discover your authentic selfWhile on our recent getaway to the great state of Michigan (that’s hard to say as an Ohio State fan), we visited the small town of Saugatuck. It’s a pretty cool little place which has a certain stepping-back-in-time feel to it.

After a day of hiking some dunes and hanging out on the beach along Lake Michigan, we popped into the main part of town for some drinks and dinner.

We explored the town for a bit on foot and decided to stop for some drinks at an outdoor bar that was part of a marina. There was a band and lots of people who appeared to be having a pretty good time. It was just the kind of place we were looking for.

After grabbing some beers and finding a spot to stand in the bar area, we started observe some of the people that were hanging out there. We like to people watch when we’re out at new places and this was certainly no exception.

Our past experience with the boating community is that they love to party, and this group certainly didn’t change our perceptions. The only difference from our previous experiences was that this group appeared to be somewhat older. After looking at the massive yachts in the marina, I made the assumption that many of these people must be wealthy midlife crises-aged lawyers, doctors, business people and other professionals. They were people who have succeeded in life and have enough money to live the cruising lifestyle.

Upon further observation it also appeared that there were more Botox injected eyes, plastic boobs and members of the Hair Club for Men then we have ever seen assembled in one place. Now, there is nothing wrong with trying to look and feel younger, but this group had a different look about them that is hard to describe. They almost looked desperate. It kind of felt like a drunken, middle-aged, wife-swapping orgy was about to break out at any minute.

So what does all this have to do with anything? Well, it got me thinking that – and I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb here – that virtually all of these people were nothing but fake and totally unauthentic.

That led me to further ponder the fact that when in relationships and certainly when having an affair, we often aren’t being our true, authentic selves.

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What does it mean for someone to be truly authentic?

Merriam-Webster defines authentic as a quality of being genuine and worthy of belief.

Basically then, being authentic and living an authentic life means being true to yourself and living in harmony with your personality and your values.

Now as an ex-cheater I can tell you that I don’t think there is a whole lot of authenticity going around when having an affair. Probably close to zero. I know there wasn’t in my situation. There were little white lies told to impress the OW. There were exaggerations made about the dire state of my relationship with Linda. I was not being true to myself nor in harmony with my values. I was putting on an act so that I could feel better about myself and give my ego a big boost. I was not my true self. Not even close.

For the sake of fairness, I suppose there could be an instance when both affair partners are being their true, authentic selves, but in my opinion that would be a rare thing.

And on the other side of the coin, it is quite common for the betrayed spouse to ponder whether or not they are being their true selves while going through the recovery and healing process. I know Linda struggled mightily with wondering who she was at one point during our recovery.

Even people in relationships that have not been affected by infidelity can have difficulties being their true authentic selves.

Authenticity requires a genuine sharing of one’s inner self, irrespective of the consequences. Very often, our actions in a given moment are intended to avoid certain consequences. And so we change or tone down our communications or behavior to assure that those consequences won’t be negative or painful.

We may say to ourselves, “What’s the big deal? It’s just a little white lie,” or, “I don’t want to hurt their feelings,” or, “They won’t really care about how I feel.” It’s actually much larger than that. The greater harm done may not be to the other but to our own self.

Psychotherapist and marriage counselor Mel Schwartz, L.C.S.W., says…

When we alter our thoughts and feelings for the purpose of a safer communication, we limit our own development. It’s as if we suppress our authenticity in deference to a safe and non-challenging communication. This devolving from our more genuine self typically begins in childhood as we encounter any host of emotional challenges. If we experience abuse, disappointment, fear, or devaluation, we begin to alter our personality as we attempt to cope with these wounds. Although the coping mechanisms are adaptive at that time, over the course of a lifetime they become masks that distance us from a more actualized sense of self.

So how does one become authentic? For many of us, we may not even know what our true authentic self really is. So, we must discover this.

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The following excerpt from Live Grow Enjoy gives us some ideas on how to accomplish this:

Discovering Your Authentic Self

Getting to Know Your Authentic Self

How, then, do you get to know your authentic self? The first step is to start observing yourself in your everyday life. Explore your reactions, thoughts and emotions throughout the day. Where do they come from? Are they genuine thoughts and emotions from your authentic self, or are they remnants from your upbringing or external influences from the society that you live in? By truly and honestly experiencing your thoughts and emotions without censuring or judging them, you will begin to get to know yourself better. Eventually, you will also learn the difference between your genuine self and the part of you that is the product of external influences.

