Preparing for the Holidays
As the holidays are approaching, we will be spending more time with loved ones, which can be challenging. Many of my clients do not feel free to be their true selves in their old family systems. They feel like they have to pretend and hide what they believe to fit in, or for various other reasons. This season what would happen if you did something different? Here are some thoughts on being your authentic self.
Authenticity: Showing Up as You Are
Finding and embracing your authentic self can truly help you live the life of your dreams. You will find yourself with deeper friendships, more meaningful romantic relationships, and a life that brings you purpose and joy.
However, living in a world where documenting your everyday life is the norm can cause many people to struggle with finding and embracing their authentic selves. While the introduction of social media has undoubtedly been great for keeping in contact with loved ones, learning more about happenings around the world, and staying connected in general, it has certainly not been great for many people’s authenticity.
Being authentic to yourself can be difficult in today’s society, but it does have its perks. Being authentically you means the words you speak, the things you do, the causes you support, and the people you surround yourself with aligns with the person you truly are on the inside. We are all so vastly unique that it can be scary to share the pieces of yourself that seem different from the “norm.” For example, maybe you like to dress in clothing that doesn’t fit the trends of today. Or you support a cause that is different from your loved ones. Perhaps you are passionate about hobbies that your peers have never even heard of. Or choose to date someone very different than your social group. These are all the little pieces of the puzzle that is you. Embracing each one of these pieces will not only benefit your mental health but your social wellbeing, as well!
The Importance of Authenticity The person you truly are is an amazing and worthwhile person to be. Being authentically you will allow you to feel free from the pressures of maintaining a persona that may not fit your true identity. Your relationships will flourish when you can show your entire self. Your pursuits will be full of passion and purpose. You will be free to say, do, and be everything you wish. Allowing the social pressures and norms surrounding you to dictate your life might help you avoid conflict or fit in, but it also may leave you feeling empty, lonely, and as though no one truly understands you.
Why We Struggle with Authenticity
While social media certainly makes authenticity hard, inauthenticity was around long before it was a part of our daily lives. Pressure to say certain things, act in a certain manner and be a certain person has been around for centuries. For some of us, it has been necessary to survive. And, in some spaces, it still is necessary due to our social environment. The key is that you are aware and being authentic to yourself in the ways you can.
Everyone who plays a significant role in our lives has shaped us to fit their expectations since birth. Many of our morals, values, passions, and beliefs have been molded by someone in our life. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Learning about morals and values from others helps us work as a functioning society.
Sometimes, though, people’s expectations in our life can prevent us from being the person we truly are. When every decision feels as though it needs to be approved by someone else, you may need to take a moment to ask yourself who you are and what it is that you genuinely want.
Tips to Start Being Authentically You
Perhaps you have lost yourself trying to please everyone else. Maybe you have stopped being yourself to be accepted more easily. Either way, you can find and embrace your authentic self once again. Here are some tips to get you started.
Find Your Courage
Stripping yourself of that mask after so many years can be terrifying. Whether you are deep diving in some soul searching or preparing to show the world the authentic you, there will be fear, difficulties, and uncertainty. Work to build the courage you need to do this hard work. Start with one small step, which may even be just the desire to do so.
Be Kind to Yourself
After years of shoving your true self deeper and deeper into your core, you must show yourself love and compassion as you begin to embrace the authentic you. As you build your courage, you will need to show yourself patience. As you face conflict and change, you will need to believe in yourself. Through every step of this process, you will need to show yourself love, kindness, and compassion. This will bring you the strength and courage you need to embrace your authenticity. Notice the voices that are not loving, kind and compassionate within you. Question whose voices those are and how you would like them to speak differently. Try on words toward yourself that you always wished someone would speak to you. Patience and awareness can help shift this inner dialogue. The You are Magnificent Exercise in The Curious Voyage: A Rule-Breaking Guidebook to Authenticity can also help shift those voices.
Seek Answers Within Yourself First
Constantly asking for opinions and the approval of others will do nothing more than hinder your authenticity. Silence the noise and ask yourself what it is that you want to do. Have you been contemplating a career move? Search in your own heart and mind for the answer. Are you having doubts about a relationship? Seek answers from yourself first.
This doesn’t mean that you can never ask others for advice or an opinion. Hearing other people’s perspectives can be helpful when making a huge life decision. However, your opinion is the most important one in your decision-making. So make sure that you are seeking the opinions and answers within yourself, too. Mindfulness meditations can help bring you to a quieter inner space to listen.
Be Open and Honest
It can be easy to keep a wall up between yourself and the people around you in a world full of expectations and pressures to be a certain way. However, opening up to people you trust can help you begin to embrace the person you truly are. Put in the work to stop hiding behind lies and a persona that does not bring you joy or fulfillment. Allow yourself to be openly and honestly you. Choose one small thing to start as you develop your courage and strength to free yourself of old expectations and pressures.
Sometimes, we can get in the habit of mindlessly making decisions that will please others or make us look good. Rather than living your life on a people-pleasing autopilot, hit the pause button and take the time to seek what it is that you genuinely want. As you start to identify what is people-pleasing and what is genuine, your actions can shift. Someone once gave me the saying, “Am I doing this for fun and for free?” If not, why am I choosing to do that now? Once aware, we are more free to be more authentic in our actions.
Figure Out Your Values and Morals
Just because you were taught certain values and morals from the people in your life does not mean that they will always fit the values and morals of your authentic self. Many factors will make your values and morals different from everyone else’s, such as your age or gender. Rather than allowing others to pressure you into their own beliefs, take the time to ask yourself what it is that you believe.
Pursue the Things That Bring Your Life Meaning
Pursue the things that light your soul on fire. Seek your purpose and chase it down. Set goals that will make all your dreams come true. As you stop allowing others to dictate how you live your life, you will find yourself learning more about the things that bring your life meaning. Embrace them. Give where you feel inspired.
Being authentically you is a beautiful and courageous path that will lead you to live your most fulfilled and happy life. If you would like to explore the topic of authenticity deeper, check out my book, The Curious Voyage: A Rule-Breaking Guidebook to Authenticity.