Can you honestly say you are living an authentic life? How do you know you are living in tune with your true authentic self? Are you putting on a mask or trying to copy somebody else? How do you even know who your authentic self is?
What Does Living an Authentic Life Mean?
How often when you go to a party or meet someone new, do you introduce yourself by telling them what you do in your life?
When we meet new people we almost always give them a frame of reference for our existence by telling them our roles: I am a doctor, I am a mother, I am a business owner, I’m a husband, I am a teacher.
We all have these labels in our lives that are not necessarily WHO we are, but rather, what our functions are.
I like to look at life like this:
Your life is like a shelf, and on every shelf, you have different kinds of hats. Depending on what you need to accomplish that day, who you will be meeting, or where you will be going, you will choose to put on different hats. Now the hat doesn’t make you who you are, it is just a way of describing your role in the world. These various hats are how we express ourselves in the world.
It is important to distinguish that your role, or your function in your life or world, is not the same as WHO you are.
Listening to Your Authentic Self
How many times have you been at a party, a meeting, or some other public function and someone has come up to you, and you could just tell that they were being fake.
You could sense that they weren’t being genuine. It doesn’t matter what they were saying to you, whether it was “Hey, how are you doing?” or whatever, you could just tell that they were being inauthentic.
And how many times have you been at a seminar, or seen someone on television or on a stage, and you have gotten this icky feeling in your gut because you could tell that the person wasn’t being real.
On the other hand, you can probably think of a time when you were in a situation, and you were very uncomfortable with a question that you were being asked. Maybe you felt judgement, or maybe you felt like you couldn’t really be your true self, so you didn’t answer it truthfully. You weren’t intentionally trying to be deceitful to the other person, but because you felt judged, you decided to hide your true genuine self.
It is easy to feel judged all the time because we are usually the worst culprits! We tend to judge ourselves much harsher than other people do.
So instead of expressing who we really are, and being authentic, we start to define ourselves with our jobs or our functions or with our role. It is easy to do, and it feels safe. But who we are, and our roles, functions, and positions in life are two entirely separate things!
That doesn’t mean your role or job isn’t important or doesn’t contribute to your conception of self, but who you are isn’t about the labels, it’s about you as a person. What makes you uniquely you are your skills, your talents, your wisdom, rather than your position in life.
Does Living an Authentic Life Matter?
Yes, without a doubt it matters if you are living an authentic life, but why does it matter?
Living an authentic life directly affects our well-being and wellness.
This is because being authentic is all about being genuine. That means being genuine in everything we do, in every aspect of our lives. That includes being genuine in our relationships with other people and in our relationships with ourselves. These relationships affect how we feel about ourselves and our lives. They affect how we do business. They affect our health. They affect the people in our lives.
When we can be our authentic self, we have a deeper sense of freedom and fulfilment. Decision-making becomes easier because we know who we are, and it is easier to check-in with ourselves and align ourselves with our truth.
3 Easy Steps to Being More Authentic
If you have been hiding behind a mask for a long time, or trying really hard to fit in or be somebody else, trying to get in touch with your authentic self can be a bit overwhelming.
Here are some simple steps to help you get in touch with your authentic self:
- Assess your values
Sit down and make a list of what you value. What do you value in yourself? What do you value in other people?
- List activities you love
What activities do you love to do? What activities make you feel alive and make you feel like yourself? Be sure that these are what YOU love to do, not what somebody else thinks you should do, not things you SHOULD like to do, nor things that are expected of you.
- Set goals
Now that you have a list of what you value, and things you like to do, make a plan to do some of these activities. Then make a list of some different things that you would like to achieve that incorporate both what you like to do and your values.
Make sure your goals here are not things you are being forced to do, or the commitments that you already have in your life.
By following through with these three steps, you will begin to see how knowing what you want and knowing what you value can help you discover who you are, separate from the roles you have in your life.
When you are able to pursue goals that are based on your authentic self and let the world see who you really are, you will become happier and more in-tune with yourself. You will also start to see a change in your life and a change in your perspective.
Side-Effects of Being Authentic
WARNING: You will be able to feel it in your gut when you aren’t acting as your most authentic because you aren’t in alignment with your values. It’s important in these cases not to shame yourself for coming out of alignment, but rather to notice it, question it, and course correct along the way, so you can live your most authentic life.
Now this isn’t always easy or straight forward, so if you need some help with this, don’t be shy and send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk about how to assess your values, find activities that you like to do and set some goals that will help you bring out your authentic self.
I also invite you to write me in the comments and use this space to tell me who you REALLY are.