Helpful Techniques

Here are a few techniques that can help you getting to know your authentic self better:

Keep a journal

Write about situations during the day that affected you strongly, both negatively or positively. Note your thoughts, emotions and actions in these situations. Then reflect on what determines your reactions to these situations. Is it a response from your genuine self, or is it habitual patterns you have developed during the years? Here is a “Get to know yourself – journal” you can use.

Take a moment to reflect

Now and then throughout the day, take a moment to reflect on what is going on inside of you. What are you thinking and how are you feeling? Do you feel relaxed and confident, or tense and insecure? How you feel in various situations is an important clue to whether you are acting in accordance with your authentic self or are unconsciously reacting to your surroundings. Especially notice what makes you feel closed off and frustrated and what makes you feel happy and alive. This will guide you to start revealing when you are authentic and when you are not.

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Review your personal story

Spend time reviewing the story of your life and what might have affected you and brought you further from your authentic self. What was your upbringing like? What issues or pet peeves did your parents have that could have affected you? What were your school years like? Your friendships and romantic relationships? Try to view your life from an external standpoint and reflect on what affected you and how.

Get to know your strengths and weaknesses

Take inventory of yourself. What comes easy to you and what do you find difficult? When do you feel empowered and alive and what makes you uneasy and drains you of energy? What do the people in your life tell you about your talents and your short-comings? How do your family and friends view you? Personality tests can be a help to gain insight into your personal qualities and enlighten you about how you function in different situations.

Meditation and awareness exercises

Meditation is a valuable tool for exercising your ability to observe yourself and get in contact with your thoughts and emotions. The internal calm and presence you develop during meditation and mindfulness practice will help you find and keep in contact with your authentic self.

Being authentic – or as close to authentic as you can be – is important because being able to fully accept yourself and be fully present can lead to a relationship that is built in part on closeness, openness, and mutual respect.

I realize that I’ve only scratched the surface here, so if you would, please offer your comments below regarding your experiences and/or struggles with discovering your authentic self and add any other tips or advice you feel would be helpful.


    15 replies to "You’re Not Your Authentic Self When Having an Affair – Discovering Your Authentic Self"

    • Gizfield

      Yes, my husband claims his lies were just “little white lies.” No harm, no foul.

      I’m totally fascinated right now by the Forrest Hayes murder trial. This is the 51 year old Google executive who died aboard his yacht after being injected with heroin by a so
      called high dollar hooker. She watched him die, finished her wine, walked over his body a few times. That’s a nice legacy to leave your family. And a nice way to spend your last seconds… Cheaters ought to read the comments made about this man, cause they are NOT nice. And, yes he was married, with five children.

      • Doug

        Giz, I heard about that murder the other day on GMA. Sounds like a real interesting situation to say the least. I wonder if he was being his true authentic self while on his yacht with the hooker or with his wife and kids?

    • gizfield

      Doug, I would say when he was with his family. At least lets hope so. He probably always did what he should when he wa s young. He got rich, had opportunity and funds to do this crap . Thought no one would know.

      I don’t normally watch the news, but I got recruited for lunch in the breakroom and this story was on.

      I have been reading a lot iof true life adultery stories lately. What a revelation. Especially the Other Woman. There are so many similarities it is eerie.

    • gizfield

      About ten days after my husband confessed his adultery, my city Nashville, was rocked by the murder of Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair. You can bet I got a lot of milage out of this, as an example of what you expose your family to with these unstable whores. It truly is sad though because people really lose respect for you, no matter who you are.

      • Doug

        No argument from me there, Giz. I remember when McNair was killed. I always liked him as a football player but certainly lost respect for him as a person after that. I didn’t know you were from Nashville! Great city. Linda and I loved the Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar on Printer’s Alley. I think we sat and listened to music in there for about 8 hours when we visited.

    • tryinghard

      I def think that meditation is a great thing to do and THAT said, I never have time for it. Or if I do, it turns into a nap!!!

      Being authentic mystifies me. I too wonder if he was being authentic with her or me. It’s weird because at first he said he could “be himself” with her and then when we were in MC he said he lied to her and put on a big act and he felt more himself with me. I don’t know what’s true and what isn’t. I believe it’s a simple fact of putting on different faces for different situations. We all do it. You don’t act the same in church as you do and evening out with a glass of wine. You certainly act differently with your husband than your girlfriends. It’s a tricky line. One thing for sure is to keep talking, about anything and eventually the authentic self emerges and then you can decipher between the lines.

