“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”
- May Sarton
In this column, you will learn simple but powerful tips on how to lead an authentic life from a wide range of experts.
Clicking on the expert names below will take you to their individual blurb on living an authentic life.
Living authentically means trusting yourself.
Trusting your judgments, your visions, your ideas and knowing that no matter what you are going to be okay. We are taught how to fear early on in life by many of the influences around us and then end up spending a lot of time deciphering what feels right for us versus what doesn’t, with a dash of hesitation in between.
Anticipatory anxiety comes from fear of the future and the unknowns accompanying it. Fear of all the things that could wrong and how that it may impact us. Even if we trust our decisions, we may fear that other people’s decisions will “screw everything up,” so we want to plan for that too by worrying about it.
We may believe that by worrying enough about something, a solution will reveal itself or better yet, we can avoid the discomfort altogether by not doing or saying anything and continuing to live in limbo…hoping it all just works itself out on its own. But if that’s not working, then let’s just go back to worrying so we can see all the potential obstacles in the way.
Where does worry get us? Living in the pain we are trying to avoid.
How do you know you can trust yourself?
Turn around. Look at your past. Look at the many, many times you were scared to speak up, or take a step forward, or make a wrong turn. Did you ultimately end up okay? Eventually at the place you wanted to be, with the kind of people you wanted to be with, feeling safe and loved and more comfortable in your skin?
Perhaps not every step of the way, but did you finally arrive? Most of the time, yes.
But if you didn’t, what did you learn along the way? Where did you find your strength? How did you get through it?
You may have found great support by others you didn’t know was available to you or you may have even dug down and found your own ability to support yourself. You may have even began to see that what you thought you needed, you didn’t. You may have learned that you could rely on yourself…in turn, trusting yourself.
Most of us are talented at not trusting ourselves.
Often looking for outside validation to confirm what we think is “right.” And most of the time, that outside validation feels wonderful. It feels great to talk to get a perspective you value, but how long do you hold on to it? How long do you trust what others say?
How often do you find yourself looking for advice or opinions of others just to feel like you can trust your own feelings and vibes?
One way to practice trusting yourself is to take a week off or even a few days from asking anyone for their advice or opinion.
No matter what is going on, allow yourself to sit with the question until you feel the answer and then trust it. See how it goes. Let yourself be the dominant voice in your life and make your decisions based on how YOU feel, not what anyone else does. The more you practice this, the easier it will get. And once you start recognizing that you have all the answers you need…because life is actually working out for you…you will hold on to your own sense and abilities even more.
Another technique when making decisions is to ask yourself what is actually scaring you.
What is the fear that is prohibiting you to decide? Once you identify what the fear is, take it out. Take it fully out of the equation as if nothing “bad” can happen…and let that feeling of safety, of trust, let you choose which decision you will make. It’s a quick and simple way to know which direction your intuition is sending you.
And since Trust is the antidote to Fear, you’ll know what decision is best suited for you and not covered up by meaningless worry.
Trusting yourself is not only an incredible gift of self-acceptance and respect, it’s also a huge time saver from having to search for answers you already know. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt and know that your inspired feelings are designed just for you. And most importantly, enjoy that level of trust…it simply makes life that much more fun.
Lynn Reilly LPC, Master Energy Therapist – www.healingwithserendipity.com
Have you come to the realization that you don’t really accept yourself for who you simply and truly are? Authentic self acceptance takes courage.
The problem is that when you don’t accept yourself, there are many things that interfere with your ability to change whatever it is that you want to change in your life.
How to accept yourself?
The root of the self acceptance problem is to be true to yourself. When you don’t accept yourself just the way you are you become a cheater. Somebody else takes control of the “inner you” by influencing what you do but also who you are and how you feel.
And it is not your fault! Your own family, and the pressure of society, can push you too hard into how things should or shouldn’t be or look like.
Your family could have once pressed you to study one thing or another, your peers could have influenced you on who you dated, married or socialized with. Society may be pressing you so you can be considered successful or how much you should weigh to be a healthy and beautiful person.
The solution to not being loyal to who you really are starts with finding out your inner you, and honor it: Self acceptance.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the voice of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Steve Jobs,
Let’s do an exercise…
· Stand up,
· Close your eyes,
· Visualize yourself being happy.
How does it look and feel?
I always visualize myself with a straw hat on a beach under the sun. That’s me. I need to be outdoors. Sunshine nourishes me and the sea salt from the sea makes me feel calm and at peace with myself and the world around me. I don’t see money, travel, success or even beautiful clothes or other possessions. That’s the inner, happy and simple me. The one who is ready to do whatever it takes…
Try it yourself…
Do the exercise and hold on that vision…and on how it feels… that’s the feeling you want to have when you want to change something or embark in a new personal project. Accept who you are and don’t let anything or anybody else make you stay away from that feeling.
Go deeper and analyze what has been going on in your life that is stopping you from that feeling.
There may be things that you can’t change, but by acknowledging them you’ll be one step closer to letting them go and setting yourself free.
You want to start when you were a kid, before the people around started influencing and forcing you to make decisions about who you are or who you should be. Who were you before that? And what interfered with being the real you? Acknowledge it and let it go. Don’t hold onto it any longer. That belongs to the past and there is nothing else that you can do about it now. This is self acceptance.
Let’s make changes
Now, let’s go a step further to recognize and accept that you want to change something and make the commitment to do it.
During the exercise, once you see yourself in that “happy place”, try to see other things that are interfering with that feeling now, and are not letting you enjoy your happiness fully. Those are the things that you can change.
Start with the question: What is really, truly and sincerely what you want?
You need courage to face the true answer. Most of us think that we want something that is actually an idea of us. That idea is the product of all the influences we have received from birth…how do you break that?
You need lots of self assessment and sincerity…is it really what I want or is it what I have been conditioned to want?
It might be your significant other that makes you feel you are not good enough.
Maybe these feelings are what make you unsatisfied with your current job, so you keep fighting for a better job. Maybe, your parents keep interfering with how you take care of your family, it could be your kids always asking for more, or your boss making you feel worthless.
