This sentence rings the bell with me and with many women I’ve worked with: “I don’t know who I am anymore!” The question is: “Have you ever known who you really are?
We live in a society that puts high pressure on young girls and women to fit certain standards of intelligence and beauty. This makes it harder and harder for many women to feel liked, included and accepted.
Descartes was right: by nature, we are all “social animals”. No matter our gender, race, age or social status, we all have a basic human need to feel seen, heard, liked, appreciated and loved. We need to belong to our community and to feel socially accepted. There’s nothing wrong with that.
The problem occurs when we are not able to satisfy some of our human desires by ourselves and we use others as a source of happiness and love. From doing things we don’t really want to do in order to be liked, constantly playing a role to fit in or to impress others, pretending that everything is fine when it isn’t in order to look strong, putting on some kind of mask in order to look smarter, lighter or brighter.
Being ourselves has become an act of courage. A choice we’re making. It’s not always easy, as sometimes being true to what you know is right means going against the crowd. On the other hand, it comes with a huge amount of Self-Respect, Freedom, and Inner Peace.
So what is it to be authentic?
You are authentic when who you are, what you do and what you believe in all align perfectly. You are honest and true. You are not trying to look perfect because no one is. You are relating to people around you genuinely, with no hidden agenda. You are accepting yourself with all perfect imperfections, embracing your flaws and being aware of your shadow. You’re willing to show vulnerability. You are standing by your beliefs and what you think is right. You are living your life according to your own values and goals, rather than those of other people.
Here are 8 useful steps that can help you to get closer to your Real Self and live an authentic life:
1. Identify your core values and then commit to living and working according to them.
Your personal values will show you what really matters in your life: growth, freedom, fun, impact, honesty, loyalty, family, friendship, love etc. Look for the areas in your life where you’re not fully honoring your values. If for example, courage would be important to you, how brave are you to make your own choices, take risks and get out of your comfort zone?
I have included a value discovery exercise in my coaching practice and, trust me, there’s nothing more fulfilling to me than witnessing people discover what truly matters in their lives and who they really are (which in many cases comes as quite different from what they’ve been told they should be or do in the past).
2. Work on your self-esteem.
Be nice to yourself. Talk to yourself kindly. Treat yourself well. Engage in activities you like. Have fun. Bring happiness into your life from the inside out, don’t chase it through other people. Self-care is a necessity and people who feel good about themselves don’t need to look for validation from others.
3. Be vulnerable and honest about your feelings and emotions.
You have the right to feel scared, happy, sad, angry, joyful, kind, shy, passionate, depressed, energized etc. It comes with the package of being human. In reality, there is no such a thing as good or bad emotions. The so-called “bad” emotions as for example being angry or sad are trying to protect us from being hurt. What truly matters is how we get to self-manage our emotions and the way we express them, so we do not harm ourselves or other people.
4. Make your own choices.
In your life, you are the Pilot. You don’t need to justify the way you feel or think to anyone. The number one regret older people have is not living their lives according to their own needs and wishes. Don’t make the same mistake.
5. Don’t try to imitate and be a copy of someone else.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Sing your own song and live your own journey.
6. Communicate honestly.
“Be impeccable with your word.” (Don Miguel Ruiz) No lies. No hidden agendas or gossiping. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Walk the talk. Be a servant of truth.
7. Live with integrity.
Take responsibility for your own actions, including your mistakes. Don’t blame anything on others.
8. Spend time with people who bring the best in you, who support you and accept you just the way you are.
Relationships in which you need to pretend are toxic. If you don’t feel at ease with people, don’t change yourself, change the people. Your time is precious and it’s never coming back.
The world doesn’t need more counterfeit people. The world needs you to be You.
With love, Sara
For tons of useful coaching tips and weekly inspiration for a woman’s soul, sign up for my newsletter on any page of my website — it’s free! www.sarafabiancoaching.com
Originally published at sarafabiancoaching.com on March 4, 2016.
Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com