“When you are authentic, you create a certain energy… people want to be around you because you are unique.” – Andie MacDowell
There’s a unique and unmistakable power in knowing, becoming and being your real self. Those who are truly happy in life understand this power and vehemently stick to their authentic selves.
When you discover how to be your authentic self, you live in the flow. Creativity and abundance come to you effortlessly. Consistently living up to your core values leads to self-confidence. You trust yourself, and know that you can overcome obstacles when pursuing your goals.
To be authentic is not to allow a situation or person to change you, unless for the better. Personal authenticity is firmly in place, regardless of who is in your company.
While we may not be able to change someone else’s authenticity, we can certainly change ours. Feeling the need to “put on a mask” is exhausting and stressful.
To be your authentic self requires honesty, vulnerability, and courage – and it’s also incredibly rewarding.
What does it mean to be an authentic person? And how do you find your true self? Here are some tips for how to discover yourself.
1. 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?
Then take it a step further. In situations that feel wrong to you, what’s really going on? Write down:
- Who you’re with
- What emotions come up
- What these experiences cost you emotionally or physically
In situations where you feel authentic, what’s going on? Write down:
- Who you’re with
- What activities are involved
- Positive emotions or outcomes of these experiences
From this activity alone, you will get a sense of what needs to change.
2. BUILD YOUR AUTHENTIC SOCIAL CIRCLE
If you want to live an authentic life, you’ll need to surround yourself with authentic people.
That means intentionally giving your time and attention to people who not only are true to themselves, but also support you in your journey.
Surround yourself with supportive people who lift you up. They can encourage you to shine as your true self.
- Find communities, groups, or people in your life who share your core values. Spend time with them and stand by them
- Surround yourself with people who encourage your big dreams, rather than shoot them down
- Walk away from the negative people
- Find a spiritual life coach who can help navigate your path to self-discovery
3. ASSERTIVELY SPEAK YOUR TRUTH
- Expressing your needs honestly with confidence
- Listening to other people when they speak
- Set boundaries that prevent unhealthy conversations
- Keeping eye contact during a conversation
- Being able to say no
Release any guilt or self-limiting thoughts. The past is the past – it’s over, done. Be in the moment, present, and at peace with your identity. This process may be gradual, and that’s okay. Breathe, be patient, and your real self will eventually surface.
4. IGNORE THE CYNICS
As you begin to make positive changes in your life, people will start to take notice. Most will look at you with admiration and respect – a few may not. Should you become aware of this cynicism, be mindful, and their pessimism, along with any discomfort you may feel, will inevitably disappear.
5. TAKE DAILY ACTION
If your time is dominated by other people’s priorities, of course you will feel you are not living your truth. Set aside time to decide your priorities for the day ahead: tasks for work, exercise, getting enough sleep.
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.
Write down times and places when you felt your authenticity begin to wane – the actions and behaviours (yours and theirs), the situation, your observations, and the outcome. Make a change!
6. PAY ATTENTION TO EVERYONE
It’s too easy to become lazy and overlook other people – don’t make this mistake. Many people have a valuable lesson to teach if we’d only let them. Don’t underestimate the power of observation. Some of the best lessons may come without a word being uttered.
7. PRACTICE ACTIVE LISTENING
Giving your full attention to someone else is a remarkably powerful skill. Active listening is a sign of respect and of your true interest in others, which is a gift in itself. However, it also provides: (1) a stronger bond and level of trust with others, and (2) a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow from their knowledge and experiences.
8. BE KIND
Being your authentic self and living up to your ideals means demonstrating kindness to everyone. Say hello, ask them how they’re doing, and make good eye contact while displaying a genuine smile.
9. ACCEPT CHANGE
In order to be authentic, it also means being comfortable with change. Regardless of the circumstances, remain true to your inner core. Be open to self-improvement as well, as there is nothing more authentic than changing for the better.
10. ALIGN YOUR HEART AND PATH
You have one precious life to live. Spend it following your passions and your heart. Remember, the only expectations that truly matter are the ones that you set forth. Follow your real expectations by allowing you heart and life’s journey to walk step-in-step.
Now that you have a better idea of how to discover yourself, all that is left is to work on it and, most importantly of all, be authentic. Once you have figured out how to do this, and started living it, you may be surprised at how much your life and your relationships improve.