Every coach, podcaster, and author seems to tell us we must be authentic.
Let's remove authenticity as a buzzword and consider what it means to be authentic.
In one of my favorite books, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown tells us that choosing authenticity means:
Developing the tenacity to be yourself - cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable
Exercising compassion for others and yourself; we are all made of highs and lows - we must choose to be kind to ourselves regardless of our state.
Nurturing the connection and sense of belonging can only happen when we believe we are enough.
How do you practice authenticity in a world telling you who you should be?
A few fundamental techniques, let's call them the ABCs
Excavate by looking within to recognize the barriers (self-imposed or external) that limit or prevent authenticity. Identify ways to remove or lessen them.
Take what you learned and find opportunities to show up as the full expression of yourself. Where do you feel connection and belonging? Start there.
Choose your path
You are responsible for your thoughts, emotions, actions, behavior, and choices - accept them. Work to understand your thoughts. Your thoughts aren't facts and don't need to dictate your behavior. Listen to the thought, feel the emotion, and then let your action be based on who you are and want to be.
Being authentic means knowing yourself, accepting who you are, and showing up unapologetically.
The ABCs are a great reminder of the fundamentals needed to practice authenticity, but how do we create the space to know ourselves genuinely?
How do we strip off all of the masks, the titles, the roles, and the expectations of others to connect with who we are deep inside ourselves?
I recommend that you start with journaling, and if that's not your jam, then find a quiet spot to ask yourself the following prompts and then listen.
You might be thinking, why is she asking me to break out the journal; I'm just here for pointers on authenticity. According to research, journaling can help reduce stress, improve mood, and create a deeper path to self-discovery.
When do you feel most like yourself?
When do you feel that you cannot be real? What would you like to have more/less of?
What would you want to do more/less of?
What are your core values? Do you stay in your value system?
What are your sticky floors? Or limiting thoughts that are holding you back?
What external influences are you allowing to shape your self-perception?
Why this matters: our thoughts can shape our emotions, our emotions shape our behaviors, and our behaviors shape our actions.
If we think we are too lazy to lose weight, and we may feel disappointed in ourselves, then since we already think we are lazy and feel disappointed, we go ahead and have the box of cookies – and then our actions tend to mirror the thought.
But thoughts are not facts; our environment, external influences, and self-talk influence them.
To be authentic, you must reflect on your belief system and what you allow in your life, which may be holding you back from being authentic.
In your relationships (partner, parent, children, colleagues), ask yourself:
Is this relationship meaningful and valuable to you?
Can you truly be yourself in the relationship?
Do you feel valued in the relationship?
Day 4: Call to Action
You have worked through the prompts and considered when you feel most like yourself and when you don't, as well as the influences and relationships in your life - now it's time to take that knowledge and turn it into action.
When we explore who we are, when we feel our best, and the places where we feel like we are held back or wearing a mask, we begin to pinpoint places and people in our life where we cannot be our whole selves.
Sometimes, we feel like we cannot be our authentic selves because we have been trying to meet other people's expectations, or we are scared of what people will think when we show up fully, and sometimes it's stories we told ourselves about not belonging. These places and relationships will become a breeding ground for resentment and frustration if unaddressed.
So, I am challenging you with this call to action. Practice authenticity by stepping into your brave - what crucial conversation must you have this month?
This conversation should address an area where you see that you are not happy, wearing masks, and without personal boundaries...
In this conversation, address a boundary that needs to be set, address how a situation is making you feel, ask for help or share a truth that you have been holding in to hold the peace.
Ask yourself, what situation is keeping you from authenticity? What do you need to say? Who do you need to say it to?
You are one step closer to living a life you love.
You've got this!