Updated on November 6th, 2018
Do you feel that you’re living to please others? Are you stuck in a life that doesn’t feel like you? Do you wish you could be more fully and uniquely yourself? Being authentic can be scary, yet it is very freeing, too. Being the Real You in your life will also help you love your life more. And others will like and trust you more for it, too! Read on to discover 5 simple ways to be(come) more authentic.
Authenticity is freeing
Becoming more authentic, or more true to ourselves, is a key process for many of us, as we mature in life.
It’s about what you do or say being in line with who you really are – rather than following what you think others expect from you, what you believe others will find acceptable, or what you feel you should do or say.
Authenticity is about letting others see the Real You.
With your strengths, your unique characteristics and your weaknesses and imperfections, too.
Authentic people are special
Whom do you know who is truly authentic? What makes them so? And would you agree that there is something special about them?
Authentic people attract our attention like magnets, in positive ways.
They come across as real and genuine. We trust them instinctively, because we get a consistent sense of who they are.
And we like them – particularly when, and indeed because – they’re not perfect, and are not trying to be. Authentic people allow themselves to be themselves. And they allow the world to see that.
This is different from letting it all hang out and presenting their worst self to the world: When something goes well for them – authentic people acknowledge it, and celebrate with others. And when something goes wrong for them – they own up to it, say it’s not their strength, make amends or improvements if needed, and move on.
Authentic people have accepted that, right now, they’re good enough as they are.
This doesn’t mean they don’t see a need to continue learning and improving themselves. It’s just that they’re not letting this make them feel inadequate: Yes, they know they can and will improve, but for now they take an attitude of resting in themselves, and being who they are.
And we are drawn to them, because this peaceful and determined way of being themselves speaks to our own longing to do the same – particularly, if we feel trapped in a life that doesn’t suit us, or doesn’t allow us to express ourselves fully.
So why is it scary to be authentic?
When you start to be more authentic, you don’t know how it’s going to land with the people around you: How are they going to respond? Will they welcome the Real You, or reject it? What if you don’t live up to their expectations?
We all have a part in us that likes and needs to please others in order to be accepted.
Becoming more authentic involves not letting that part rule over who you really are.
And with that, getting over your fears of being judged or rejected where it really matters.
There are ways that we can grow beyond our fears and overcome them. When have you yourself done that in the past? That will show you that you are capable of it.
To overcome your fear: Tap into your courage and take a risk. Let others see the Real You – and see what happens.
(And to read more about this, scroll down to point 5. Conquer Your Fear.)
And you know what?
Starting to put that Real You forward is very liberating: You free yourself from others’ expectations or judgments, and express your true self. You take control of who you are, and how you live with this. You stop fretting about having to be perfect, too.
And you may well find that, in doing so and increasingly relaxing into it, you also raise your spirits, increase your vitality, and strengthen your self-esteem. And you will very likely love your life more, too!
How to become more authentic
Here’s how to get started:
1. Truly know yourself
Create a picture that expresses this, like the one I use, which you can see in the picture on the side. If you like to work with a template – I have created a Flower Exercise, which I use in working with my clients, to help them build a snapshot of who they really are:
If you’re not sure about your strengths and what you’re really good at, here’s a must-do exercise to open your eyes to that – with the help of others.
Whichever format you choose, make your picture of the Real You genuine, honest and compassionate – warts and all.
But stay grounded and centred with it: No boasting about why you’re so great, nor wallowing in why you’re no good.
In fact, make no judgment at all – no labeling any of your characteristics as good or bad: Just let the picture of you stand as it is, and work on accepting yourself as you are.
Now: Which one thing can you do today, in order to be more true to this self you’ve just described?
2. Own your talents and your shortcomings
And it’s even more difficult to allow our strengths or talents to shine!
What is it you know how to do really well? Who can you tell about it? And how can you best apply this talent? What could you start with immediately?