Being happy with who you are, letting go of negative feelings and thoughts (yours or other people’s) that are holding you back and searching for what you really want is the way to go. When you accept yourself the way you are, you’ll start being free from all the ties that don’t let you evolve. That’s the right ground for the seeds to flourish: the right habits and behaviors that will allow you to make real changes in your life which will help you to be happy.
And once you have recognized, accepted and made the commitment to make some changes, how do you do it?
1. Change your routine. Align it with what you want to be as much as you can. Your daily routine may be working against you.
2. Be a bit selfish. Remember that all that surrounds you has contributed to making you who you are, and that may be a different person from who you actually want to be.
3. Seek change. Nothing will change if you don’t make it happen.
4. Make a plan. It’s hard to deconstruct something that has been built up over your whole life without a plan.
5. Seek authentic people and surroundings. You will not succeed if you don’t surround yourself with people with a growth mindset. This will also help you reinforce your commitment to change.
However, be aware of when your goals are too unrealistic to achieve with the tools you have right now. You might need to compromise until the day you can accomplish them.
What about you? Are you ready?
Arantxa Mateo, Nutrition Specialist – www.32mondays.com
I don’t believe in imperfections.
I believe anything that you might think of as an imperfection is actually a gift designed to help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself that will allow you to live more authentically.
In my own life, I spent a lot (A LOT) of time worrying about my physical imperfections. Not things like my skin or eyebrows, but the shape of my body.
For years and years I thought I had to lose weight, and obsessed about everything I ate. I eventually developed an eating disorder, and it consumed a lot of my world.
I’ve been in recovery for about four years now, and even though going through it was no fun at all, I really did gain some perspective and began to live more authentically.
It made me ask what it was that drove me to be so concerned about my body, and wonder why I was so focused on my perceived imperfections.
I think the answer is fear.
I was focusing on my body because I was afraid of living my truth. I was obsessing about food because it was easier than focusing on things that scared me. It was easy to use my body and what I thought was wrong with it as an excuse and distraction from living a life that was authentically aligned.
The way that I got out of my eating disorder was by letting go of the thoughts that told me I had to keep dieting and had to keep obsessing about my body and weight. Since then, there is so much space available for creativity, for meditation, for exploration of my truest self. When I was obsessing about my imperfections, there was no possible way to be fully me.
Regardless of your alleged imperfection, though, there is learning to be had.
Do you think you’re too shy? Too pushy? Not caring enough of the people around you? Too caring?
If you investigate these imperfections you’ll find out their not imperfections at all—they’re beliefs. Deeply held beliefs, at that.
These jumbled beliefs, the ones that you tell yourself so often that they make your stomach hurt, they’re destroying your chances of living the life you’re meant to live.
Every moment you spend believing there’s something wrong with you is a moment to pivot and be kind to yourself. Every moment you act in a way that feels wrong to you is an opportunity to make a change and embrace who you really are.
Don’t let these negative beliefs about your imperfections keep you from dreaming, from reaching, from trying. Don’t let them get in the way of saying yes when it’s something you really want. Don’t let them rule you, because each time you do, you’re getting further away from the real you.
I don’t believe in perfect, but I believe we can all be perfectly ourselves. Let go of imperfections and allow your real self to shine.
Jen Picicci, MHS, Artist & Writer - www.jenpicicci.com
We are taught from early infancy to look externally to help us develop a sense of self.
Indeed it is the job of adults to help socialize children into becoming well-adjusted, productive members of society. Developmentally we rely on our parents, teachers, clergy, community leaders and the media to help us figure out who we are and how to behave. From the smallest behavioral norms to the larger issues of our values and belief systems we learn by looking outside of ourselves for the necessary information.
Ironically, we don’t really reach maturity until we make the shift from relying on external support and validation to looking inward and examining our own thoughts and feelings.
Obviously, this is a major developmental shift but if we are unsuccessful we will remain forever dependent on the outside world to tell us what to think and to tell us who we are. Not only will we struggle to create meaningful lives, we will be ill equipped to help launch the next generation. Because we are anxious about who we are, we will tend to live inauthentic lives.
An authentic sense of self is developed by looking inward not outward.
This is a difficult shift, because for so long we relied on our parents to tell us what to think and do. As teenagers our peer group was critical to us as a measure of what was acceptable. Think back to junior high school (horrible, I know). Most of us were not authentic selves. We were imitators- relying on the norms of the media and those few lucky popular kids to tell us what to like and how to behave. We didn’t want to be ourselves because we wanted to be liked. The last thing we wanted was to be different!
How then do we make this critical shift from an external to an internal locus of control?
Ironically it starts for many of us when we become more rebellious and less compliant with our parents. Teenagers are difficult in part because they are rebelling against parental control and trying to find their own voices. It’s hard to do because while they aren’t really ready to stand alone, they absolutely need to begin to feel what it’s like to be autonomous. Although the peer group remains important, real independence begins when a teenager says, “This is what I think” regardless of external reactions. Along with that independence comes responsibility for the consequences of our actions. That is what it means to be an adult.
I have found that very few of us become so self-defined that we are impervious to external pressures and judgments.
We are social animals; we want to belong. But belonging at the expense of your sense of self is a bad bargain. When you stand on your own two feet and say “This is what I think, need, feel or want”, in spite of external objections, we are authentic adults. Self-definition is a synonym for authenticity. Being authentic means having the courage stand up to external pressures, wherever they come from, and be a self.
Sally Leboy, MS, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
Comparison…we have all been there, done that. Every single one of us.
The self-doubt, the self-deprecation. The feeling that we aren’t thin enough / pretty enough / smart enough / good enough / etc. The feeling that we simply don’t compare to the other women around us.
It’s not hard to see why. Women are bombarded with messaging on how to “improve” themselves on a daily basis. Whether it is makeup, diet, fitness, clothing, belief systems, or ways of being, the media is constantly in our face, giving us “tips” on how we could be “better people.”
