the authentic self- the best self to be
No matter what profession you are in, what beliefs you have, where you grew up or what race you are, I can assure you that the greatest gift you can give to others, and to yourself, is to live in alignment with your authentic self. To live a life of authenticity is to share your uniqueness with the world. Out of all the people who exist, who have ever existed, you- yes you - have a unique combination of experiences, passions, thoughts, feelings and dreams. All of which combine into a bespoke culmination of gifts which only you can give to the world.
When we are children we are more in touch with what our natural gifts are because we have not yet been tamed by society. We are unafraid to live authentically. As we grow up, we are assigned socially constructed labels and boxes. In order to feel accepted and fit in, we contort ourselves to fit neatly into these boxes. We make ourselves small and tidy, aiming for perfection. We push down our deepest desires to be accepted. By doing this, we disconnect from our inner voice, our intuition, and allow the adaptive self to take the reins.
the adaptive self
We are social beings who need to adapt in order to live in communities, this is simply a part of being human. We need to learn certain social cues and rules to be functioning and contributing members of society. However, when the adaptive self takes full control, we lose track of who we are because we constantly shift our behaviour to please others.
When we make people-pleasing a priority, not only do we subject ourselves to limiting labels and belief systems but we also live in a state of self-denial. We suppress and compromise our own spirit, the authentic self. By living as someone you are not, you are telling your true self that who you are is unacceptable. You are constantly punishing yourself by keeping your true self locked away, like Rapunzel in the tower. This leads to disillusionment, pain, a deep sense of sadness and even burnout.
unmasking the authentic self
We are the only ones who can unlock the tower gate, rip off the mask and let the authentic self into the light. We cannot expect to share our unique magic with the world if we keep our magic hidden. We need to free ourselves from the bonds of perfectionism and the limited persona we create for ourselves. We need to breathe life into the creative spirit and allow it to connect us with our authenticity.
Just like ripping off a bandaid can be painful, so too can ripping off the mask of inauthenticity. With some exceptions, most people don’t like standing out and being different. It makes us feel vulnerable. But there is strength and beauty in vulnerability. Not to mention an insurmountable sense of freedom too.
Growth is an uncomfortable process, that’s how you know you’re doing it right. It takes courage to allow yourself to be vulnerable, to allow yourself to be uncomfortable and to grow.
let go of perfectionism
The best way to support yourself through these feelings of discomfort is to be kind. Approach yourself with love. Be gentle. Have an open mind and let go of rigid, perfectionist thinking as this only blocks you from expressing your authenticity.
Unfortunately, the times we live in make it that much harder to let go of perfectionist thinking as social media thrives on users creating perfect online personas. This increases the value of superficiality, while lowering the value of authenticity. But just because it may be more challenging, does not make it impossible.
As long as you are kind to others, you can say yes to yourself. Listen to your intuition and do things that make you feel peace, joy, happiness and contentment. It’s ok to say no to something that you don’t want to do - actually, it’s not just ok, it’s healthy.
Setting boundaries is one of the harder things I have had to practise in order to align with my spirit but the rewards are worth it. I’ve found that saying no when something doesn’t suit me, has created so much space. Space to express my true desires and be my true self.
*FYI- a gentle but firm way to say no without actually saying “no” is “that won’t be possible”.
When we do things that are not in alignment with our inner needs, we take from our emotional, psychological and spiritual health. Whereas when we do things in alignment with our inner needs, we feel a sense of fulfilment because we are nurturing ourselves. If we get into a rhythm of constantly pleasing others instead of nurturing ourselves, we risk damaging our psychological, spiritual and even physical wellbeing.
life is a jug
A dear friend once gave me an empty glass jug as a gift. She explained that life was like this jug- we are all born with one. Throughout our journey we make choices about what we put into our jug and what we leave out, but the space in the jug is limited.
We have to make conscious decisions about what we fill our jugs with. If we are feeling overwhelmed, unhappy, anxious etc. we need to evaluate the content of our jugs and let go of things which only take up space.
The things which clutter our lives and keep us busy are the things which are unfulfilling. Things which distract us and keep us from doing what makes us happy. Pouring out unfulfilling things leaves you with space to fill with positive ones.
Living an authentic life includes being mindful of the contents of your jug. The only way to really know what is taking up space and what is serving you is to be honest and allow the authentic self to be heard. Evaluating your inner needs in this way leads you one step closer to living in alignment with your true self.
live your values
One bonus about living in alignment with your authentic self is that you never have to explain who you are. This is because true authenticity needs no explanation, it becomes who you are. You live your values and beliefs. Your choices, the special way that you are, your voice, your mannerisms - all of it becomes authentically you.
The world needs more uniqueness, it needs your uniqueness, your gifts. Be brave. Be vulnerable. Be authentically and unapologetically you!