Steps To Becoming Authentic
There’s a mask I wear around certain people, in specific settings and out of fear that I might be seen. The mask exudes this sunshiny, sweet disposition. Underneath, if I were to be telling the truth, it would be ever-changing throughout each day. It is similar to those mood rings that change based on your temperature. This mask has shown up for me plenty of times, when I did not want to strike a smile or when I felt less confident.
I have cherished this mask, as it has been a self-preserver for years. I realize that what I used to use to get by everyday life is now working against me. My inauthenticity has become a great obstacle to cultivating deep relationships and being transparent with myself and others. Deception has become my self’s own worst enemy.
It is a life-long journey. There is no miracle growth for authenticity. I want to share with you five steps that have helped me chip away at my deception. Keep in mind that your path will be illuminated along the way to help you reach further into your most genuine self.
1. Lend an ear toward that still, small voice.
Life speaks to us in a whisper. That whisper is the nudge in your gut telling you “this isn’t right” or “go for it”. It can lead us away from peril, in pursuit of discovering what it is we truly value in our time on earth.
There have been plenty of times where I have ignored that guidance. I have pushed through to please others, when I knew deep down that it was not okay. I have ignored my body warning me of pain, just to show others that I was not a wet blanket.
You have heard the sayings like, “Be yourself, you are the only one who can be.” or “Be your best self.”
The reality is that fear holds us captive to chasing after ourselves. A healthy amount of fear will keep us cautious. An absorbent amount will stop us from making the next right decision. Ask yourself what the true desires for your life are. Get in tune with the values that you hold.
2. Sort through your values.
By sorting through your values, you can notice which values are most meaningful to you. You can become aware of how much time you put into the differing facets of life. Through this, it will clear up for you to see that maybe you are not putting the time into what truly makes you joyful.
I have done this a few times. Each time, the sorter shows that I value family, friends and health most. Yet, my time goes into work or other areas from which I do not yield as much contentment. You can begin to write down on your calendar or planner where you time is going. I use a green marker to indicate healthcare, exercising, meditation, etc.
This allows me to see how much green is going into my time. I use blue for friend/family time, so I note how much blue is on my agenda week-to-week. When those colors are sparse, I typically realize that is why I am not feeling my best.
3. Open up to others.
Imagine an Ice Cream Sundae being your gauge for levels of intimacy. The bottom being the banana and chocolate syrup and the ice cream right on top. Then comes the whipped cream, more syrup, and some nuts topped with a Maraschino Cherry. Stick with the cherry for now. The cherry represents the surface of vulnerability and genuineness. As you learn who is safe and supportive, you can get to the nuts and whipped cream. By testing openness out, you can presume a true level of authenticity.
4. Actions speak louder.
We can talk about wanting authenticity all day, but there is no change instilled until we act upon it. Let’s chew on this for a minute. Acting in an authentic manner is a result of the above information. It is also standing for what you believe and being comfortable dressing for the part. The part being your truest self. It is also speaking up for your beliefs and recognizing that it is okay if others do not share the same opinions. Again, start one bite at a time to get a taste for what this feels like to act more genuinely.
5. Notice how you feel.
Once you start taking a step at a time towards authenticity, you will become aware of how you feel. Fear and anxiety will likely be culprits to try to shut down your motives. Let those empower you to press on. After all, you cannot entirely feel comfortable with a new mindset until you have been uncomfortable in the process. Empowerment is another move in the right direction. Each piece of empowerment will expand your sense of self and you will find your confidence in your authentic being as the most rewarding place to be.
There’s a mask I used to wear around certain people, in specific settings and out of fear that I might be seen. I’ve placed it on the top shelf in my closet. It no longer gets to block who I am out of a catastrophic way of thinking I will not be liked. I can still exude that sunny disposition, but this time it is authentic. Consider what it would look like to place your mask aside for just a moment or two. Imagine what you will feel, how you will look and the ways in which you will flourish in your most genuine self.