And how do they do it?
By showing us images of other women, forcing us to compare. Over time it can really wear on us, even break us down. Negative self-talk becomes increasingly frequent. Negative talk about others also becomes more regular. And ultimately, we aren’t truly able to love ourselves or others.
I mean, is it any real wonder why we are experiencing record rates of anxiety and depression?
Comparison really is the thief of joy – for everyone.
The good news is, you can stop this negative thinking just as easily as you began. You can let go of the frustration and the comparison, and learn to love yourself more.
With just 2 simple, yet powerful steps you can infuse more love into your life and ditch the constant negative comparison to others.
Step 1: Practice radical self-love.
Remember, it starts with YOU! You can’t truly send love to others in your life if you can’t send love to yourself.
I want you to post messages on your mirror about how freaking gorgeous you are.
I want you to record messages to yourself about how amazing you are.
I want you to write down love notes to yourself every day.
I want you to read those love notes every day.
I want you to eat foods that LOVE your body.
I want you to do exercises that LOVE your muscles.
You may not 100% believe in the things you are saying and doing in the beginning, you may even feel silly at first. But that’s ok! It is totally normal! It is likely quite different from how you have been operating for a long time – remember that it will take some time to adjust and for this to become your new way of thinking and being.
But it is also a powerful practice that helps push back against the consistent messaging we are exposed to every day. Radical self-love is therefore the best way to fight the comparison urge.
Step 2: Give without the expectation of receiving anything back.
This is a hard one, I know. Especially with the climate of the country. Lots of judgement, lots of anger. But maybe rather than build emotional walls, compare to one another, and tune each other out, it’s instead time to really, truly love each other and take care of one another.
These can be very simple things, like smiling more at those around you. Assisting a coworker with a task. Saying genuinely nice things to people. Really listening to someone when they are speaking to you. Focusing on taking care of friends and family that need your help. Volunteering at a local animal shelter. Bringing the elderly in your community meals. Donating money to a cause that is important to you.
It’s creating the world that you want, starting with your personal relationships and the community in which you live. Take time to build others up rather than knocking them down; rather than comparing to those around, simply focus on loving them instead.
I challenge you to practice these 2 steps every day for the next 30 days.
Do it for YOU. Do it for your partner. Do it for your family. Do it for your community. I promise you will see a significant decrease in the negativity and comparison and a significant increase in happiness and feeling content, which feels amazing!
Are you up to the task?
Jamie Molnar, M.App.Psych., LMHC - www.yourblissedoutlife.com
Living in full self expression is one of the most important ways to live an authentic life.
Expressing ourselves, whether it be with our voice, in writing, singing, dancing or art, is the only way for the world to experience the truth of who we are. Unless we move our thoughts from our mind and express our purpose, passion and desires, we aren’t living authentically.
Being authentic means living true to one’s personality, spirit or character.
An authentic life requires self-expression that’s aligned with your soul. Authentic self-expression is the language of the soul.
How do you know the ways you express yourself are aligned and authentic?
They have a feeling inside that’s good, light, free, easy, or exciting…a “Hell yes!” The confusion happens when we express ourselves based on other people’s ideas, opinions or rules. That kind of self-expression usually has the opposite feeling inside the body; tight, constricted, bad, difficult or awkward…a “Hell no!”
To live fully self-expressed requires we learn the language of our own soul, listen to our intuition and understand what feels aligned or not aligned. With this kind of awareness we have a choice; to speak, write, sing, dance or paint from a place that’s true for us, a place from which our essence can come forward and shine out into the world.
Many people are challenged with feelings of self-doubt, fear and shame when it comes to expressing themselves fully in the world.
Looking at these feelings and addressing the thoughts and beliefs behind them is the way toward overcoming and healing them. Finding, speaking and healing your voice can be one of the most powerful ways to heal deep, old wounds.
When overwhelming feelings of self-doubt, fear and shame get in the way of authentic self expression it’s helpful to seek out the help you need to learn the skills necessary to heal and transform this kind of pain. This can be in the form of a therapist, coach, or teacher/mentor. The most important thing is to practice the awareness, and trust what you feel.
Authentic self-expression is part of the healing work that changes the world.
When you choose to work on this one thing, you’re choosing the path of a brave healer. Remember, your voice matters. You’re worthy because you were born. The world is waiting for you to express your unique self and your gifts!
Laura Probert, MPT - www.lauraprobert.com
Wayne Dyer says, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."
Such good advice to follow, since you know that challenges will come your way as you go through life and your perspective is a major factor in how things turn out.
When I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease, 30+ years ago, I thought my life was over.
I was pregnant at the time and was concerned about my baby's health, as well as my own. But through a twist of fate, I was introduced to a book, which explained the Law of Attraction, the concept that we attract into our lives what we put the most attention on. The book explained that we are the creators of our own reality and that by harnessing this knowledge, we can make powerful changes that even create what we most desire.
From this crisis, I learned perseverance, faith, love, discipline and commitment.
I learned that setbacks do not mean failure, nor do they mean defeat. I learned to believe in myself and to trust my intuitive sense. I especially learned to keep my mind steadfast on the positive and to focus on the end result with determination and conviction.
So, what are some of the things you are facing?
If you can sort through the circumstances of your life and make a list of the ones that are preventing you from being happy, successful, at peace or in alignment, you will start your momentum to overcome the challenge. This brings out your authentic self, which is very powerful, unwavering and committed.
Examine what you are afraid of.
Is it the unknown, the process, the results? Remember, that whatever you focus on with intensity and emotion will set the universe in motion to make it happen. That is providence. Therefore, muster up your strength of character, patience and courage and know that those are the tools you need to improve any situation. Know that you can change how you feel about what's happening and move through the challenge with much more ease and autonomy.
A negative perspective is like a disease and if you don't want to be infected with it, you need to protect yourself. Joy, humor, rejuvenation, rebirth, excitement and faith all give you the inner strength and courage to face your challenges and that plays a big role in the outcome.
Things may not seem so grim if you keep yourself inspired.
