Let me tell you a little story. I’ve always loved country and bluegrass music. Here’s another thing, I’m black (lol, obviously). Growing up as a child I remember getting teased for liking country music; and by kids that looked like me which baffled and confused me. Actually I was teased and ridiculed for this and for a lot of the things I liked… speaking properly, listening to whatever music I liked, reading, studying, learning and the list goes on and on. I realize that most of us are adults now but the experiences from our childhoods are often deep seeded and influence our behaviors today.
The experience of being teased and ridiculed caused me to avoid certain situations and people and to develop secret behaviors. I would only listen to the music I liked in the confines of my home or car. I’d never discuss things that I truly liked with other people unless it was “popular”. After years of experiencing life and actually growing up, the internal turmoil you feel from being untrue to yourself and hiding who you really are can take a toll on you.
Life is very short.
Let that sink in. And once you come to this realization, things will begin to change.
You will start to be more kind. You will begin to look for similarities between you and others. You will begin to care more about others. You will laugh more. You will naturally start to be more authentic!
Sometimes it takes awhile to really come to this realization, so here are some things you can do to be more authentic and live a life of authenticity.
1. Realize there’s only one of you on this planet.
This is the beauty of the world in which we live in. Everyone is a different person and just by that fact alone, we have something to offer that no one else does. Because there’s only one of you, your ideas and unique voice and perspective are one of a kind. Don’t hold this back from the world, because it needs it – if you have something to offer, if you have story to tell… share it! Let it out because you never know who will be inspired or uplifted from your experiences.
2. Make a list of the things you love.
This may seem silly, but it’s very important. Making lists that you can frequently refer back to, help you to gain clarity about the things that are important in your life. Once you’ve identified the things that you love, you can evaluate whether your life is filled with those things or not. If your life is not filled with those things, you can make the necessary changes to make sure that your life includes them.
3. Make a list of the ways in which you want to feel.
This will help you begin to tap into what makes you tick as a person. Think about how you truly want to feel in your life (and this list can change and evolve over time) and write it down. Once this list begins to take shape, then you can start making decisions for what needs to occur in your life for you to feel the way that you need to feel. For example one of the things I need to feel whole for my life, is freedom. Identifying this need helped me to make a necessary career change to a field that provided me with responsibility but lots of freedom.
If you want to learn more about this list making process, a great resource is Danielle Laporte and her work with core desired feelings. She has authored a book called “The Desire Map” which could be very helpful.
4. Be brave.
A lot of us are really concerned with what others think about us. That stops a lot of us from being authentic and true to ourselves. To be authentic will require you to be brave and to honor your unique gifts, talents and perspective. Something I believe that helps to cultivate bravery is to set goals for yourself and to stick with them no matter what (within reason). Setting goals and sticking to them helps you to feel the fear but to do what you need to do anyway. For example I had a dream to start this creative business and blog, and I’ve been sitting on it for a very long time. But I made the decision to post a new blog every Friday and to share it with others. It took me years to get to this point because I was afraid of judgement and ridicule. But something that helped me to cultivate bravery and to “just do it” was to reframe the fear in my mind (refer back to number 1 above) and realize that maybe something that I have to share, could be helpful to someone, so I better get to sharing!
5. Keep a gratitude journal.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings”. – William Arthur Ward
Having an “attitude of gratitude” is so important and a way to help develop this is by keeping a gratitude journal. To get your journal started, get a notebook and at the end of each day, take a period of reflection and jot down in your notebook three to five things that you are grateful for. Reflecting on the things that we are grateful for over time will begin to change our brains to be more positive. When we reflect back on our days and lives and are happy and thankful for things, we examine our lives and the things that are uniquely occurring in them. We start to focus more on ourselves and less on others, which can help to eliminate the comparison trap and to help us realize how genuinely wonderful, authentic and unique OUR lives actually are.
What are some of the ways that you feel we can be more authentic or live lives of authenticity. Feel free to leave a comment below. If this post resonated with you, feel free to share it with others.