Episode recap: Authenticity with Mel Schwartz

In the fourth episode of the Joy Superpowers series, we discussed the superpower of authenticity with Mel Schwartz – a psychotherapist, marriage counsellor, author, TEDx speaker, podcaster and leadership consultant. Here are some key insights from the episode!

Be true to yourself

In everyday life we are often pushed towards conformity and the expectations of other people. This is evident in mundane interactions, such as a friend asking you how you’re doing, and you always answering “great”, even if that isn’t how you are really doing. People are raised to not complain about things, but that shouldn’t be the case. Mel explains that people should not pass each other by as strangers that are operating from a script like robots, because that means we’re betraying our own authenticity, and that greatly impacts our ability to be joyful.

In his work in the psychotherapy field, Mel uses the term authentic self-esteem, which for him, correlates to joyful living. Authentic self-esteem means being true to yourself while maybe hoping that other people will like you, but not betraying your true self in order to get people to think well of you. The flip-side of the coin is other esteem, which means appearing or acting a certain way in order to get other people’s approval. To Mel, this kind of betrayal of self is the opposite of joyfulness and authenticity. “If I’m more concerned about what I think someone else thinks of me, than being true to myself, then I’m not on my path to joyfulness.”

Be self-aware

If you find yourself acting inauthentically, whether it stems from the way you were raised or the social groups you belong to, it’s crucial to become aware of the problem. You have the power to choose if you follow the road that has been paved for you, or if you learn who you really are and become comfortable with that. “It’s about learning to not make excuses or justifications for not allowing yourself to be genuine”, Mel says. According to Mel, following the same “doctrine” as your group creates a blow to authentic self-esteem, and can induce insecurity and self-doubt, since you’re more invested in what other people think than invested in yourself. Mel poses an important question – why do we project the authority of judgment onto other people? They are not the ones with the power to judge you for your opinions or beliefs.

Be curious

With the ever-transforming world, it’s essential to develop an ability to understand yourself and where you stand, in order to make the right choices moving forward – so take the time to understand yourself and others around you. Mel highlights that you should embrace uncertainty, and not be afraid of saying “I don’t know”. “Embracing not knowing is an important piece of authenticity”, Mel states. He also explains that in order to find joyfulness in relationships, it’s required to have a deep knowledge of others, instead of operating on a surface level. It’s about being curious about how people came to their beliefs and opinions, and really getting to know them on a deeper level. “To truly know each other, we need to ask deeper questions.” Focusing on authenticity naturally leads you to be more curious about yourself and others as well.

How authentic are you?

Do you hold back on your opinions in fear of what other people might say? Does your personality change in different social situations? What does authenticity mean to you? Let us know! You can start a discussion down below, or on social media using the hashtag #joysuperpowers. We’d love to hear your thoughts – and we’re ready to discuss! In case you missed the episode with Mel, you can listen to it here, or on your preferred podcast platform.

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Further reading