Whether it's the thousands of people, who before you, have mastered their difficult situations, or just your past history of getting through adversity, remind yourself that anything is possible. Your courage does not always make itself known though epic proportions. It could just be the silent awareness that everything, including you, will be fine.
When you realize your perspective has changed things, big things become little and little things are no longer worrisome.
So, if you feel joy in your heart, have a light-hearted spirit, and can laugh at yourself again, you will have overcome what you originally thought was too difficult or almost impossible. You will reaffirm your authentic self, because this is who you really are.
Someone once told me that the difference between “try” and “triumph” is a little “umph” and I believe that in order to triumph over your challenges, that inner change in perspective is the “umph” you need to keep you courageous and confident.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
One of the biggest insights I have ever received is to look at the world as a mirror.
When you do so, you see everything as either love, or a cry for love.
In doing this kind of “mirror work” with yourself and the world, everything changes. Whatever you see, you recognize within yourself, as a projection you’ve made, and not necessarily what is true, right, or real.
Through building and finding genuine connections with other people, you are also seeing yourself within them – warts and all. It can almost become like a game. When you’re triggered by something or someone, it’s an opportunity to go within and heal something in yourself. When you see something wonderful within another person, it’s something you can only comprehend because it’s inside of you too.
When you build genuine connections with others, they also see you as they see themselves, and the truth and depth of these connections means that your new friends will also know when you are not being authentic. This is my personal favourite mirror of all. Whether they are a significant other, or, a great friend, they are a constant, living, breathing, moving touchstone reminder of who you are, and when you are hiding.
Here are a few key beliefs that are helpful to put in place when building genuine connections with others.
I Completely Accept Myself. Exactly as I am.
This is the centre of it all. If you want to build genuine connections, you must be totally accepting of others exactly the way they are – warts and all! And, to be completely and deeply accepting of others without projecting your own “stuff” onto them, you also must be completely accepting of yourself. With your fears, your insecurities, doubts, flaws, quirks, idiosyncrasies, as well as your goals, dreams, desires and beliefs.
I have Boundaries that Support Me.
One of the most beautiful mirroring practices in relationships is of understanding when to give, and when not to give. Genuine connection means genuine, truthful, honest connection. Having boundaries and knowing when to say no, in a way that keeps you safe and energized will support genuine trust, connection and respect. It will also help you understand what feels authentic to you, and stick to it.
I check in before I say yes.
When you give from a place of “hell yes”, you give freely. When you give from “I should”, or, “I have to”, you are depleting yourself, and not giving someone a truthful experience of who you are. By checking in and being aware of yourself in each situation, you can build genuine relationships which will support your authenticity. These relationships will also support you unconditionally as you do for them.
I Give and Receive.
Building genuine connections means connecting in a way that builds rapport and understanding between all parties. It’s not always about listening to others and helping them, it’s about asking for help yourself, sharing yourself with others, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable, as well as reciprocating. Listen deeply. Be present with others. And through acceptance and understanding that we are all human, magic ensues. You’ll never believe what kind of connections are created when people remember they are human and share vulnerably what really feels true for them.
I have permission to be Messy, and to Shine.
Expectations kill relationships. When you are building your ability to be authentic, don’t try to be perfect. Just be you. Exactly as you are, in this moment. A true experience of you speeds up the inevitable. You will end up with more of those in your life who support you and accept you, and less who find the real you uncomfortable. Genuine relationships mean you show up, and you both share what’s true for you. You don’t put on a brave face and pretend everything’s ok when it’s not, or hide your wins and your successes and play small so as not to make anyone uncomfortable.
I truly care.
Authenticity isn’t just about showing the world who you really are through what you do and say – sometimes it’s completely the opposite. Sometimes it’s about showing people who you are by listening to someone more deeply than they’ve ever been listened to before. Ask thoughtful questions, and really listen to what is being said – the most wonderful, genuine relationships where authenticity flourishes, are the ones where everyone feels completely safe, and heard.
I am a Human.
The best thing to remember, whenever you’re building relationships with others is that you, and they, are both human. You both make mistakes. You both poop. You both have things you never want the world to find out about you. You both have fears, dreams, aspirations, and things you desire to do before you die. When you can remember this, you will find a genuine connection with everyone you meet. And it makes it so much easier for you to just, be you.
Hayley Carr, NLP Trainer and Life Coach - www.hayleycarr.tv
How often do you set a goal for yourself and then totally neglect to do it?
This week, I set the goal of exercising most days.
Did I do it?
Of course not…
Because this is something I feel I should do. In my ideal world, I’d be motivated to go to the gym every day. But the truth is, I’m just not.
Even as I was setting this goal for myself, I already felt disconnected. That familiar sense of inner avoidance signaled to me that I wasn’t bringing my authentic self to the table. If I wanted to exercise daily, I was going to have to get real with myself.
So I thought to myself, “What is it that makes me feel truly alive?”
The answer came quickly: Adventure.
By incorporating exercise into different adventures, a list of ideas flowed effortlessly; ride my bike to a new part of Brooklyn that I haven’t explored yet, walk across one of the bridges that I haven’t yet crossed, try a booty-popping dance class that I’ve always been curious about (but too afraid to try), or go on a tour of New York to personally try all of the best coffees.
By shifting my goal setting from my head (from what I should do) to my heart (what I long to) - I felt motivated and inspired by the prospect of achieving these goals. And, I can happily report that I’ve been exercising most days as a result.
When we set goals from a place of authenticity, we align our values, which are our deepest desires, with action.
And as a result, moving towards our goals flows naturally as it’s intrinsically rewarding. When we set goals that aren’t authentic, they fall flat and we have to really push to keep up our motivation.
When we drop into ourselves and set goals that are aligned with our authentic selves, we naturally feel a deeper sense of connection with ourselves, allowing us to feel attuned, in flow and inspired.
But why is that we get so caught up in doing what we should do? And why do we struggle so deeply to live authentically, to live a life that is true to ourselves? One would think that being authentic is something that seems so intuitive, and yet we often find it quite difficult to do.
