A Happiness Journey

Being authentically you

“Until you make peace with who you are, you will never be content with what you have.” ~Doris Mortman

 

It has been widely documented that the most common regret expressed upon the deathbed is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”.

 

Many of us go through our lives following the norm, doing what’s expected, never really questioning our path until the discontent slowly creeps in and we wonder why we don’t quite feel comfortable in our own skin anymore.

 

When we are born we are our beautiful, whole, true, authentic selves. We are the clean canvass before the world has made its mark on us. As we grow, like sponges, we absorb the thoughts, beliefs and behaviours of our family, peers and society. We are taking in external stimuli the entire time, both directly, with our parents and teachers telling us how they think we should act and what we should do with our lives, and indirectly, the passive information we take in from our environment that implies how we should behave to be socially acceptable. But the truth is, whilst we may belong to a collective consciousness, and we may be encouraged to go along with the herd, we are all beautifully unique. No two human beings are exactly the same. Even those who share identical DNA have very different personalities and desires.

 

For survival, our brains are wired to want to fit into the tribe; rejection means  no shelter, no food and no mate, literally being left out in the cold. As young people we are not taught to connect with the deepest and truest parts of ourselves, so it is all too easy to just follow societal norms and values. In doing this we develop beliefs, thoughts and behaviours that keep us following the patterns of how we’ve been taught to act. We don’t even realise that these beliefs, thoughts and behaviours are not our own.

 

In recent years we’ve started to hear the phrase “just be yourself”, but in reality that’s much harder than it sounds. Who are we really? What does being yourself really mean? Self-inquiry is not taught to us at school and it’s hard when you don’t know how. Couple that with our need to be loved and accepted, the paradox is, rather than searching within, people are trying to match what ‘authentic’ means to others.

 

We have grown accustomed to living within our roles, and how those roles worked within our family units and our school life. In the process, we may have sacrificed a degree of freedom; potentially quashing parts of ourselves that may have led us to be spontaneous or vulnerable. When we get married and start a family, for many of us our personality contracts even further into the role of husband or wife, father or mother. We learn what is acceptable to maintain the marriage and how to compromise to make all the pieces fit.

 

“Authenticity,” as defined by psychologists Brian Goldman and Michael Kernis, is “the unimpeded operation of one’s true or core self in one’s daily enterprise.”

 

We are all guilty of wearing many masks day to day, in all the roles we occupy, whilst we work hard to keep up appearances. This may describe our work persona or who we are in a relationship. That being said, we all recognise the feeling of inauthenticity. We know that ‘off’ feeling we get when we’re in the presence of someone being inauthentic. We associate inauthenticity with such words as fraudulent and deceptive.

 

We recognise authenticity because we are primed to respond to it authentically. We know it when we see it and it feels good to our nervous system. It feels true to our bodies and it creates resonance.

 

Benefits of living Authentically

Research shows that not only do authentic people feel better, they are more resilient, more purposeful in their choices, more likely to achieve their goals and less likely to turn to self-destructive habits. Authentic people create their own rules based on the standards that resonate with them. They have the courage to live their lives based on what they believe is right. This type of empowerment gives them the inner strength to withstand temptation and build self-confidence. When you have the courage to share your shame and guilt, they no longer have power over you.

 

Authenticity requires Courage

It requires courage because it requires us to be vulnerable in front of others. When we step out of the crowd we risk receiving special focus and that means that we need to be prepared to act and make mistakes in the presence of others. It may require us to make unpopular decisions and speak out of turn. We’re forced to acknowledge aspects of ourselves we’d rather hide away. Authenticity allows us to live openly and honestly, connecting to our values and desires that cause us to act deliberately in ways that are consistent with these qualities. Authentic people hold themselves accountable, accepting their strengths and weaknesses.

 

Authenticity requires Clarity

It requires clarity because it demands self-knowledge and self-awareness. In order to create your own rules for your own life you need to look deep within, past all the beliefs that have been installed in you over the years from others, and really get in touch with what you believe, what your thoughts are on a subject, and how you feel about the world around you. When we are so conditioned to think, feel and act in a certain way dictated by those around us, really separating ourselves from that, to discover our true selves within, is both daunting and challenging. I would also add that it’s incredibly rewarding and enlightening.

