Being “authentic” or “true to yourself” is Your (capital Y) goal… whether you (lower case y) recognize it yet or not. 🙂
Authenticity is the state of a pure little child (usually around 3–4) who has not yet adopted Inauthenticity. Being True to one’s Self (“True Self”) is the actual state of being that Abraham Maslow was attempting to explore and document called “Self Actualization,” although I prefer the term “Self Real-I-zation.” Authenticity was personified (though hidden and twisted) within the story of the one known as “Jesus” as the state he reached after having ascended to the top of the mountain (being “translated”) in order to deliver his “Sermon on the Mount:” https://www.quora.com/profile/Kimberly-Davis-Wallis/Posts/Matthew-5–7-Correctly-Translated-Version-*The-STAIRWAY-to-HEAVEN*
Authenticity was why “Jesus” was able to say, “You’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father” and “the Father and I are one.” This is the place of single-mindedness where there is only silence within and one is of a “sound mind” with no confusion or cognitive dissonance. This level of awareness and execution of life has been called “gnosis” or KNOWing, and is in direct contrast to being filled with knowledge or worldly wisdom. Indeed, Authenticity brings Intelligence and the ability to tap into Universal Wisdom. This is the goal for individuals within mortality, yet the place so few thus far have achieved.
Authenticity is the state of Being at which the LDS Endowment (and their Book of Mormon as well) hints continually. Indeed, unknowingly to most, Authenticity is behind every “mystery school” and all “Masters” of Life. Although most TRUE “Saints” and revered humans through time have achieved or come close to achieving this state, they have usually been condemned and hated by the masses during the pursuit.
There are tremendous impediments to completing one’s journey back home to Authenticity and yet everything is at stake to one’s successful completion. Nearly each and every other individual in existence is allegorically a “dragon” lying in wait upon one’s path, usually unknowingly intent on distracting or preventing victory. This is only because They have become inauthentic and, thus, are serving their egoic self to some degree or another.
I, myself, became Inauthentic at three years old. I have memory of my choice and what led up to it and have written about my experience here: https://www.quora.com/When-did-you-stop-being-yourself/answer/Kimberly-Davis-Wallis
I “split” at that time. Just as every other individual at some point does. I became, in my toddler attempt to survive, Inauthentic. I became “passive aggressive.” I did not want to “rock anyone else’s boat,” so I chose to do whatever I could to avoid direct confrontation. In my own way, I took a detour from my original intention and began living the best I could in ways to “make people happy and bring joy to them.” Before you judge me “schizophrenic” I will point out… You did that too! 🙂 Although some become angry and rebellious, closing down their hearts far more than I ever did, each one of us become counterfeit from our original purity to some extent. We HAD to. It was our path to survival in this world.
However, we each, also, eventually, come to the point where we decide: “Enough is Enough! I want to find Truth, Real Truth!” When we start opening our minds and examining our hearts with honesty, we realize that “not everything is adding up! Let’s get to the bottom of this business of life.” THEN, we are in for the biggest roller coaster ride in existence, along the path towards Self-Realization and Authenticity.
In simplicity, Rod Vessels answered this question well and succinctly. In case you missed it, his answer can be accessed here: https://www.quora.com/How-do-you-distinguish-between-being-authentic-or-true-to-yourself-and-being-selfish/answer/Rod-Vessels?share=431b0f69
I offer a deeper view for those who dare. 🙂
Although each of us, and every one and every thing in existence, are “selfish,” there are levels to our selfishness. At the one end of the continuum is the individual who has no regard for anyone else’s needs but exists with the central theme of “What do *I* exclusively want? What benefits ME?!” At the other end of the spectrum is the “Master” or the one who has reached Self-Realization. With this frame of mind, the individual realizes that in the long run, or with eternal perspective, that which I do benefits all of us, me included. Paramount within our mind is the question: “What is the most correct action each moment that contributes to the well-being of Each of Us collectively?” I call this the “Good for All” mentality, or having “the Mark of the Father in one’s forehead.”
Living with one’s individual self as the mark of the target is scripturally entitled the “devil,” “the arm of flesh,” or “natural man.” It is said that “the natural man is an enemy to god,” and that one should not trust in the arm of flesh. I have called it the “my will” versus “Thy Will” syndrome. Living for one’s own will brings apparently temporary benefit but with greater impairment.
In this way, and in answer to your question, “being selfish” is acting without long-term perspective of the good of everyone equally, while “being Authentic” is being True to One’s Original Self WHO IS CREATED TO BE A SOCIALLY BENEFICIAL BEING!
If one conducts every choice in life by first reflecting upon “How can I best serve the good of all for the long run?” they will become more and more congruent (because one’s self is a part of the “all”) and they will benefit the planet and every other “one” upon it. This is the highest translation of the “Golden Rule.”
Beginning from the lowest rung of awareness upon the trek up the mountain to Self-Realization and Authenticity, these rungs or stair-steps include:
1) “What’s in it for me? What do *I* individually want?” When there are individuals living from this level, social harmony is impossible and chaos reigns with these “free radicals” executing their own self-centered will.
2) “How can I treat another as I would want to be treated?” (This is the frame of reference of “justice” and “equality” and can be termed as living “the Mosaic Law.” This is the level that many who believe they are “good” people currently operate from.)
3) “How can I treat another as they would want to be treated?” (This is a place of compassion and kindness, or the level of “Christianity.” Living at this level, one “turns the other cheek” and “goes the second mile,” yet without true understanding (wisdom or charity), this is a place of “passive aggressive” application of action without sincerity of heart.)
4) “How can I treat another as THEIR AUTHENTIC SELF would have me treat their Inauthentic self in ways that will assist them to become more and more congruent while likewise blessing each and everyone of us (including MY self) as well?” This is the level of wisdom/ Sophia and is the level of a “Christ” or “Master.” This is the state of Being entitled True Self-Realization or Authenticity.
When one lives Authentically, they experience deep and lasting peace, contentment, clarity of direction and awareness. Understanding them self, they also understand others. This is true empathy. Unless and until one achieves this level Authenticity or “Self Real-I-zation” might sound as a vague or theoretical illusion or an unreachable “impossible dream.”
Those who live Authentically seek for the integrous re-connection of each and every one of us where we truly live “with one mind and one heart and where there is no poor among us.” Because of the level of JOY and peace which they feel, integrous people give their individual desires up in order to be of service to the greater good. This is an experience that no one can possible imagine until they draw near to this “top of the mountain” state of Being them self.
It is my hope that we each and all arrive here sooner rather than later, reveling in the precious camaraderie and good-will available only within a shared sociality of exalted Beings.
Here is one of my many answers written in attempts to assist YOU to gain Authenticity. https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-best-strategy-for-boosting-self-confidence/answer/Kimberly-Davis-Wallis
In my pursuit of Real Truth, I have given up everything. Crawling through the “eye of the needle,” I have learned the *mysteries* and am now giving my life to assist YOU to dis-cover Who *YOU* really are, along with your unique gift to offer humanity. As you learn to seek (in the right place and with purified intent), you WILL find treasures of lasting value, along with every promised reward. Together, we will establish a society of humane beings and live life ALIVE, on PURPOSE, and with a sociality unequaled… because we will each BE and view each other as equally and profoundly DIVINE! Please… catch this Hope and Vision and join with me.