I started to realize that in trying to be authentic, we’re not just fighting our innate drive to conform, but we are also consciously choosing to connect with ourselves. In a society where we’re largely so disconnected, where we exhaust ourselves with just trying to keep up with the status quo, no wonder we find it hard to be authentic. Really, it comes as no surprise that feeling connected with ourselves, which takes some conscious effort and time, just feels too hard to do.
So how can we incorporate being more authentic in our every day life? It can be as simple as changing how we set our goals.
Here are four easy tips for authentic goal setting:
1. Work out what’s truly important to YOU.
What makes you feel excited, connected or alive? These feelings are a good guide that the goal you’re setting is truly yours.
2. Be real with yourself.
Check in with yourself by asking “Am I setting this goal because this is something that I value? Or is it just what I think I should do?
We can all too easily get caught up in doing what we think we should do or what others are doing, rather than what we actually value.
So, it’s essential that you’re always asking yourself why you want to set a goal and look at what is driving that goal.
3. Set goals that are inspiring but also realistic.
It’s difficult to be truly authentic when your goal isn’t in touch with reality. Saying you want to buy a house when you have no savings, isn’t very realistic and can detract from your motivation. Make your goal more motivating by making it realistic e.g. I will learn how to save, so that I can then buy a house one day.
4. Make sure your goal is measurable and specific.
You need to know what it is that you’re working towards and how you’ll know you have achieved it. Setting something like “I want to be happy” might be nice, but how do you actually do that? What is it that makes you happy? Going for a swim in the morning before work because it makes you feel happy? Now that’s a goal you can measure.
Don’t be afraid to break your goal down into little steps so that you can start ticking things off along the way, this will help you to actually achieve your goals and set more authentic goals in the future.
So, at the end of the day, if you’re able to answer:
i) What is my goal?
ii) Why do I want to achieve this?
iii) How will I do it?
You’ll know that you are being authentic with yourself when it comes to setting goals.
May you feel truly connected.
Dr. Kass Sarll, Psychologlist – www.happinessinsight.com
“There is no beauty without some strangeness.” Edgar Allan Poe
Be authentic. Speak sincerely. Listen actively. Act compassionately.
For many of us this is what we truly believe we should do and who we actually are deep down.
Still, how many times have you changed your opinion or acted the way other people wanted you to, just to be accepted?
Let’s be honest, people pleasing hides the real you.
When you try to impress others, and find yourself on the side of the majority, you lose yourself without even noticing.
In today’s society, where most us follow the same trends, consistently buy meaningless things we don’t need, and poison our bodies with processed food just because a commercial says it is “healthy”, do you know where you stand?
How often do you stop and think?
Is this what I truly believe in? Am I living the life I love and deserve? What happened to MY values, dreams, and goals I so ardently held close to my heart when I was younger?
The truth is that being authentic starts with you. With learning to love yourself, respect your values and know your worth. With a strong desire for freedom, to disconnect from everything that you do not want to be -- your past, self-pity, fear, the way you were taught to live your life when you were a child.
The moment you stop following the crowd and stand up for what you truly believe in, you attract attention. You become an outsider. You show the real you which only a few have the courage to do.
Here are three simple steps followed by a few powerful questions to help you get you started:
1. Write It Down
Writing down your core values will help you see them clearly in front of you.
Ask yourself, what values am I really practicing and what are the ones I keep hiding from even though I subconsciously believe in them?
- What do you truly value in life?
- How much are you willing to sacrifice to live your values?
When you decide to redefine you values and learn who you are, your life will change. All of a sudden, you love being you. You fall in love with the person you’ve always been but hid inside for so many years.
2. Redefine Yourself
Do you really know who you are?
When you find your true self, you stop saying sorry for who you are and what you stand for.
Make an effort to learn to love yourself more – take a moment to reconnect each morning by journaling, meditating, and visualizing your path to success. Think of an old passion you had as a child but never dared to pursue because others told you it was impossible.
- What do you absolutely love about yourself?
- What do you hate about yourself?
- What are your current interests and goals?
It is never too late to reinvent yourself – when you let go of your past you let go of insecurities, worries, and anything that weighs you down.
3. Simplify Your Life
Making things simple and getting rid of unnecessary distractions will greatly improve your life -- declutter your wardrobe, distance yourself from the negative people, prepare your own meals, consume less.
Spend more time in silence to gather your thoughts and listen to what your heart tells you. Find pleasure and happiness in developing your mind, staying active and being connected to nature, in learning new skills and reading every day. This gives you time away from the outside world to think of what YOU want, to focus on your dreams and goals and redefine your life the way you want it to be, not the way others want you to live.
Believe in your ideas and everything you can do.
- What do you want to achieve in life?
- What are your dreams/goals you never had the courage to pursue?
Go back and look at your past accomplishments. Analyze them carefully and write down the steps that got you to success. Become aware of how far you’ve come and realize that there is so much more you can accomplish.
Authenticity is all about knowing who you are and being brave enough to live it.
When you stop caring about what others think and ignore the negativity, you will start living the life you want.
Always remember, if you are your authentic self, you have no competition. Own who you are. Love yourself. Be you.
Tee Sebastién, Life Coach - www.growbrilliant.org
Do a search on the Internet for “find your purpose” and you’ll like get hundreds of thousands of results.
Actually 509,000,000 results. I did a search myself.
Are we so lost that we have to look online for tools, tips, resources and experiences around finding our purpose?
Where should you be looking for that elusive thing called purpose?
When you were a child you didn’t stop to think about why you should play jump rope or run through puddles or skateboard. It was just something you did because you wanted to, because it felt good, because it was a way to express yourself.
You didn’t wait for someone to tell you the rules; you made them up yourself. And when you were done with your activity, you just stopped. If something else caught your attention you did that.
Watch children and you’ll see them move from one thing to another like butterflies among sweet flowers. Once they’re full, they move on.
