Living authentically has been one of the greatest challenges in my life. I’ve measured my success through the eyes and opinions of others from a young age. It’s tough to let that go. It is a PROCESS. (And at times, not a very fun one.) I’ve been inspired by Brene Brown’s work, my education/career in mental health, and my own therapeutic process to try and embrace authenticity every single day.
Living authentically is sort of a catch-22. ALL humans, at some point, have felt that they need to act a certain way in order to be accepted in a group. We tend to shape-shift according to our perceived “role” in a group, or how we THINK other people want us to behave.
But, the strange part is, we are most often attracted to people when they are NOT accepting the status quo; rather, when they are embracing authenticity. Think of some of the people you admire in your life, whether they are friends or acquaintances. For most, these are people who are radically and unapologetically themselves.
When you exude your true self, your confidence is palpable. It naturally gives off an energy that attracts others, and all you’re doing is being yourself!
I know, I know, it’s harder than it seems. Here are some helpful hints to help get you going:
Recognize times when you are being your true self. How can you tell?
Deepak Chopra does an amazing job of differentiating the true self from what he calls the “everyday” self.
“The true self is certain and clear about things. The everyday self gets influenced by countless outside influences, leading to confusion.
The true self is stable. The everyday self shifts constantly.
The true self is driven by a deep sense of truth. The everyday self is driven by the ego, the unending demands of “I, me, mine.”
The true self is at peace. The everyday self is easily agitated and disturbed.
The true self is love. The everyday self, lacking love, seeks it from outside sources.”
Once you begin to understand when you are being your truest self, try to repeat it.
Try not to imagine this as “self-improvement” or as a process of “creating” a new you.
Think of it more as peeling back the layers that have been added from societal pressures, past relationships, trauma, or anything else that has held you back from unearthing the “core” of you. The core of you is beautiful. The core of you rules.
Double check your surroundings.
Who do your friends like: the real you? Or the “you” you’re pretending to be? Do you feel like you need to alter yourself to appease them?
What about your workplace, home, or even the city you live in? Is it in accordance with who you are and what you want?
Try to cultivate an environment that is suitable for you to be YOU.
And last, but certainly not least:
Stop giving a crap about what other people think.
THIS IS SO HARD. I KNOW.
Human beings are social people, and we tend to compare ourselves to others in order to judge our own worthiness. This will NEVER lead to you being comfortable with your true self (or let alone even discovering him/her).
The only person you should be judging yourself against is YOU.
How can YOU be better than YOU were yesterday? Or five years ago?
No matter what you do in life, people will be there to criticize you. There is no possible way for you to please everyone you know.
Statistically speaking, the same amount of people will like/dislike you when you’re being your true self versus the people-pleasing self, so why not be authentic and free while you’re at it?
I’ll leave you with a quote from Mr. Chopra, because he is much more wise than I and speaks with more eloquence than I could muster in a lifetime:
“The greatest spiritual secret in the world is that every problem has a spiritual solution, not because every prayer is answered by a higher power but because the true self, once discovered, is the source of creativity, intelligence, and personal growth.”
– Deepak Chopra