Being Authentically You
The road leading back to being your authentic self may be full of twists and turns, but remember that the lessons learned are the best part of the journey.
I want to start by telling you a story about a woman. As a child, she was a kind, compassionate being. She knew she had access to the wisdom of the ages. She would listen to her intuition before she was old enough even to understand what intuition was. She loved animals, and her heart broke whenever she witnessed an animal suffering.
She loved being creative, making things with her hands, and playing with color. She painted and was mesmerized by yarn, so she taught herself how to crochet and do embroidery. Creating was part of who she was.
She was a fierce advocate for the underdog and always stood up for the kid being bullied. Injustice was intolerable. She used her voice to stand up for those who couldn't or wouldn't stand up for themselves. As a child, she listened to the wisdom of her heart.
As she started to grow, the voices from the outside, family, society, and friends, started to get louder than the quiet voice of her heart. All that noise drowned out the wisdom of the ages.
As the girl became a woman, she started to do what was expected. She did the things that society demanded of her. She went to college, got a job, and looked for a husband (though here, she stood firm in not settling for a man she knew would make her miserable). She bought a house and got busy living her life as society expected.
The years flew by, and she noticed that she was angry more often than not. She was tired and overweight; she spent too many nights having a couple too many glasses of wine and falling asleep in front of the TV. She thought there had to be more to life.
The thought that there had to be more took and grew roots. The woman started to explore what she could do to feel better. She thought that she would go and find herself. After searching through cupboards, peeking under beds, looking in closets, and searching dark corners of the attic, she realized that she wasn't lost. She realized that she had become buried under the shoulds, got to's, and musts that society had imposed. She needed to clear the path to find her way back to herself.
It was a circuitous journey and a journey that continues to this day. There was much cleaning, tidying, and removing of unnecessary beliefs and mindsets. However, she has found great joy in living an authentic life. What she needs flows to her. Her life is full of love and laughter. She is comfortable with who she has become. I should know because that woman is me.
I am not any different than you. I don't have any unique talents that make me better able to discover the secrets of living authentically. Anyone can do it. Let me share what I believe are the critical steps to start being authentically yourself.
The Journey Back to Being Authentic
In reading this blog post, you might have begun to wonder if you are being authentically you or not. That right there is the first step. When you start to wonder who you are, how things could be different, and how in the hell you changed so much over the years, not necessarily for the better, this is the door that leads to the path of self-discovery.
Once the wondering and questioning begins, start to become curious about the things in your life. Do they genuinely make you happy, or are they a part of your life because you think they are expected. I'm not implying that you upend your life and move to a cattle ranch in Montana; I'm suggesting that you examine your choices in a nonjudgmental way.
The next step is to remember what the things were that lit you up when you were a kid. This step is where I struggled. What I thought was this: Horses lit me up. Everything was about horses. If I wasn't on a horse or caring for a horse, I was pretending I was a horse. Horses aren't a part of my life anymore.
What I realized, after much resistance, was that everything still was about horses! When I found my way back to horses, I found my way back to myself.
The way I am with horses is entirely different from when I was a kid.
I no longer compete and focus on getting the horse to do what I want, but I focus on being in a relationship with horses and learning from their wisdom.
You may find that something similar happens to you. You most likely will connect with that interest in a way that is different but related to your childhood interest. This difference makes perfect sense since you have grown, changed, and gained knowledge that allows you to embellish on your earlier passion.
A couple of years into my journey to find myself, I found my way back to horses. This delay is why I recommend that my coaching clients work through any resistance they have to looking at their childhood passions and interests. That resistance you are feeling is your mind at work. You see, your mind likes to think that it's the one in control of everything, but it's not. Your heart, your intuition, and your soul are who you should be letting guide you.
Spend some time on this step of remembering your childhood passions. Investigate, play, be curious, and come at it with an open mind. The chances are that you will find parts of who you are along this journey of discovery. Look for the things that spark joy in your heart, and investigate these further.
Finding Your True Self
Finding your true self isn't a one-and-done activity. It is a process and a journey. You can do a variety of activities to help with self-discovery, and one of my favorites is called "Life Philosophy in 100 Words.
Life Philosophy in 100 Words is a fun, creative way to start looking at what are the things in life that are must-haves or non-negotiable. One hundred words get used up fast, making you think deeply about what matters most to you. You don't need to write complete sentences; I will give you an example to help you to get clear on what I mean.
Life Philosophy in 100 Words
Be Kind. Protect the earth. Live simply so others may simply live. Be a shoulder to cry on. Give to those in need. Nourish curiosity. Continuously learn. Dance outside your comfort zone. Advocate for those with no voice. Create. Be gentle with yourself. Practice self-care. Be positive. Live with purpose. Be like silk; soft, light, strong, and flexible. Be mindful of others; you never know what burden they are carrying. Leave where you have been better than when you got there. Be open to people who are different. Be aware that you matter too.
This exercise allows you to think about essential elements for living a happy, fulfilled life. You are provided the opportunity to take a look at your values. When you live your values, you are living authentically. To find your true self, you must get clear on your values because that is the path back to yourself.
What are Values?
Values can be defined as individual beliefs that motivate people to act in a particular manner. They serve as a guide for human behavior. Wikipedia defines values by saying; values denote the degree of importance of some thing or action to determine what actions are best to do or what way is best to live.
Honestly, values are usually pretty deeply entrenched and may not be at the forefront of your mind. Don't feel bad if you have to think about it; you're in good company. But think about it, you must! When you are clear on your values, you get clear on who you are, and you can begin to make choices that align with the authentic you.
Much of the dissatisfaction we have in life comes from living in a way that is not in line with our values. When you clarify what matters most to you, those things you refuse to compromise on, the picture of who you are comes into focus. Now you can make deliberate choices about how you will live your life. This alignment will result in magical shifts in the quality of your life.
In conclusion, I would like to make clear that the essential takeaway here is that finding your true self or becoming authentically you is a journey. There will be many twists and turns and stops and starts, but look at these as lessons on getting clearer. The journey will be different for each person who commits to walking this path. It is not for the faint of heart or those who aren't willing to do the work, but the payoff is magical.
Life is all about finding yourself, or it can be if you choose to take the journey. If you make the choice, know that there is joy and ease when you start to live life as you were designed to live it.
I will leave you with these wise words from the renowned author, researcher, and speaker, Brené Brown, "if you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.
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