Purpose, how we make meaning, is not static. As we grow it changes. What mattered to you in your twenties is different than what matters in your forties or sixties. To say there is one purpose behind your life is to limit your potential, to cease growing and evolving into the most expansive version of yourself.
No one grows up saying they want to live a small, meaningless and indifferent life.
When you are constantly bombarded by images of the perfect woman, wife, friend, daughter, mother, teacher, entrepreneur, Instagram personality – on and on –you sub-consciously compare yourself to others. This superficial measurement outranks your self-affirmation. You begin to believe what others tell you about how your life should be instead of self-validating your desires and dreams.
The trouble with seeking your purpose is that you’re focused on the external as if purpose existed out there somewhere hidden behind glossy Instagram pictures and stories of successful people doing amazing things.
The dirty little secret behind a search for purpose is that it is driven by a need to be affirmed, accepted, loved, adored and valued. That is why people search “out there” for purpose instead of looking inward.
5 Questions To Discover Your Purpose
What is it that you could not stop doing because it would be like not breathing?
I’ve been writing since I was ten. In third grade my teacher told me I couldn’t write. I went home devastated crying as if my life were over. When I told my mother what the teacher said, she asked one of the wisest questions I’ve ever been asked.
She asked, “Do you believe her?”
My answer, “no”, came so quickly that my hurt ego never had a chance to interfere. “So what’s the problem? Keep writing,” said my mother. And I did. Not because I cared about my teacher but because I cared about my soul. I could not stop writing because it would be like not breathing.
What’s happening when you lose track of time?
Watch great performers, musicians, athletes, and artists at their craft. Look into their eyes and you will see both a vastness and a focus of intention. There are those moments of exquisite presence where the world falls away and all that is left is the deepest part of your soul expressing itself through your art, skill or talent. That vastness is the connection to a universal energy that allows your art to flow. The focus is your intentional channeling of that energy into the activity that involves you completely. What is that for you?
What would you do if money or belonging were not an issue at all?
These are the two principal drivers of self-censorship when it comes to going after what you really care about. If you feel that your longing is at odds with making a living or being accepted you will never go after what truly matters to you.
What if you already knew your purpose?
I’m all for reflection and mindfulness as a means to listen to your inner truth. But it’s not enough. Clarity comes from reflection paired with action and followed by assessment and re-engagement. In other words, get off your ass and do something, anything that has a possibility of engaging your senses and brings you a sense of accomplishment.
Take things on as if they were an experiment, not a decision. Unless you try on new things you’ll never discover the potential of what is possible for you. You may fail at some things and succeed at others but if you don’t act you’ll never get further than your couch.
“Follow your longing. It knows where it’s going.” ~ Alicia M. Rodriguez
How do you want to be remembered?
You build your legacy the moment you become aware of wanting to make a difference in the world. Will you be remembered for being the best couch potato ever or will you be remembered for your art, for your kindness or for your creativity? What do you want to leave behind for the betterment of a person or people or simply for your own sense of meaning?
“Choose what you really want because you’ll need to put 150% into it and you don’t want to put 150% into a compromise.” ~ Alicia M. Rodriguez
Most people don’t like it when I tell them to stop seeking their purpose. Asking, “What is my purpose?” leads you through a maze to nowhere. Stop looking for your purpose out there.
Get to know who you are today and purpose will find you. As you age what you care about will change. That’s how you grow and evolve. You will discover that there are many ways, not just one way, to express yourself authentically.
Ultimately purpose is the result of being authentic and living in harmony with that.
Alicia Rodriguez, M.A., P.C.C. – www.aliciamrodriguez.com
“When you say YES to others, make sure you are not saying NO to yourself” - Paulo Coelho
Being Authentic. We search for it, we read about it, we strive to be it, we discover it, we may question it and at times we hide from it.
It’s a concept that is thrown around a lot.
So, I ask you, what does being authentic really mean to you? What does it look like in your day-to-day?
For me, I began to tap into my authentic truth when I learned to say no. People pleasing was my default for many years.
The reason… I didn’t want to hurt others, I didn’t want to disappoint loved ones, I didn’t want to be viewed as difficult at work or to be disliked.
Subconsciously, I believed saying No meant I was being selfish in some way or threatened the positive opinions I felt others had about me.
In the end, it led to feeling depleted, worn out, tired, frustrated, unappreciated and at times resentful.
Many of us have been taught the importance of giving but we not taught how to give without giving ourselves away in the process. To give is natural but to take responsibility to ensure your needs are met takes practice particularly for people pleasers.
We see this often in romantic relationships when collaboration stops and power dynamics are created because one partner takes on the role of the giver in the relationship creating an imbalance.
When your sense of loyalty and commitment to others is strong, it often is at the expensive of your own happiness.
Many of our commitments are to those we are dating, to spouses, children and other loved ones, taking on the responsibility of ensuring their happiness. In doing so, we put our needs last in order to make others happy. Dare I say, even when we don’t want to.
Saying yes or saying no are neither good or bad, its whether the accumulation of Yes’s are leaving you feeling unhappy or unfulfilled. This is when learning to say No becomes imperative.
Of course, they will be times when you say yes to doing something that you may not have time to do or just don’t feel up to it. This happens. Sometimes we can’t avoid it.
But when you are continually say Yes to others reluctantly, you begin to compromise yourself inevitably moving further and further away from your true being.
Being authentic entails advocating for your needs and wants.
This means standing up for yourself and saying No even when it’s tough knowing you may disappoint others. How do you do this?
Here are three tips to get you started:
1. Stop. Listen. Then Decide.
We all lead busy lives. At times, leaving little room for yourself. When you are in high demand from the people in your life (professionally or personally) you run the risk of energy depletion. When this happens it’s a pretty good indication that you’re saying yes way too often. The next time someone requests something from you, pause. There’s no need to reply right away. This is the perfect time to connect with yourself.
Get out of your head and drop into your body. Connect with your inner authentic voice. Take time to ask yourself... Is this something I really want to do? Do I have time to do this or will I be once again stretching myself? What are my choices? How can a compromise be made so that I’m not falling into the same pattern?
