Being your authentic self means showing up in the world as the person that you really are. Put another way, authenticity is when who you are on the outside – your beliefs, your thoughts, and your truth- is demonstrated by the actions you take and how you present yourself to the world. To see authenticity in action is a wonderful thing, because what you get to see is the unique qualities of the person. You get to see the light that shines within. Who you truly are has little to do with the titles ascribed to the end of your name, your social status, or any specific life role that you may play. Your authentic identity is your uniqueness. It is your true self. It is who you are at the core of your being. Here’s an example of what I mean. Say a physician meets the family members of his patient outside of the normal working environment. If the physician is operating within the current of his authentic self then his professional title has minimal relevance during the meeting. So instead of the family meeting “Doctor So and So” they are greeted by the whole person and the relationship becomes more meaningful. Becoming more authentic requires you to ask questions like; Who am I? What am I passionate about? What things do I do out of obligation or because what other people might think about me? You must figure out which parts of yourself belong to you, and which parts belong to the expectations of others. It also requires you to become more accepting and less judgmental of yourself. Here are some tips to get you moving towards being a more authentic you.
Know your Motivation
It is very easy to lose yourself when you have reached a marked level of success. In many cases it is in the developmental stages, of becoming whatever it is you wish to become that can get you sidetracked. This is especially true when your goal is a definitive destination. What happens is that you end up investing so much energy into becoming the doctor or the lawyer that you forget about the internal driving force that led you down the path in the first place. It is at this point that you need to examine your initial motivation. Was it the helplessness you felt as a child watching your mother die of cancer that led you to medical school? As a teen-ager, did the strong hold of the legal system in you neighborhood leave you wanting to make a difference? What were the emotional experiences and/or societal pressures, which set you on your chosen path? Once you are aware of the motivating factors, then its time to make some decisions. Maybe you decide that you would like to take the knowledge you gained in law school and use it in a different manner. Perhaps you realize that becoming a doctor was not to save your mother and other cancer patients but rather to save the little child who felt abandoned and loss. Know that it is okay to change your mind. It is okay to choose a different career as long as you show up clear about your intentions and unapologetically true to your own self.
Let it Go
Making good now, to cover up perceived flaws from the past, will not only rob you of the ability to be your authentic self, but it is a direct route to unhappiness. Authenticity and joy cannot exist when your definition of who you are is based on how little money your family had when you were a child, your years of drug abuse, or any perceived errors that you may have had about your circumstances, or decisions. All past experiences, whether you view them as negative or positive, mistakes or triumphs, represent a fraction of who you are. Rather than harbor over the past, own it and let it go. When you own your past, and let go of it, you are humbled by all of your experiences while at the same time, open for all that is happening in your life at the present time.
Moving towards creating a more authentic life may seem difficult at first. It could bring about feelings of vulnerability as you become more transparent, and openly expressive of your true self. Old feelings of not being liked, or accepted by others may also arise. Any challenges that you go through on your road to finding yourself are well worth it. On this journey to self- discovery, you will become empowered, and feel the liberating freedom that comes from being exactly who you are. When your family, friends, and colleagues extend their acceptance to you, and likeness for you, then you will be certain that the love, and acceptance shown towards you is genuine, and actually intended for you because there will no longer be the divide between the real you and the other you. As a result, your relationships will become more rewarding and more meaningful.
© 2012, Martha Dawson. All rights reserved.