For most people a good portion of their lives is spent being a chameleon. They stay under the radar, hoping to blend in and not draw attention. They are full of self-doubt and mold their personality and beliefs based on the company they keep. They sacrifice their authenticity for the security of fitting in, being liked and irrational fear of judgement.
People tend to withhold what they need/desire from others and are unable to communicate effectively with others on an emotional level. The frustration of not being heard evolves into anger when there is a lack of understanding and clarity. Typically, the return emotions experienced are anger, anxiety and guilt all of which are self-destructive and stand in the way of real progress. When they buy into their own story and misconceptions wholeheartedly they become addicted to the thoughts of being broken. They compromise their integrity because they are not being fulfilled by their peers and they play out the story of the victim as they move from excuses to bad behavior.
Over time people learn how to use and manipulate others to get what they need and to feel fulfilled. Both of which they are ignorant on how to give themselves. They define their self-worth by constantly comparing themselves to others and defend their poor behavior because it’s acceptable to others. They often try to create a perception of perfection and unrealistic standards that are unattainable and leave the owner with a feeling of being disconnected. This can be exhausting, worrying about acting a certain way, playing the role and inconsistency around most, if not all people.
It requires a certain level of vulnerability to be authentic. Showing who you really are and how you operate in all areas of your life. By the time people reach their early 20’s their life tends to look pretty great on the outside. They seem to be put together and can have an air of superiority about them. Seemingly untouchable, but with very little true meaning or fulfilling purpose.
“There’s no easy way out. There’s no shortcut home.” – Survivor
There is no shortcut to authenticity. It requires commitment and real inner work. You will need a commitment to be real, take a deep look at yourself and develop a level of comfort with not only who you are now, but the potential you have tucked away. The below steps can be the beginning of a road that leads to greater fulfillment, confidence and action. Don’t be fooled, it’s hard work and will take a daily commitment to be yourself.
Step 1: Accept Mistakes, Take Accountability and Move On.
Your ego has no place in making mistakes and taking accountability. Past mistakes have nothing to do with your decisions today except to use as learning tools. Reply past mistakes only as a tool to debrief and grow. They should not serve the purpose of causing you to feel ashamed or unworthy of the growth you are trying to undertake. Cultivate truth and honest with yourself without the bias of emotion. Honor and accept the past. Learn and take accountability for your actions, past and present and move on.
Step 2: Take ownership in your changes
I became willing to embrace flaws, expose them and share them with others. I started acknowledging them in different ways and expressing them in various formats. We all have to acknowledge some very unpleasant truths about ourselves. Sometimes the biggest can be recognizing and admitting that we play the victim in our own lives; that we are not fully in control of what we do. Playing the victim can temporarily sooth our ego by receiving sympathy and attention from others. However, when we humbly own our mistakes and flaws we can repair ourselves and our sense of self-worth and confidence.
What can we do today: Commit. Get clarity and admit that you own everything about yourself.
Step 3: Practice
Outline a plan to living authentically every day. Take care of your body and mind and treat yourself with respect and value. Take notes from those who live the way you would like to live and imitate them. See if you can recognize a pattern and traits that they have mastered. I have created a short list below of common traits I have found in people who live authentically and take their approach to life in manner that I admire.
What we can do: Be able to identify and be truthful about which traits you would like to cultivate to become the person you would like to be. Be willing to put in the time and effort needed to see your objective through to the end.
The traits below are common to authentic people:
Authentic people accept their life experiences and feel the emotions that arise. They do not shut down their feelings and allow them to fester. Anxiety and guilt arise from not being present. It is not about whether these people feel or not, of course they do. It is about how they deal with what they feel and how they process it. They are honest with themselves.
Authentic people are faultless when they speak to themselves, about themselves and others. They are mindful of the power behind words and believe they are worthy of peace of mind. They have a healthy approach to life by knowing there will always be naysayers, and their opinions don’t matter. You may think of these people as “alphas” and in some cases they are. However, these are not the type of people who have to run down others to feel good about themselves. You will often find them building others up and being positive about their contributions.
Authentic people create their own rules based on the standards that resonate with them. They have the courage to live their lives based on what they believe is right. This type of empowerment gives them the strength to withstand temptation and build self-confidence. When you have the courage to share who you are at the very center, the faults and flaws, they no longer have power over you.
Authentic people do not allow their fears to prevent them being true to themselves. If you are focused on being true to yourself in every moment, you become less concerned about the potential for rejection from others. There are few things more liberating than being yourself to the maximum of your potential.
This is a practice that will require strength and determination. Take it one step at a time and embrace the truth behind every choice you make. Be fearless in the recognition of what needs to change to be who you would like to be. Hide nothing from yourself and be open with others.