How does one achieve happiness? It’s an age-old question and one that every human searches for an answer to. If we’re going to spend our entire lives on this spinning rock, we might as well find a way to enjoy it, right?
Many people spend their lives living out the will of others – their spouse, their parents, their kids, their friends, coworkers, and bosses. Most aren’t coached to cut their own paths in life, but I believe the key to being joyful lies in taking really great care of yourself and being fully self-expressed. Striving to live an authentic life is the ultimate form of self-care and self-expression.
What does it really mean to be authentic?
The word “authenticity,” especially in the business community, is almost overused. Every business coach will tell you, “just be authentic!”, but it’s easier said than done.
Many people don’t truly know what it means to be authentic, especially if you don’t have a business coach echoing this in your ear every week or a higher-thinking mastermind or business networking group that you are a part of.
To me, authentic living means knowing and loving yourself completely, the good and the bad, and honoring yourself by bravely taking action that aligns with your own ideas, beliefs, and desires.
Let’s take a closer look at what it means to be authentic.
Authentic living breaks down to five parts:
- Discovering who you are at your core
- Letting go of any judgments
- Powerfully choosing to live life on your own terms
- Being fully self-expressed
- Following Your Intuition
Discover who you are at your core
Finding your true self is the toughest inner work you will ever do. That’s because we are all taught from a very young age who we “should” be. We learn good vs. bad, right vs. wrong. These dualities can cause anxiety and feelings of guilt or shame. I don’t believe feelings of guilt or shame ever come from our higher selves (meaning the best version of ourselves) or from our intuition. Rather, they come from our insecurities and the ideas about right and wrong that we have adopted from others.
In order to shed the conditioning that the world (your family, teachers, friends, significant others) have put you through, you’ll need to open your mind to these 3 truths:
- Right/Wrong and Good/Bad are completely subjective
- Something can be both good and bad at the same time.
- You can make poor decisions and still be a good person
Imagine there is no right or wrong, good or bad. You are who you are, and whatever that is, it’s okay. It’s more than okay – it’s beautiful!
You can find much of who you naturally are by looking at who you were as a kid. Perhaps you were an expressive child – loud, bossy, and loved to sing! Then, someone made you feel ashamed for those qualities and you no longer speak up, sing, or take the lead. As an adult who can make her own decisions, it’s time to tap into that inner child and bring out those amazing qualities again!
Discovering who you really are will likely mean admitting some hard truths to yourself. This isn’t about pleasantries and platitudes. This is deep work. This is shadow work; looking at the darker, less socially-accepted parts of yourself and learning to accept them as well.
I highly recommend that you get yourself a journal and go to town writing everything you know about yourself. Write about the things you like, the things you don’t, the things you wish were true, what feels good, what doesn’t… and just don’t stop writing, asking yourself questions, and exploring the depths of your mind.
Let go of any judgments
When you were a child, you soaked up lots of opinions that were not yours, as we all do, and they slowly shaped who you would become as an adult. You can now choose to let those opinions go! (In case you were looking for permission.) You’re an adult and you get to make your own decisions about what you allow in your mind, body, and life and what you don’t.
In order to thrive in life and live authentically, you’ll need to not only let go of other opinions but learn to love yourself for who you are. That might sound like a tall order or some. Society does not teach us to be kind to ourselves. Can you embrace everything about yourself – good, bad, or indifferent? Learning to love yourself takes time and involves having a lot of self-compassion.
To start, I recommend getting rid of the word “should” from your vocabulary. No more, “I should do this” or “I should do that.” The word “should” only brings up feelings of guilt which is a hindrance when you are trying to build self-love and self-compassion.
Begin to notice feelings of guilt or shame when they come up and tell yourself, “I am perfect just the way I am.”
Countering negative thoughts with positive ones takes some practice, but it will become more natural over time, just like developing any other habit. Celebrate yourself each time you catch yourself being kind to yourself!
