We all have moments in our lives where we were not true to ourselves – when we aren’t living authentically. Times like when we agreed to helping someone out when we would rather stay at home reading a book on our day off, or took a job that felt really uncomfortable but needed the money. Being inauthentic, means acting in ways that aren’t congruent with our values, preferences, and abilities, and it leaves us feeling empty, confused, exhausted, and adrift.
The concept of being authentic is simple – it means being true to yourself. Authenticity is the ability to acknowledge our own values and then base our decisions on those values. Mike Robbins, a corporate trainer and the author of Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Already Taken, says on authenticity in an article with Gaiam, “It is important because it liberates us from the pressures of always trying to be something else, always trying to be perfect.”
People who are living an authentic life aren’t afraid to show their colors or speak truth. Embracing authenticity in our lives is acknowledging that we have the right to boundaries and we don’t give anyone permission to belittle us or disrespect us. We have the ability to speak up and share how we feel when the lines are being crossed. It also frees us from the boundaries and limiting beliefs we set internally for ourselves.
It starts with an intention to be genuine, which will lead you down an incredible path of understanding the importance of self-awareness. Developing self-awareness can be a long process, so give it time. It requires getting to know ourselves on a deep level and listening to our purest desires – without judgement. When you let self-awareness guide your decisions, life becomes less complicated because every step you’re taking moves you closer to your earnest values. Ultimately, authenticity is about standing in your own power and being able to know your truth with unwavering faith.
To living an authentic life, we have to establish a willingness to become uncomfortable with ourselves internally, recognizing where we would like to improve and then taking actions towards the changes we want to create in our own lives.
Being authentic doesn’t necessarily mean always doing the “right” thing in the eye’s of the world, and you may, in fact, have to make numerous, unpopular decisions.
It’s important to remember this isn’t about cutting people out of your live, though I recommended it if they are dragging you down, but rather about acknowledging that some characteristics and values in others are not aligned with who you are. As we grow and become in tune with our authentic self, we may feel like we are leaving friends and family behind, which is challenging. I like to think of it as role modeling as to what could be possible for them as well.
When we start to embrace our truth, there are times internal conflicts will arise also because we feel we ‘should’ be doing something for someone that doesn’t necessary fit right with the authenticity we’re trying to honor. However, when we are willing to be uncomfortable and allow ourselves to challenge this notion of “should,” we can recognize when we are doing something we feel we have to. We generate awareness for when we are no longer aligned with our truth. Authenticity involves knowing that that we can disagree with someone, but we don’t have to condemn them, nor do we feel like we are being ridiculed in the process.
Most of all, authentic living doesn’t require us to seek validation elsewhere because we are confident in who we are, knowing the work we have chosen for us feels good, and we don’t have the dreaded fear of the Mondays. This alignment is powerful and gives us the ability to “unleash greater possibilities, creativity, and power than we ever thought imaginable”, Panache Desai, author of Discovering Your Soul Signature: A 33-Day Path to Purpose, Passion & Joy, writes on The Huffington Post, “Acceptance of all the various aspects of who we are enables us to embrace fully the true magnificence life has in store and share our soul signature with the world.”
Desai also notes, “There is no escape from the hardships of life — catastrophes, trauma, heartbreak, or grief. And while they can cause great upheaval, they are also invaluable energetic wake-up calls. Challenges are opportunities to come back to our authentic selves — the self who is always mighty, compassionate, dedicated, and brilliant. They bring us home to our true soul signature.”
Defining what all this may mean for you is to look at your own values and the vision you hold for your life. In what areas have you given power away just playing nice because you felt obligated? And lastly, living authentically means that you are making a choice to not only speak your truth, but live it.
So how do you start living authentically?
- Shift the way you set goals to put some soul into them
- Start to narrow the gap between what you want and how you feel
- Find confidence, even in your worst moments
- Explore what your purpose is
- Make demolishing your comfort zone a priority
- Find a career out of passion – there are always ways to make it work!