By asking yourself these types of questions and answering them from a place of truth, you begin to take back your innate power. Overtime making it harder to ignore your true self and easier to decline requests that are compromising your happiness.
2. Set boundaries
Setting boundaries teaches others how to treat you. Remember, you are in control of who or what you allow into your life. You are not a passive participate but a powerful being who gets to decide what is aligned with who you are. Boundary setting eliminates allowing others to take advantage of you.
Some powerful questions to help you set boundaries are…am I accepting certain behaviors that go against my values? What will be the impact if things stay the same? What action steps make the most sense?
You can then make the necessary adjustments. Boundary setting will teach others to respect your time and energy creating healthier, happier relationships in your life.
3. Practice Meeting Your Needs
The most important relationship to build is the one with yourself. It will impact every other relationship you have in your life. Every time you reluctantly say yes, you are sending yourself the message that other people’s needs are more important than your own.
Overtime, this will decrease your self-esteem and increase a lack of trust in yourself. Saying yes doesn’t mean having to say no to yourself. On the flip side, saying no doesn’t mean you are being selfish.
Begin to view meeting your needs as being self-full rather than selfish. Recognize that your needs are just as important as everyone else’s in your life and need to be treated as such. Start by making a list of 10 nice things you can do for yourself or what brings you joy. Pick one to do each week. It can take as little as 5 mins or longer as you wish. Just schedule it in and commit to self-fulfilment.
Michelle Peña, BA, BSW (Hons), RSW, CAPP - www.livtru.ca
Vulnerability is a key element of authenticity.
When you are not being vulnerable, it’s as if you have a brick wall around you, keeping the world out, and keeping you in. You don’t get to be you, to share you, or to receive from others with that wall in place.
When you are willing to be vulnerable, you give yourself access to all of you. From there, you can bring yourself more fully to your relationships with others and to the world around you!
Here are a few key practices & pieces of information that will allow you to have more vulnerability.
Vulnerability is an inside job.
If you are not willing to be vulnerable with yourself – and get brutally honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses – you will never be able to do it with others!
Getting out of judgment of you is the key to vulnerability.
If you have no judgments of who you are and what is going on in your life, you will be able to not only be vulnerable with you, but with others too. If there is nothing wrong with you – and you embody that totally – there is nothing to hide!!
Vulnerability is the ultimate power.
When you are willing to approach the world with no walls, with your barriers down, and with the total willingness to be seen, you are not only making yourself immune to other peoples’ judgments and needs, you are suddenly the most potent and inviting person in the room. If you dare!!
Vulnerability is a choice.
When you notice that you have barriers up to you, or to others, lower them. It can really be as simple as that! You ask the walls and the barriers to drop, and imagine that they are simply dissolving around you. Push them down if you have to – and see what that is like! It may be uncomfortable, but eventually being barrier-less is incredibly empowering, energizing, and enlivening. What if you could simply choose to have that as your way of being in the world?
Vulnerability is freedom.
When you are willing to be so different as to show up totally vulnerable, you have immense freedom to be YOU. Vulnerability has no judgment, no point of view, no defense, no posturing. Vulnerability says, “Welcome to my world! I have nothing to hide. Hi!!”
What would it be like to give yourself permission to be as vulnerable as you can be – and to be an invitation to a really different possibility in the world? What would it be like to have vulnerability as a choice?
You might find that you have a lot more fun, a lot more joy, and a lot more freedom to be you!
Heather Nichols, MSW - www.heathernichols.com
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and realize that prisoner was you.”- Lewis B. Smedes
People often ask me how I am able to forgive others so easily.
I get a good laugh out of this because the truth is forgiveness doesn’t always come easily to me, however throughout my life I have been given ample opportunity to practice my skills around forgiveness and truly learn what forgiveness is about.
I used to believe that forgiveness meant letting someone off the hook for how they treated you.
I thought if I forgive them then I am saying what they did to me was ok. I thought that forgiving was the same as forgetting. Over the years I have learned that forgiveness is nothing more than releasing others actions from having the ability to control my thoughts and emotions. I have also learned that forgiveness is not a onetime thing, but a choice that we make over and over again.
Imagine driving down the road enjoying a beautiful day and you pass the friend who hurt you.
Suddenly you are back in the moment where hurtful words were said. You are replaying the event in your head changing the script over and over again for what you wish you would have said or done. You want to call them up and yell and scream just to truly “help” them understand how much they hurt you and how “wrong” they were for doing it. You are thinking about how you can get back at them for what they did to you. Your happy mood has suddenly gone sour and you spend the next several hours feeling upset.
Now that same friend saw you on the road as well, but they are not the one who feels hurt or betrayed. They continue driving, windows rolled down, singing to their favorite song on the radio. They go on about their day never giving you a second thought. They have a great day filled with happiness and laughter.
The point is that our hurt, our anger, our unwillingness to forgive didn’t affect them at all. It only affects you.
It is you who ends up in a bad mood and it is you who ends up suffering. The thoughts swirling around in your head are only affecting you! Once you can truly wrap your head around this concept, forgiveness finally makes sense and becomes much simpler to do. Notice I use the word simple, because while it is a simple thing to do, it is seldom easy. Nothing worth doing ever is.
The stop sign
One of my favorite tricks to forgiveness is picturing a stop sign when I find myself getting upset with thoughts in my mind. It is a simple reminder that I control my thinking and I can stop unpleasant thoughts at any time. When I believed that I had no control over my thoughts, they took control over me and my mood.
Forgiveness is not weakness
Only the truly strong have the ability to forgive and release past hurts. Taking control of our thoughts takes practice and patience. Often we are so accustomed to our thoughts controlling our moods that we must first learn how to control our thinking. The subconscious builds off of what the conscious mind feeds it.