 

Ways to create Authenticity

  • Honour and love yourself
    • Forgive yourself for past mistakes you made. Don’t punish yourself for the choices you made when you were operating from a different program.
  • Hold yourself accountable
    • Be willing to make changes and own your mistakes
  • Define your values
    • Its hard to behave authentically if we don’t know what we value and desire. What aligns with you right now?
  • Adopt an open mind
    • When operating from the old program you would have seen the world a certain way. When you open your mind you allow yourself to see things from a different perspective. Not only will you see familiar things a different way but you’ll see things you’ve never noticed before.
  • Go within
    • Becoming introspective reveals essential aspects of yourself. You can get to know who you are and how you want the world to see you.
  • Be vulnerable
    • When you reveal those aspects of yourself to another it builds trust and intimacy. Whilst it may feel scary at first it will build your confidence and credibility over time.
  • Notice when you’re being inauthentic
    • We know when we’re acting in ways that aren’t congruent with our values or when we catch ourselves making a remark that we’ve picked up from someone else. We feel out of sync. Try to become aware of discrepancies between your actions and your beliefs.
  • Trust your intuition
    • Pay attention to hunches and the physical sensations you feel in your body. Your instincts will tell you when you’re on track or you’re not being genuine.
  • Be bold
    • Don’t let your fear prevent you from being who you are. Focus on being true to yourself in every moment.
  • Don’t concern yourself with what other people think of you
    • When you’re being true to yourself you will be less concerned by others opinions and potential rejection. Besides, it’s always good to sort out who are ‘your people’ and who aren’t. Remember, what others think of you is none of your business.
  • Nurture yourself
    • Being able to nurture yourself will strengthen your ability to maintain autonomy. When you’re not being constantly fed by the approval of others you need to be able to provide yourself with the nourishment you need.
  • Recognise the masks you wear
    • Be mindful of those situations where you put your masks on, and how you use those to hide and manipulate. How do you show up on social media? How do you respond in different situations? Are you being genuine?
  • Be adaptable to change
    • One of the wonderful things about being authentic is that it’s not rigid. They’re your beliefs, you can change them. You have the right to change your mind. Your life is a prototype, feel free to adjust and make changes. Embrace the flexibility of life you now have.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously
    • When you can laugh at yourself and your flaws it doesn’t sting so much when others make fun of you.
  • Examine family belief systems
    • By examining where our behaviours come from we can learn a lot about our authentic selves.
  • Observe yourself Objectively
    • When you can learn to stand outside yourself and observe yourself objectively, you can see where you’re falseness comes out in different situations. Be the fly on the wall of your own life.
  • Release beliefs and patterns that no longer serve you
    • When something comes up that no longer resonates, challenge it. Is this belief yours on one you’ve inherited? Does it hold water for you now?
  • Release people and relationships that no longer serve you
    • As we step into our authenticity we may notice that certain people in our lives want to pull us back to their way of thinking. Your change makes them feel uncomfortable. It’s ok to make new friends who align with who you really are. It’s ok to distance yourself from people who want to pull you away from your authenticity.
  • Make telling the truth a habit
    • How many little white lies do you tell to save face? To cover embarrassment? We think they don’t hurt anyone but every lie we tell takes us further away from our authenticity. By being honest, we tell our subconscious that our imperfections are acceptable. When you speak your truth, authentically, you show others that you are responsible, that you can be trusted, and that you trust others enough to show you genuine, vulnerable self.
  • Embrace feedback
    • When you are genuine, you encourage others to be so too.
  • Stop people pleasing
    • Trying to continually please others forces us to abandon ourselves and that is anything but genuine.
  • Create and maintain your boundaries.
    • Once you’ve worked out who you are and what you stand for, drawn a circle around that, and don’t compromise yourself.

Authenticity takes time

Rome wasn’t built in a day as they say. Authenticity is a goal, it’s something you pursue. Remember that, whilst we are born whole and complete, deserving and worthy, decades of conditioning have shaped who we are today. Authenticity is your ability to finally show up as your true authentic self, stripping back the layers that have built up and changed us over the years. That takes time. Being authentic is a daily practice. It’s a moment by moment choice of embracing your truth and being fearless enough to share it with the world. Stepping out of the shell of who you’re expected to be and being free to be yourself with everyone, brings a profound sense of peace and confidence. Show the world you have nothing to hide.

 

I honestly believe that when we are living in alignment with our authentic selves, we create such immense magnetism. By not abandoning ourselves we are setting a new bar for the vibration we put out into the world.

“Be yourselfnot your idea of what you think somebody elses idea of yourself should be.Henry David Thoreau

 

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