      Watch 48 hours on friday nights and you will see all kinds of scary tacky stuff going on with cheating and predatory OW/OM. It’s very scary out there. It’s enough to expose yourself to sociopaths/psychopaths by just going out in public and doing one’s daily routines, but when these cheating nit wits bring those psychopaths into their business and personal lives it exposes everyone to these nuts.

      I have worried sick that OW, given she has terminal cancer, has nothing to lose anymore. She doesn’t work, collects medicaid & social security/disability, truly believes life has screwed her over AND she owns a gun!!! If I let my imagination run away with me I could come up with all kinds of scary scenarios.

      I’m reading a really good book called The Sociopath Next Door, I think Sarah P. recommended it, very enlightening. And my therapist is convinced the OW is a sociopath so needless to say I’m glad she’s got other things on her mind and doesn’t bother us YET.

      • Strengthrequired

        Th, funny you mention that about the ow. I’ve mentioned to my h how nervous and concerned in a way about moving back home, as I am worried his ow will do something or arrange for someone to do something to me, just to get me out of the way. I feel safer where I am, she doesn’t know where the kids and I are, but she knows where we are there. My h said, no one will dare to even try do anything, and said it will be ok, you will be safe at home. I said, maybe, but doesn’t stop anyone when your out.
        A few weeks after that conversation, the conviction of a man that killed his wife came on, he killed his wife two years ago, and only now found guilty. They have spoken about letters, or journals the wife had written down for herself about her h having affairs. He was still having an affair when he killed his wife. He had been in this affair for 5 years. Now of course the ow has been interviewed by TV, and asked does she believe he killed his wife because of her pressuring him to leave her. Honestly what do they think she is going to say, ohhh yes, I think he did because I was always nagging him to leave his wife for me. I mean really. Her response to that question, was ohhh no, I was very patient with him. ( patient my ass). Of course she is looking bad to the public for being in a relationship with a married man for five years, and she looks even worse now that he killed his wife.
        His poor children, lost their mother, and now have to live with knowing their father killed her and has to spend the rest of his life in prison.

        So needless to say the thoughts that have been going through my mind lately.

    • gizfield

      Doug, I will have to check that out. I am a native Nashvillian, and have always lived here, except the 80s, and have always loved it. there is a lot to do, and the weather isn’t too hideous. I love historical stuff and old architecture especially and it’s very plentiful here. We take a lot of roadtrips to small towns around here too. I got really homesick when I didn’t live here for ten years.

    • Tryinghard


      Yes you should be worried. People everyday who are caught in weird tradgedgies say every day “gosh I always see this on TV but didn’t think this would ever happen to me”. Well it CAN and does happen to “you”.

      I do believe the OW is a sociopath and it’s been confirmed by those who worked with her and know her. She’s crazy. But guess what anyone can go crazy even you and me. Desperate people do desperate things. This OW in my life has nothing to lose. Chemo affects the mind and she’s been on plenty of it. Read the book I mentioned and trust me you won’t even look at your own relatives the same way.

      And that Google executive! WTF was HE thinking. High priced call girl?? There is no such beast. He played with fire and paid the ultimate price with his life and now his poor family is left to pick up the pieces. And one would think people would consider his tradgedgies as a lesson but I’d bet the farm that the “high class” call girl industry isn’t affected one little bit by it. So you know what, you get what you ask for and his family is the collateral damage for his stupidity. Nice legacy dumbass, dead dumbass that is!

      No thanks. I’m not that desperate to have my ego stroked or any other body part for that matter than to let a psychopath/sociopath in my life. But thanks to my husband, it may already be too late.