Choose to live life on your own terms
Once you know who you are, what you like, and what you want – it’s time to take action! Living a life that is in alignment with your values in every possible way is going to take work. You’ll need to make changes in your life and your habits. You’ll have to advocate for yourself because no one can make your dream life happen for you. It’s up to YOU.
We can’t control everything in life, but without taking some responsibility, things won’t just fall into place the way we want them to either. We need to get into ALIGNMENT with our dreams and goals by adjusting our thoughts and actions.
Create a vision in your mind of what you want. Find ways to make that vision real in your life – even if it’s just in small, more symbolic ways, like writing yourself a check for the money you need or creating a vision board with magazine clippings.
You create your reality by the things you think, say, and do, so it’s time to step into the new you. Act as if you are already her. Write down your plan and take one small step towards your dream life every day. You can even keep a record of your progress so that you won’t get discouraged. Every small step is progress and you should be proud of yourself for it.
Become Fully Self-Expressed
Once you know and feel confident in who you are, and your dream life is starting to take shape, you may feel called to open up and share. Expressing your ideas and beliefs publicly can be extremely fulfilling, especially if you feel called to share an important message with the world, help people, or make an impact.
I believe we are all capable of making amazing art, sharing inspiring ideas, or being influential in other positive ways, we just have to tap into our voice and begin to use it. Share your thoughts. Share your feelings. Share what you’ve learned. Share who you are, what you care about, and what you’re aiming for. Share, share, share because you matter. Your story matters. You have a purpose here on earth. Each and every person does.
If you feel you were made for more, don’t shy away from living a big, bold life. Take risks and share your experiences. I believe inspiration is huge and should be passed on. Successes are meant to be celebrated and there are many good and wonderful people in the world who would love to celebrate you and your accomplishments!
You are not limited to the friends and family you’ve been around your whole life. Maybe they haven’t been supportive. Find your tribe! Start doing and talking about what you love and you’ll attract them. This is the most rewarding part of the whole journey to living your most authentic life: finding people to share it with!
Authentic Living Means Listening to Your Intuition
Let’s talk about intuition and the important role it plays in living your best, most authentic life. Your intuition is that small voice inside your head or feelings that arise out of the blue. This “gut feeling” or small voice will be your guide throughout this process and as you embrace authentic living. When you learn to listen to your intuition, it will tell you that it’s time to rediscover who you are. It will tell you when it’s time to let go of a limiting belief. It will tell you when you are doing something that is out of alignment with your true self. It will tell you when it’s time to put your message out into the world.
To tune into your intuition more, practice slowing down and just being with yourself at least once a day. All you need is 5 or 10 minutes to take a walk, write in a journal, or meditate. Whatever method you choose, the goal is to quiet your mind and the world around you, so that you can learn to tap into your inner knowing and intuition. During this practice, you can ask yourself questions like, “How am I feeling?” “What do I need to do for myself today?” “Who has been helping me out lately?” “What’s making me feel this way?” In this way, you are nurturing your relationship with yourself and strengthening your intuition so that it can be a guide, a gut feeling, that you can trust. The more you practice listening to intuition the easier it will become and the more you’ll know how to trust yourself. And trusting yourself is essential to authentic living!
These five steps to living authentically as listed above are not a one-and-done.
Authentic living is a way of thinking and being that you’ll need to adopt and continually apply in your life. We are always picking up new thoughts, ideas, and opinions which need to be reevaluated from time to time. Repeat these steps often.
Check in with yourself and ask questions, like “Is this in alignment with who I am and what I want for my life?” Consider making a list of core values or a mission statement that can guide you while you are learning to trust your intuition. Over time, you’ll be so impressed with the life you’re living and proud of how far you’ve come. This is my wish for each and every human being.
If you would like me to personally help you organize your business processes in a way that honors your authentic self, gives you your time and freedom back so you can live your best life, book a call with me today!