At this point in your life, do you feel authentic? Are you are showing the world exactly who you are?
If you answered “no” or “I’m not really sure”, you’re not alone. There is so much chaos and confusion in the world today. With so much pressure from society about who and what we should be, it’s no surprise we get lost along our journey. I spent many years of my life trying to discover who I was, searching outside of myself for answers and struggling to feel like I fit in anywhere.
We struggle to be authentic because we lack the presence and power to stand firm in ourselves, not only physically but in our beliefs and actions. Often, we lack of awareness of who we really are inside: mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Throughout my entire career, this has been my passion: to empower people and help them to not only find their authenticity but live by it. Understanding people empathetically is an inherent gift of mine. As I continue my own journey, my authenticity evolves, and my work with others becomes more clear and direct.
As a coach, my mission is to help people understand themselves better so they can become more empowered to take action and direction in their lives. I discovered this gift about fifteen years ago when I moved back to Pittsburgh after a short but very intense and dark period of my life. I left Syracuse (where I went to college) and my first post-collegiate career after realizing that I was miserable, lost and certainly not living authentically.
I moved home to start over and began working as a personal trainer, which was going to be a fun, easy and temporary job. As a trainer, I quickly learned that wholeness is not just exercising and eating your vegetables. Wellness truly is an inside job. It starts there. If it were as simple as getting on a treadmill five days a week, we wouldn’t be overweight, depressed and heavily medicated. And so my journey continued as I realized my inherent gifts were working with people, understanding them, and together creating a plan for their success.
People need more than just surface-level work. Over the next ten years, I moved away from personal training and into corporate wellness. Then, with much serendipity, I began working with cancer patients. It was in this space where I started to realize my authentic, powerful, professional direction.
We need to understand our power. We are potent creators, my friends. We have so much more authority over ourselves than we realize. The mind- body connection is everything. The relationship you have with yourself is everything. And understanding your subconscious, your trauma and how these things continue to affect everything you do, is everything. I’m on a mission to help people reclaim their personal power.
My journey to find my authenticity continues and evolves, both personally and professionally. Throughout my entire life I have struggled with two very difficult obstacles:
- Listening too often to what others think I “should” do.
- Worrying way too much about what others will think of me.
What a struggle! I lacked solid direction growing up and was terribly insecure.
These “shoulds” and opinions lead me to many relationships that didn’t serve me, one of my majors in college, my first job and a few other professional directions, among other things. It took me ten years to finally feel like I was doing my soul work, what I love and what I was always meant to do.
Below are some steps that I took to discover my authentic self and create my own intentional journey. The same wind blows on us all, but we each have the power to set our sails (thank you, Jim Rohn!). These same steps can help you begin the process toward a more authentic self.
The first step toward change, healing or transformation is awareness. We cannot change what we don’t know. So the first step toward becoming more authentic is tuning in and paying attention.
- Who are you and what do you want in your life?
- What truly makes you happy and fulfilled?
- What situations in your life cause you to feel small, overwhelmed or anxious?
Obviously this is a personal and significant undertaking; real self-examination requires much honesty, vulnerability and courage — and not everyone is up for this task! In fact, I would guess that most people move through their lives without any true, honest self-examination. We all have the ability and opportunity to transform, but some will never even entertain this process.
If you’re reading this, I imagine that you are interested in this opportunity. And I say to you, find some support (i.e. a coach, therapist or spiritual mentor) and start to tune into yourself. Start a journal or a meditation practice. Pay attention to your thoughts, words, actions, patterns, beliefs, fears, etc. and see what you discover.
START TO ASK
Once you have a good understanding of yourself, the next step is to begin to ask questions.
Have you ever avoided asking a question because you didn’t want the answer? Those are the questions you need to ask the most. What makes you uncomfortable about the answers? Be curious.
I finally started asking myself my own important questions:
- Is this who I want to be in the world?
- Does this business fulfill and excite me? Or do I loathe the meetings, events and work involved?
- Why does this relationship cause so much fear/anxiety/anger for me?
MAKE TIME TO LISTEN
When we ask for the answers, we have to be willing to receive them. If you can detach from the answers that you want (or think you want) and remain open with a curious and objective mind, amazing things will start to happen for you. This is an example of our incredible spiritual connection (which we all have at all times, regardless of what you might believe). There is guidance everywhere and it happens every day in your life, but some of you aren’t ready, aren’t open or aren’t looking for this guidance. When you become open to receiving the answers, they will pour into your life.
Where can you make time in your life to hear the answers? I believe all people need a daily spiritual practice. Spiritual practices range from prayer and meditation to yoga, going to church or communing in nature. Working with a coach, therapist, group or mentor is another great way to create a path of inventory, ask the right questions and listen to the answers.
LISTEN TO YOUR HEART
Becoming more heart-centered is a recent concept for me. I am a very cerebral person. At a young age, I realized the power of my mind and intellect, and I created a pretty amazing trajectory. My intellect has caused me a lot of suffering too, which is a separate blog post. Intellect dims intuition. It was my intellect that created all of the “shoulds” in my life. My intellect is also where my fear lives.
Currently, my spiritual practice involves looking at where I am overpowered by my intellect. Where is my mind in overdrive and dimming out the subtle knowledge that lives in my body? I know I am overpowered by my intellect when I am ruminating on something, spending too much time in past or future, or feeling like I’m doing something I really don’t want to do.
Over the past year, I finally realized that I was spread too thin professionally. I had too many balls in the air. Apart from feeling like I had too much on my schedule, there were times when I felt a strong dissonance, like what I was doing professionally was something I had no desire to do.
I learned how to drop out of my head and into my body, into my heart center. One way to start this process is when you are feeling any sort of physical, emotional, mental discomfort, ask yourself:
- What is this discomfort trying to tell me?
- What does my body need today?
Trust your gut. Our internal wisdom is so powerful if we’re willing to listen.
TRUST THE PROCESS
Finding authenticity is one of the most important journeys we can undertake. It’s not always easy, pretty or kind, but it’s worth it. So much of the journey toward finding our authentic self involves letting go of control, detaching from expectations, and realizing we know what’s best for us. When we surrender to our process and allow our spirit, heart and authenticity to guide us, we end up right where we’re supposed to be.
We all have Divine guidance within us. It’s our birthright and internal compass. As we grow older, we are often taught that we need to follow the advice and direction of others. We trust others to tell us what’s wrong with us, what foods to eat and which careers to follow. I’m not saying we don’t ever need to seek the counsel and support of others, but we are the experts on ourselves. Trusting the process means moving forward when we know in our hearts it’s the right decision, even if that means stirring the pot or reorganizing our life. When we trust the process, the process happens. We can let go and know we are guided and protected and that our authenticity will enable the most magnificent life possible.
Having been through this process, I can tell you that living authentically is amazing. I have time and space for the people, places and hobbies I enjoy. My professional work is fulfilling and thriving. Now that I’m aligned with my soul work, there is no struggle or confusion. I’m less concerned about what others think, pleasing everyone and worrying that people might not like my approach.
I invite you, if you haven’t already, to start this process. Become who you were meant to be.
In my coaching practice, healing circles, classes and workshops, I help people understand themselves better so they can live more authentically and discover their true potential. If you are ready to tune in, start to ask and listen, and become more heart-centered, then I would be honored to participate in your process. Together, let’s create a path toward your authentic self.