“Authenticity is when you say and do the things you actually believe.”
We are constantly being bombarded by the media, telling us who we should be, who we should strive to be like or what we should want out of life. We live in a global society that rates fame and superficiality as most desirable prizes. Where our bank balance is a direct measurement of our self-worth and much less importance is placed on how we actually live our lives.
What does Authenticity mean and why is it so important?
In a nutshell, authenticity means acting in a way that is truly you; that shows your true self and crucially how you feel. As opposed to showing another facet of yourself. It’s all about expressing yourself genuinely.
By being inauthentic you are, in effect, saying to yourself that the real, whole you is not good enough. That it’s not OK to be the real you. And over time this continuous “acting” can have a detrimental effect on us and our ability to be our authentic selves.
But how do we end up at this inauthentic version of ourselves?
Firstly, let’s not knock the inauthentic version of ourselves or as psychologists would call it the “Adaptive Self”. As the name suggests, this version of ourselves was created at a young age and shaped by outside influences such as our peers, parents, teachers, religion etc. in order to “get along” and fit into society, and generally adapt to the world around us.
Conversely, it’s these very layers of beliefs, emotions and thoughts our authentic self is buried under, that can actually end up running the You Show. So how can you redress the balance between your “Adaptive Self” and your authentic self?
What do you truly believe?
Start with pad and paper (don’t use tech for this exercise) and list the beliefs you have about yourself. Using my spidie senses I should imagine they will go something along the lines of “I’m thick.” “I never have any luck in love.” “I’m ugly.” “I’m too fat to find love.” Just watch your inner critic goes to town when given an opportunity like this!
Once you have listed some of your beliefs examine each one carefully, and unpick how you acquired it. Where did it come from? Did someone say it to you once and like a piece of Velcro it stuck? Who was that person that gave it to you? Why do you carry on believing it? AND most importantly does that belief represent the “authentic you” right here, right now, today?
Now create positive alternatives to those negative beliefs you’ve listed, such as “I am more than enough,” or “I am loveable and desirable,” or “I am perfect just as I am,”; you get the gist. Now repeat these as positive affirmations to yourself.
MY TOP TIP: When it comes to affirmations, record them onto the voice notes on your smart phone and listening to them back with headphones when you’re in a relaxed state; i.e., when you’re drifting off to sleep at night. By doing it this way these affirmations will seep into your subconscious and stick! The best part of all when you’re using this method is that it doesn’t seem like a chore to do.
The pace of life we live – pandemic or no pandemic – is mind blowing. We are busy making snap decisions and even snappier statements all due to the fact that – “there’s just no enough hours in the day.” But a key to living authentically is slowing down. Think about the decisions you’re making and whether they’re in line with your authentic self. If the words you’re using don’t feel right to your authentic self, then stop and don’t say them. I’m not talking about procrastinating; I’m talking about being more mindful of what you’re saying and how those words might adversely affect others, especially if they don’t come from a place of authenticity. If needs be, reformat what you were going to say OR better yet, don’t say them until you feel they are the right words for the situation.
Learn to say ‘no’
This is going to be hard if you’re a people pleaser but try and learn to say no to people. Simply measure what you’re being asked against your values and answer authentically. You don’t have to be rude, but if someone asks something of you that doesn’t sit right, instead of saying yes as you might have done previously, just say no. You will have to deal with their instant shock of you not people pleasing, but they’ll understand, and you’ll get used to saying it too.
Speak your truth
I don’t know about you but this is a sentence that is quite disposable, and more often than not used in any one of a number of reality TV shows, where the protagonist for the episode starts talking “their truth” all over the shop. However, far from it being the throwaway sentence from reality TV, in speaking your truth you are declaring to others that you can be trusted; but more importantly you trust others enough to show your vulnerable side. In doing this people will tend to act much more positively towards you, because they spot this vulnerability.
Listen to your intuition or inner guide
Your intuition is always the voice within that is nudging you in the right direction. However, because of the layers of inauthenticity mentioned previously, we have, over time, forgotten to take notice of it. Your inner compass is always steering your ‘ship’ in the right direction, but due to the layers of background noise this has been dumbed down to nothing more than a whisper.
MY TOP TIP: Sit somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed and think of a question that you want clarity on. Then ask that question and see what pointers or nudges you receive to guide you. It might be a feeling, emanating from the Solar Plexus chakra region – in the abdomen around the belly button area – that you hadn’t noticed before when you’d previously pondered the question. Alternatively, if you prefer, ask that question before you go to sleep at night and see what comes through in your dreams, to guide you. Make sure you have something you can document this on when you wake up so you don’t forget it!
The key to all of this is don’t rush in and suddenly start being authentic all over the place, but small changes every day make for a big change over all, towards your goal of living a more authentic life. Open yourself up to living authentically, and see how your life changes.