It’s easy to forget how to be authentic when we play many different roles throughout the day. We’re parents, children, friends, employees, teachers, lovers, members of society…
But how do we stay true to ourselves when life gets messy, overwhelming or stressful?
By taking small steps and doing little things that make us feel good. No, scratch that. That makes us feel great. Excellent. Ecstatic. Alive. Grateful for who we are and what we have. But also calm, meditative, reflective.
I made a short (but hopefully sweet) list of 9 simple things that have helped me live more authentically and be closer to my genuine self.
1. Enjoy the Little Things (Also Known as ‘Live in the Now’)
I know – this is a cliché, but I just can’t deny this simple truth. In all honesty, it can take some practice to train your mind to stop blabbering and start noticing the little things. But once it does, you will…
Rejoice in the first rays of the sunshine in a hazy morning. Feel their warmth on your skin. Smell that first cup of coffee and exhale with a sigh of blissful pleasure as you take that first sip.
Hug your pet. Kiss your loved one. Have fresh flowers on your table. Listen to the ocean. Watch the sunset. Let the wind blow through your hair in the spring. Walk on crispy leaves in the fall. Make snow angels in the winter.
You know, the little things.
Every day, I make conscious efforts to appreciate and remember the special moments and people in my life.
2. Don’t Water Yourself Down for Other People’s Approval.
We all want to be accepted, loved and appreciated. So we often try to tone down who we really are to be likable out of fear of being judged.
Heck, I’m even petrified to be writing this post.
You see, throughout my childhood and teenage years, I got the message that who I was isn’t acceptable. I didn’t belong anywhere. I didn’t fit into a mold. This stuck with me for years to come, rocked my self-esteem and made me question my authenticity.
But as I matured, I did some serious inner work and made a strong decision to be unapologetically myself. To speak up and share my opinions and emotions right off the bat. And to say NO to people, things, and situations that weren’t good for me.
I’m a highly sensitive introvert, crazy cat lady, passionate business owner, raw, honest and intense writer, and extremely curious. I’m also overly excited about things (just ask anyone who knows me how I feel about calla lilies, kittens, vintage tea sets and Italy). I’m also a good listener and a loyal friend, but I won’t take s**t from anyone anymore.
And I’m loving it. Every single bit of it.
And you should love YOU, too. With all your quirkiness, talents, words, desires, dreams, body types, good days, bad days, mistakes, failures and life experiences. These things make life authentic.
You won’t fit in a box, but why would you need one?
There’s nothing more beautiful and liberating than to be purely you.
3. Balance Your Emotions and Your Reasoning
One of the first (and best) lessons I learned in my early 20s is that children respond to situations with their emotions. Adults use their reasoning. But the key to a happy, balanced, authentic life lies in the balance between the two.
So whenever you’re in an intense, emotional or stressful situation and want to react with your feelings, stop and ask yourself: am I reacting as a child or as an adult? Your answer will show you how to handle things further.
This simple exercise helps me manage my emotions and face every situation in a calm, composed manner. And it’s effective because it switches your mind from overly-excited to being in control.
4. Don’t Judge or Punish Yourself for Your Mistakes
Very often we think it’s totally ok to judge ourselves for a mistake we’ve made either now or in the past. But what’s the use?
Instead of beating yourself up, see if you can learn something from your failures.
So what helps is writing down what each of your mistakes is trying to teach you and the ways you can avoid repeating it in the future.
But please, don’t judge yourself. You did the best you could do.
5. Pay Good Attention to What Your Body and Mind are Telling You
Signs of physical discomfort are more tangible than psychological. When a certain food makes you ill, you stop eating it. But when a thought keeps nagging you and making you feel horrible, you accept it as truth and give it energy.
Pay attention to your thought process. Some of the greatest breakthroughs I’ve had have come from observing my own thoughts, how they relate, how far they go and their end result.
Incessant mind chatter is often a sign of bubbling emotions. Release them, set them free and clear your mind.
Yoga and meditation are two wonderful ways to do that.
6. Go for Your Dreams With All the Strength You Have
One of the main reasons I’ve been a long-time follower of Candace is her authenticity. She was my inspiration for this article because I’ve always admired how she handled difficult life situations with grace, courage, and strength.
To me, authenticity is pushing through, no matter what.
Going after your dreams, no matter how silly or big or unattainable they seem.
Having your own business or a job where you have a genuine connection with the people who you work with. Offering so much value that you get threefold in return.
And loving what you do with all your heart.
Living authentically is what prompted me to quit my 9-5 job as a staff writer and pursue my freelancing dream.
And I couldn’t be happier.
7. Celebrate your Victories, No Matter How Big or Small
If you’re like me, celebrating ANYTHING less than what you hoped for can sometimes be impossible. (Because being a raging, incurable perfectionist is oh, so much fun!)
So, I’d rather not even start in the first place. I know it’ll be good enough, but not quite there yet. And my mind will go crazy looking for the very instance I could’ve done better, not realizing the moment has passed.
And I’m left with a choice – I can either sit there and cry over what’s done “imperfectly” or celebrate it just the way it is.
Good enough is perfect.
8. Take the Time to Get to Know Yourself
Getting to know yourself is a wonderful, rewarding and challenging journey.
But it’s also overwhelming and takes patience.
So where do you start?
I’d suggest grabbing a good old pen and paper.
On separate pages, write down the following:
· Your virtues, habits, things that are unique to you
· What makes you truly happy (people, situations, your career, animals…)
· What is important to you
· What you will and won’t tolerate (a.k.a. boundaries)
· Whether you seek validation from the outside world (and if so, why)
· What things you’d like to improve in yourself
· What you can and can’t give up
· How your perfect day looks like
Don’t be scared to dig deep. One of the best ways to get to the bottom of any question is to keep asking yourself why until you’ve gotten your answer.
For example, if your question is: “Why can’t I speak my mind?” You may answer with: “Because I’m scared of being judged.” Then, you continue: “Why am I scared of being judged?” “-Because I feel like I don’t have anything important to say.” “-Why do I feel like that?” And so on.
Keep going until the answer feels just right. That’s when you reach authenticity.
9. Open Your Mind to New Things
Confession time: I do not handle big life changes well. Like, at all.
I become agitated, anxious, super-stressed and just on edge the entire time. And until everything settles in nicely, I’m a complete and utter mess.
I’m aware that this stems from my need to control the outcome of every life situation. In reality, I know I can’t. But I really, really want to.
Any fellow recovering control freaks out there? Hi! (*waves frantically*)
But I’ve learned that now, with every new wave of changes, I just breathe deeply, meditate, let my mind wander and let go of my fears.
But most importantly, I open my mind to whatever comes my way and try to make peace with it.
Sometimes, you’ll find your true self with life experience and maturity. Other times, it may be hidden under anxiety and depression, feelings of inadequacy, negative self-talk, self-doubt and fear. And finding it may take some therapy.
But the authentic self has no high expectations of themselves or others and takes life lightly.
Instead of constantly doing, running, working, thinking – it just is.
Innocent and vulnerable, but also strong and independent.
For me, authenticity equals freedom.
Frosina is a freelance blogger for hire specializing in lifestyle, health and wellness topics. When she’s not busy writing about yoga, healthy living and mindfulness, you can find her learning all about digital marketing and dreaming of Italy. You can learn more about Frosina here, on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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