Live your authentic life
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” ~E.E. Cummings
I have a really clear memory of standing at the pedestrian traffic lights with my dad when I was about 15 and he asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. Tossing around a few notions like prima ballerina and TV week cover girl, I but settled on something a little less ambitious and far more within my reach; I said I wanted to be me. As it turns out, being comfortable with who we are is perhaps one of the most hopeful things we can aim for. There’s a glow that comes from authenticity and a peace within yourself when you accept who you are.
We kick around the phrase authenticity as a hip new age term, sometimes overlooking the influence that being authentic can have. Our personalities, our reactions, our opinions all have the potential to bounce off people the wrong way, yet somehow seem to work when they come from a place of authenticity. It is when we are ambiguous that we give off a subtle air of confusion and others automatically respond with the same confusion and ambiguity.
Through all the unravelling and rebuilding, at the heart of being authentic is simply being ok with yourself. As we change, our acceptance of ourselves also needs to change. The conflict comes when we are moving in a new direction, but still hanging on to the beliefs we grew up with, or confine ourselves by a certain mind frame. If we let go of the judgments and uncertainty, chances are others will too.
Finding that inner acceptance can be confronting. You’ll come up against yourself, questioning the mindsets that have ushered you to this point. Being authentic is about standing wholeheartedly in the present and not being afraid to define yourself at that moment. Capture the moment as if it were a bubble around you, an entirely safe place full of all the things that you believe, feel, desire and love; that’s the truth of who you are. When we find the courage to take these simple steps, living authentically happens naturally.
Speak your truth
Even if it’s to yourself, in the safety of your own space, say it. Clarity in our thoughts, actions and words automatically creates a pathway for things to happen. If we are muddled, it’s no surprise when our life is too. Being honest is one of the most uplifting and energising ways to simplify our lives.
If you’re going to be frank enough to speak your truth, a big part of that is being honest enough to admit your mistakes, own up to your shortcomings and forgive yourself anyway. This sounds wishy-washy but it’s a pretty confronting thing to do. Look yourself in the mirror, acknowledge your imperfections and allow yourself the generosity to admit that you did the best with what you had. Oprah say’s “when you know better you do better.” It’s all a part of the learning.
Do what you love
Authenticity is about being who you really are, all of the time. Not just in the safe moments yet wearing a mask in all the others. So to truly be yourself you have to fill your time with work, people and hobbies that resonate with your soul. You have to do what you love. That doesn’t mean finding excuses to enjoy what it is you think you have to do but to be bold enough to follow your path of inspiration. Whatever sets your soul on fire, do more of that!
Judging ourselves and others is the quickest way to build barriers. Our world today is no less full of judgements, despite social media’s mind wash to have us all behave a certain way. We can only control kindness in our little corner of the world, but that’s a good place to start. When we give out goodness we get goodness back, but more than that, being kind creates a smoother circle of happenings around us and that means less complication, less justifying, less mess.
It’s almost impossible to find the real you without doing a little work along the way. The practice of mindfulness gives us power in the moment by simply focussing on where we are in the present. It helps us shed our past regrets or future concerns by enabling us to fully absorb and accept how we feel in this very moment.
Stop people pleasing
Coming from one of the world’s greatest people pleasers, it’s really challenging to actually put yourself first. I take this to mean that we give ourselves permission to disagree, to say no. We find it easier to demonstrate “nice” behaviour, so we often hide how we really feel. It is actually ok to feel anger, to be upset, to tell someone else that you feel angry with them. We don’t have to take on their reaction, we just need to give ourselves permission to be authentic about how we feel. Stop saying sorry. Stop pleasing everyone. Just stop.
“Living authentically is not stagnant: it is constantly shifting and taking on new forms. If we truly believe in living an authentic life, then we must continually be learning about ourselves, challenging old beliefs, sorting through our baggage. It is about learning to face fears and doubts, to be able to reach deeply within ourselves to find out what makes our heart sing, our spirit soar. It is finding where our authentic self feels the most alive, free and unburdened — and then having the courage to live from this place.” Psych Central