An example: If you get a genuine compliment about something you’ve done well, practice saying Thank You, with a smile and nothing else. No squirming, self-deprecating or deflecting the praise onto others. And no arrogant self-aggrandising either. Just accept something’s gone well, be happy for it, and say thank-you.
Owning our strengths and weaknesses means to stop judging ourselves – and let go of our fears of being judged by others.
Again: If you’re not sure about your strengths and what you’re really good at, do this must-do exercise to open your eyes to that – with the help of others.
Equally: What are you not so good at? Where would it be freeing to own up to a shortcoming – with kindness – and either improve or manage it in some creative way? How could you do that?
So, for example: When you get a criticism, or when something you’ve tried goes wrong, look at it as dispassionately as possible: Acknowledge what you hear, or what’s happened – to yourself and others. What does this really say? What can you learn from it? What do you need to do – or do differently? Then make the required change, put things right or apologise if you need to, and move on.
Go on, try it!
3. Follow your inner compass
Most of us have a gut feeling, an intuitively felt sense, about what is right or wrong for us.
Though sometimes we can lose touch with it, this visceral knowledge is close to who we really are. And paying attention to it will help you be(come) more authentic.
Stop over-thinking, analysing and going ’round in circles about things – notice when you’re doing it, and consciously stop.
Instead, immerse yourself in your life or your work as an experience. Let yourself be attracted by things and people, and notice how this feels.
What does your gut feeling say? Is what you’re experiencing, sensing, feeling right for you? Or wrong for you?
There is no perfect Right or Wrong – only what feels right or wrong for you right now. Learn to trust that and go with it.
So ask yourself:
How can you express more of what feels right for you in your life? How can you say more ‘honest Nos’ to what feels wrong for you? What do you need to do now?
4. Speak and act your truth
This is not about constantly rubbing your truth into others’ faces – that would be needy and inconsiderate. Neither is it about telling people the hard, unfiltered truth of what you think of them – because: Who are you to judge?
If something pleases you, say so. If something is not right for you, speak up. Be open about your intentions. Accept praise, and enjoy your successes. Admit failures and rectify mistakes.
Say it as it is, and be kind. Do this gracefully, humbly, with love and respect for yourself and others. Stay grounded and do not judge.
Stop acting. Stop playing roles. Stop doing what you think is expected of you.
Where can you start doing this in your life today?
5. Conquer your fear
Fear of not knowing others’ response to a more authentic you. Of being judged or ridiculed. Of making mistakes or being wrong. Of being marginalised. Of losing friends or loved ones. Of suffering financially. Of making your life more difficult.
I’m sure there are many more!
Jack Canfield says that everything we want is on the other side of fear – I believe this is particularly true for the meaningful, important things in life: if they are very worthwhile, the stakes are higher.
Which fear is stopping you be(coming) more authentic?
What is the consequence of giving in to your fear? And what would happen if instead you overcame it?
Think about it: What’s the worst that can happen? And if that did happen, how would it matter, and how will you respond? You might well find your worst case scenario is not so bad at all, and that there are practical ways that you can deal with it.
For example: You might lose a friend – but how good a friend were they to begin with if they drop you or respond negatively when you become more real? And them leaving you might indeed create the space for you to gain a new friend – one that actually holds the Real You in high esteem!
What do you need to do in order to let that fear go? Where can you find the courage within yourself to let others see the Real You – in very small steps, if you need to? Do it now – and see what happens.
Oh – and if you have a feeling that you might use your fear as an excuse for not being real, check out my friendly 5 Surefire Ways to Overcome Excuses…
A final thought…
Over to you
What do you think of these 5 ways to be(come) more authentic?
What are your experiences with them?
And which other ways have helped you be(come) more authentic?
I’d love to read your views!
And if you want to work with me to create your very own, authentic life, why not get in touch with me? Just email me at email@example.com to arrange your free, no-obligation call about what you need, and how my coaching can best help you.
Photos: Monica Castenetto and Pixabay