Forgiveness does not mean we forget or say it is ok
Forgiveness is not the same as forgetting or even saying that what someone did is ok. It is really about finding the lessons in the experience and making the conscious decision to move forward with our life more empowered than we were before the experience. It is realizing that others actions have little, if anything, to do with us. If someone chooses to treat us poorly it is a reflection of their character, not ours. Forgiveness can be as simple as learning what your boundaries are and knowing that in the future you will be able to fully express these boundaries to others.
Forgiveness does not have to mean reconciliation
We do not have to keep others in our lives who continue hurting us and crossing our boundaries. Sometimes the best thing we can do is bless and release. I recently had to end a friendship of 12 years because my friend was not respecting me or my boundaries. I wish her no ill will, I actually wish her the best in this life and hope that she is able to find all the happiness her heart desires. For me I have learned that the lesson was about self-respect. I learned that I respect myself far too much to allow others to treat me disrespectfully.
Finally, don’t forget to forgive yourself.
We all say and do things we wish we wouldn’t have. Take these moments as opportunities to grow and do better the next time around. Life is too short to waste time on regrets. Embrace the lesson, be happy for the learning experience, and move on living a life filled with abundance and love!
Kimberly Speer, CLC, ELIMP - www.destinybydesignlifecoaching.com
The practice of mindfulness teaches us to become observers; to attend to the moment without judging it so we can simply experience it for what it is.Being mindful is a simple and practical way to become more authentic and there are several practices we can use to help us do this!
1. Explore your emotions
How many times have you told someone you're "fine" when you're not?Sometimes, we suppress and ignore our real emotions because we've been conditioned to perceive some emotions as good/positive and some as bad/negative. However, by exploring our emotions and discovering that these labels aren't necessarily true, we can simply experience what we feel and communicate more about them with the people who care about us.
Take a moment to close your eyes and explore your most salient emotion right now.
How does it feel in your body?
Which thoughts do you associate with it?
How can you describe this emotion to someone else?
Is this emotion signaling that you need something (for example, boredom might be signaling that you want to be creative and happiness might be signaling that you could smile)?
2. Communicate authentically
Be more authentic in your conversations by being present and actually listening. Sometimes, we can switch off and communicate in a way which doesn't represent our true selves. For example, when my boyfriend asks me how my day was, I might be scrolling through social media, or multi-tasking, or planning our night together, and rather than sharing a genuine response, I don't truly answer his question.
By taking the time to create space for conversations with other people, we can become more mindful and more authentic in our interactions.
You might like to practice this by setting aside specific time to chat with the people in your life and to make an effort to listen and communicate regularly (without distractions!).
3. Use social media mindfully
Do you actually "like" the photo you just liked on Instagram? Did you accidentally scroll straight past a close friend's important announcement because you were scrolling just for the sake of it? Have you ever left a comment you didn't actually mean?
We have such easy access to social media and it can be tempting to use it in a non-mindful and inauthentic way. As a result, our connections with others can actually become weaker (a strange phenomenon considering we have more ways of connecting with people than ever before!) and we can miss important things in the lives of people close to us.
Here are a few tips to help you become a more mindful and authentic user of social media!
- Don't keep your phone by your side all the time. For example, if you are sitting on the couch, put your phone in the kitchen to decrease the number of times you mindlessly pick it up and start scrolling.
- When organizing an important event, you might like to consider hiring a photographer and letting your guests know that they will have access to these photos. By decreasing the need for everyone to take photos for their social media, you'll be encouraging everyone to simply enjoy their time together.
- Set a time limit for your social media use and start to view this time as your opportunity to connect with people by sharing genuine comments and taking the time to read posts.
- Put your phone away when you're spending time with others in person.
Rachael Kable, Mindfulness Mentor & Blogger - www.rachaelkable.com
I define authenticity or being authentic as being who you are.
Your real self. No longer denying what you want, desire, or feel but letting yourself live easily. Here’s the problem though, most of us can’t just let ourselves be. We dwell in what we aren’t or what we don’t have and we deny ourselves a lot of the good that’s out there. We suffer through life because we don’t allow ourselves to be who we are.
We dwell in the muck for many different reasons and one of them is that it’s easier. Think for a minute about what your life would look like if you said what you felt or what you wanted to say, or if you did what you wanted to do – maybe at first you feel a bit of relief or a sense of ease and then immediately afterward feel fearful.
Here’s what the fear is in this scenario – taking responsibility for your life.
See it’s a cinch to blame others, society, our education, the media for creating such confusion around who we are and what we really want in our lives, but it’s much more difficult to take responsibility for the fact that this is our life and if we want to live well, laugh often, enjoy the day and feel at ease in our relationships, finances, health then it’s our responsibility to make that happen.
It’s your responsibility to be who you are nobody else can do it for you. So how do you start?
1. Commit each day to living aligned with what is true for you.
That means saying, no when you want to say no. It means being honest in difficult situations. Confessing to what you did wrong. Asking for what you need.
2. Stop complaining.
If you’re taking the reigns that means you have a choice in how you interact. If something is bothering you, don’t go on and on about it, figure out what needs to happen and do it so it doesn’t get in the way of you being you.
3. Stop making excuses.
No longer is it about what you can’t our couldn’t do and why, no more well, I got stuck in traffic, I was out late last night, I didn’t have time … You no longer have to defend yourself or try to prove a point, because you’re taking responsibility for the good and the bad, which means you’re allowing yourself to be as you are. You know that one mistake doesn’t make you a horrible person. Instead of making an excuse now it’s “you’re right, I’m late.” “Yes, I did make a mistake.” It’s empowering to own up to your actions, both good and bad.
4. Stop being upset with yourself.
You won’t be able to be who you are if you’re constantly pissed off at who you are. Try observing who you are without evaluation and criticism – what if there wasn’t anything wrong with you?
An easy way to know if you’re not taking responsibility for being who you are in the world is if you’re suffering. Because you suffer when you fight against what is.
It’s your responsibility to take away this suffering and step into who you are.
Applying the four pieces mentioned above will help you on your way to being your authentic self and in so doing you’ll start living a life of ease.
Cynthia Kane, Certified meditation & mindfulness instructor – www.cynthiakane.com
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