We all know what waking up on the wrong side of the bed feels like. Irritable, grumpy, we lumber through the day, getting upset over the smallest of things. You feel a strange sense of chaos within yourself.
Could it be that we are simply not being authentic?
We wish we could hold on to the fleeting joy, but it evaporates surprisingly soon.
A few of us know the fruitless chase of mistaken direction and live lives of stability and clear purpose.
But most of us are more malleable and thus more vulnerable to the unexpected twists and turns of life. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The problem arises when this flexibility is not grounded in a strong sense of self. Unless our ideas of who we are and our aspirations for who we want to become are coherent, we experience unease and fear, and begin to feel lost in the web of life.
Your authentic self is who you really are deep down. The part of you that doesn’t care what others think. Learning how to be your authentic self is an essential part of building meaningful relationships. Authenticity happens when your words, actions, and behaviours consistently match your core identity.
We can get caught up in the expectations that other people and society place on us and lose sight of what we truly desire. Being clear on how we want to be remembered releases us of all this nonessential baggage and frees us to be true to ourselves.
If you want to live authentically, you have to dig deep for those natural resources. We’re all born with a set of character strengths, some of which come more naturally to us than others. Research shows that knowing and using our top strengths makes us feel authentic and provides us with a sense of fulfilment. It also connects us to our passions and gets us into moments of flow.
Think of authenticity as a tree—the majestic edifice that teaches us much in its silence. Our strengths and values are the roots that nurture us, the trunk is the solid structure of purpose, and the flexible branches that sway in the breeze are our fluid selves that allow us to become one with the flow of life.
The path to create the life you want starts with knowing who you are. If you follow these tips to find your authentic self, you’ll begin to light the way forward.
1. Take personal inventory
When do you feel the most authentic?
Asking yourself some direct questions can help you discover who you are when you are not putting on a mask or betraying your core values. When you get clear on those values, you will find it easier to make decisions in line with your authentic self.
- Which type of people, activities, or situations make you feel the most alive?
- Are there people or parts of your life that make you feel unhappy, angry, or toxic?
2. Be present
The ability to be present with yourself, no matter what is going on around you, is essential to authenticity. If you are always distracted by your mental chatter or reacting to external situations, you’re not aware of your own state of being. Practice taking a pause to breathe and check in with yourself regularly throughout the day.
3. Build your social support system
We need to find the courage to say NO to the things and people that are not serving us if we want to rediscover ourselves and live our lives with authenticity.
That means intentionally giving your time and attention to people who not only are true to themselves, but also support you in your journey.
Take inventory of your social circle from time to time and surround yourself with supportive people who lift you up. They can encourage you to shine as your true self.
4. Speak your truth—assertively
Improving how you communicate can have a big impact on living your authentic life.
What we want to say often gets lost in how we say it. According to Judith E. Glaser’s research on Conversational Intelligence®, 9 out of 10 conversations miss the mark. The other person fails to understand our intentions, resulting in miscommunication, conflicts, and confusion. Practicing an assertive communication style ensures open, honest dialogue while still considering the needs of others. This encourages balanced conversations in which both people have a chance to speak.
5. Take daily action towards authenticity
Authenticity can feel like a big, abstract concept. But when you really look at it, it comes down to your day-to-day actions. Because it’s those seemingly small moments, the things you say, your decisions, your actions, that add up to who you are.
Actualizing an authentic life starts with intentional daily planning.
Include time each day to take a small step forward on your personal goals. This could be as simple as spending a few minutes researching a career change or practicing an art or sport that brings you joy.
Commit to those small tasks. You’ll be surprised how simple it becomes to see those small changes add up.
Ready to get real?
Remember, who you are at your core, the person that dances behind closed doors, that’s what the world wants. It can take courage to learn how to be real. But when you do, you set yourself free and begin to build a life that brings you joy and meaning. It might not happen overnight, but you can get there.
Monique Britz – JorDan HR Marketing & Digital Campaign Specialist