“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.
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. Sure, your style of communication and how you present yourself (e.g. formal or informal speech) may change, but not your actual core.
There is undoubtedly an authenticity problem in society, as many of you have likely seen and experienced. For example, one survey found that nearly half of all people feel they need to “fake it” at work (a belief that only adds to an already stressful working environment.) When we walk into a place of business to purchase something, it’s commonplace to experience a sense of doubt about the person doing the selling. “What’s in it for them?” we ask ourselves.
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, stressful, and (often) deceitful. It’s also risky – when people feel uncertain about you, they’re more likely to start distrusting anything you do or say.
To be your authentic self requires honesty, vulnerability, and courage – and it’s also incredibly rewarding.
Here are ten ways to become your most authentic self:
1. Write it down
Jot down what you appreciate and love about yourself, along with what you may need to improve on. Write the names of people you want to spend your time with, and what you’re joyful and passionate about. Breathe this information in, meditate on it, and resolve to be this person. This is the authentic you.
2. Learn to feel comfortable in your own skin
Once you understand and accept your real self, get comfortable with it. Allow self-critical thoughts to naturally dissipate. Forget about comparing yourself to others, including what they may think.
3. Let go
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. Keep a journal
Write down times and places when you felt your authenticity begin to wane – the actions and behaviors (yours and theirs), the situation, your observations, and the outcome. Keep this journal up to date – it will provide valuable insight into certain patterns of thoughts and behavior you may wish to 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
Being authentic 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.