      • Strengthrequired

        Th, it’s true you never expect it to happen to you, but it can. I am sure none of us expected to be here, but we are. We never expected our h/w would cheat on us, but they did, and wh knows what the mind of the person they cheated with is really like. A person just has to snap, and that’s it. Watch out if you are in the line of fire, when that happens.
        I am worried th, for goodness sake she is using our surname….. She wanted my life, my h and family. Yet only my children, to keep him. For goodness sake they were trying to find us, and came close after we moved, but no one would confirm for them, that we lived there.
        I know she will find out soon after I move back, and yes it’s not a great feeling knowing someone out there wants my life, and would most likely do anything to get it, after all, she had done plenty already and it didn’t work. I guess we are all pretty much in a position now, that our cs placed us in this situation, to be weary of who is around us, because we just don’t know the true mind of the op or even our spouses for that matter.
        Our cs may have made a dreadful decision engaging in an affair, and believing they have found their true love, but in reality they have no idea what they could be bringing into their life need alone us their w/h and children. Anyone of us could be staring a fatal attraction in the face.

    • Tryinghard


      Some may think we are being paranoid. But in some cases paranoia is just good thinking. I never leave my doors open or unlocked. I left my garage door open last week and I freaked out whe I came home to find it open! I look all around the parking lots when I go to the store. At work I park by the building by a window. I don’t own a gun or rifle or shotgun and I don’t want one, never have. But I have a nice baseball bat in my closet!

      I’d say cousin it is a sociopath too. Seriously I know of no culture that accepts this kind of inter family relationship. I doubt the jungle tribes of the amazon accept them. What on earth is that family thinking encouraging that kind incestual relationship? They are either sociopaths or demented people or both. I’d keep them as far away as possible. They are sick, sick people.

      You are such a sweet kind trusting person. You of all people don’t deserve any of this kind of fear. I wish your husband would scare those assholes not to try anything and stay away from you and your precious children. Hugs to you SR.

    • Strengthrequired

      Th, Thankyou, you are too. Yet I’m not so trusting anymore. Lol. I too always lock up, the windows, the front front and back doors, my car doors as soon as we are in the car. Everything is locked. I do believe it is someone to be careful of, she may do something, but she would be more likely have someone else do her dirty work. I have no trust in me when it comes to her, or her family. My h may think I am worrying about nothing, he may believe he “knows” her, I call bull. He doesn’t know her, he may have grown up with her until he was 15/16, but she was not in his life for way more than that. He may have believe she was a good person, but there is no fooling me, I have stood back and watched her, as well have been the recipient of her crap. I am not blinded by her true self.
      You too need to watch yourself th, your ow may be sick, but as you said, she has nothing to lose.
      I have always told my h that, “she has nothing to lose and everything to gain”

      Hugs to you th, I guess we seem to notice a lot more now that we have been in this situation, all the stories that come up about the fatalities that come out of a affair, it appears as though it’s the wife that turns out to be the fatality more so than the ow, om or cs.

    • gizfield

      I found an email between my h and his gf saying “what was that word we were trying to think of last night? Sociopath?” Lol, well this bitch oughta know. He acted like she was Mother Teresa, then changed his description to “pill head, alcoholic, demon possessed ex prostitute”. Will the real road whore please stand up?? What I do know, for a fact, that this slag took her young (not sure how old she was, you’d think as “jealous” and “obsessed”as I was I’d remember more about this chick, but I dont) from Tennessee to California so she could shack out with a pilot. I knew it and he knew it too, because we were at the home of mutual “friends” the night before she left. THAT is what he was planning to subject my five year old daughter to. And I’m the crazy one ???

    • gizfield

      Also, one thing I found really weird. When I confronted this skank, she was much more hostile to me than I was to her. Wtf? I never did anything to her. Calling me names and making threats against me. All in the name of protecting her illicit “friendship” with my husband. I hold him equally responsible, but this broad is delusional. It really is true. “Marry up, screw down .” He has admitted no one likes her. I can certainly see why.

    • Strengthrequired

      Giz, it’s funny because I was the crazy one too lol. She even had the family believe I was the crazy one. She had them think I was going to put my h in jail, lol, as she said to them, people in my situation can go crazy. Lol. Weirdo. Anyhow she may have liked calling the cops on her h, that certainly wasn’t me.
      I would have been happy to just walk away from the whole madness, and would have if my h didn’t keep stopping me, all he had to do was make a decision and stick to it, and if he truly wanted her, I would have been gone, he just had to prove it.
      How many times I was called crazy. If my h thought I was crazy, wonder what he thinks of her
      My h throughout his affair, would first say how good she was, then every now and then he would say, how she had two heads, and also at times would tell me how she was not very smart. Interesting…..
      Well what I see, is she may not be very smart, but she certainly knew what she was doing and how to manipulate him.

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