Is authenticity better than kindness?


Authenticity is to honestly reflect your own emotions and your own feelings. And I personally believe there is no right or wrong way to relate to your emotions, as long as you actually do accept and relate to them. What I find, however, is that many of us struggle with understanding and relating to our emotions. We have so many ideas about the right and wrong way to feel and express emotions. We think there are good and bad emotions. And we fault ourselves for having bad emotions, for feeling worried, angry, sad, or hurt. Well, it happens to everyone, don’t fret about it.

Are authentic people less kind?

Something that I notice is that in some of the spiritual communities, people have begun to speak a lot about empaths. And for some reason, people have begun to argue that there is some kind of conflict between being empathic and compassionate, and being authentic and honest. This is far from the truth.

I have grown up in a time where people celebrate the idea of being compassionate, but attack the idea of being honest. People praise selflessness and understanding of others, but they feel wary of extending that trust towards themselves. People love others, but struggle to love themselves. I’ve heard many friends say that they dislike accepting others’ kindness. People praise helping others, but feel bad for accepting others’ help. And people say that it is more important to be kind than to be honest. This is because people spread an impossible ideal – “The Empath Ideal” – teaching people that love and kindness should be selfless and without boundaries. I want to write about the consequences of this in a followup article.

The myths about inauthenticity, dishonesty, selfishness, and unkindness often stem from stereotypes of these concepts. If we look at Shalom S.H Schwartz Ten Universal Values, we find that people who value honesty and authenticity also tend to value kindness and benevolence very highly. Honest people tend to be loyal, humble, forgiving, responsible, friendly, peaceful, justice-oriented, wise, and harmonious. Dishonest people are less kind, less forgiving, more quick to violence, more likely to cheat, and more willing to cause disharmony and conflict. How people are somehow painting it out to be a conflict between the two, I don’t know.

True wisdom doesn’t hurt

There is an idea that truth and honesty is often hurtful. People who are more honest disregard the feelings of others, saying hurtful things to them, because “it’s important to be honest”. And others hold back the truth because they don’t want to hurt others’ feelings. But what I have learnt over the years is that truth is kind. Truth guides us, and helps us, and gives us a power that we wouldn’t have, if we didn’t know.

It is true that truth can hurt – but wisdom heals. As difficult as honesty can be to handle, honesty and truth has to be integrated into your own perspective. You have to take truth, and you have to find out what truth means to you. When you have full understanding of another person, it can be hard to be angry at them. Truth – full truth – makes it easier to forgive others, and also, easier to forgive yourself.

While truth can seem scary at first, full, true awareness is a process of healing and learning to love. And truth as wisdom makes you more kind – to yourself – and to others. We often get caught up in the door to truth, we get offended by the doormat, we feel hurt by the doorknob, but we rarely enter into the room, and we rarely make the room our own. People often linger on half-truths, but they rarely seek understanding. Understanding, wisdom, is truth, combined with love. But I can see that some people start in truth, and then seek kindness, where other people may start with kindness, and then seek truth. But they are usually bridges to each other.

Does this make one type more authentic, and one more kind?

Nothing in the personality type descriptions directly correlates to being inauthentic, unkind, or unfriendly, all of it is just different. Authenticity is something you can develop. Empathy can be taught. It comes from a long practice of relating to and understanding your emotions, and relating to and understanding others. Authenticity seems to require a mix between honesty and love. People who have one, but not the other, seem to struggle more with authenticity. They use truth more as a weapon to hurt themselves or others than as a way to heal.

The more experiences you have, and the more you love (both yourself and others), and the more honest you are, the more kind you will find yourself being. People who love others, but not themselves, have something they need to process. Perhaps they are caught in being the muse or empath for another person? And a person who loves themselves, but doesn’t care for anyone else, well, that’s a narcissist for you. The goal is to love and understand yourself, and to love and understand others. To be honest and kind to yourself, and to be honest and kind to others. And that is an important journey for all of us.

The more you get caught up in lies and deceit, the less likely you will be to want to help or support others. There is generally nothing friendly or kind in lies. There is no authenticity in helping someone that you systematically deceive or manipulate. Honesty feeds kindness, and kindness feeds honesty. Yes, perhaps there are half-kind & half-honest types, and contrastingly, half-honest, and half-kind types, but truly kind people are also truly honest.

I actually don’t know where I was going with this article, but I wanted to start a discussion. Hope you found it interesting.

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About Erik Thor

I am an INFJ and I want to combat the stereotypes and help promote personality psychology that doesn't limit or mistype you.