“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” – Oscar Wilde
Why did I say that? That’s not what I believe.
Why did I go along with that? That’s not what I want.
Why did I do that? That’s not who I am.
Is there any human past puberty who hasn’t experienced the sigh of the soul or the gut punch that is the consequence of being inauthentic? When you think about it, every moment of inauthenticity reinforces a self-talk that says, “You are not okay as you really are.” When we hide our true self from others, the long-term impact can be a sense of loneliness, shame, and low self-esteem. And yet, we act in inauthentic ways because we may:
- feel compelled to please others, so that we are liked
- seek the approval of others so that we are accepted
- go along to get along and avoid conflict
- feel the need to live up to some external standard to feel better about ourselves
Given the explosion of social media and FOMO – the fear of missing out – we may have even lost touch with who we are as we feel pressured to post ad nauseum about the awesomeness that is our life. Studies show that people who are authentic are happier and have higher self-esteem. To me, that’s another way of saying that they are at peace with themselves. And that makes sense because authentic people live in a way that is both true and responsible to themselves and others. They experience joy and meaning because they:
- speak their opinions honestly, and in a healthy way
- make decisions that align with their values and beliefs
- pursue their passions
- listen to their inner voice to guide them
- allow themselves to be vulnerable and open-hearted
- set boundaries and walk away from toxic situations
What are you waiting for? Here are a few key things you can do to live more authentically*:
Place a priority on the people and activities that matter most to you. Walk away from toxic people and situations that don’t serve you.
Notice when you are feeling self-conscious about how you look or how you are coming across. Check in with your real self and the values you want to live by.
Seek to spend more time with the people in your life who live authentically, are true to who they are, and support your journey.
Be mindful of your words. Be confident when expressing what you need. In conversation, maintain eye contact, listen to others, and don’t shy away from saying ‘No’ when doing so supports your truth and your priorities.
Practice good self-care. Plan your day in a way that focuses on your priorities, and make sure to include time for the healthy activities that keep you going: exercise, meditation, sleep.
Give yourself a break. Everyone needs to get away from their routine from time to time. Whether that’s planning a date with yourself, going away for a weekend, or simply trying something totally new, you will feel refreshed and renewed.
Get serious about understanding what drives you so that you can identify dreams and goals that support your authentic self. For example, consider your purpose, values, and interests, as well as external things like money, recognition, and lifestyle.
Here’s the thing about being authentic: not only will you like and respect yourself more, your connections with the people in your life will be genuine and therefore, more satisfying.
*Based on the work of Lyn Christian, SoulSalt Inc.