“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we actually are.” – Brené Brown, author and researcher
Embracing An Authentic Life
One does not come by authenticity easily. It is a process that requires an exploration in self-awareness. To live an authentic life requires us to examine our values, our truths, our insecurities, our desires, and our fears. It is only once we have reflected on these ideas and really get to know ourselves, that we can begin to live a life of intention, meaning, and authenticity.
When we lie, cheat, or engage in any other action that goes against the grain of what we believe to be right, we are not living authentically. It feels good to live in accordance with our values. Every time we make a wise decision or the right decision, we elevate ourselves and live more joyously. A life guided by our own prescribed values–not others’–relieves us from feeling shame or guilt which are two very negative emotions. It can be difficult to do what is right versus what is popular; however, we lose self-respect when we fail to stand up for what we believe in.
Owning our truth is like removing the albatross from around our neck. When we carry secrets and fail to disclose our truth, we deny who we are. Our experiences create our identity and teach us valuable lessons. Furthermore, we can’t heal painful memories if we don’t acknowledge that they happened. It is not necessary to disclose our truths to everyone, but we do need trusted people in our lives with whom we can share our poor choices or embarrassing and shaming experiences. By revealing the dark yet very human side of ourselves, or by disclosing painful events that have occurred in our lives, we can let go of negative baggage and free ourselves from internal suffering that keeps us imprisoned from living an authentic life.
Suggested Read: How To Let Go And Live Mindfully
Insecurities can create defensiveness and blame. Instead of looking inward, we blame other people or situations for our negative emotions. Conversely, we may endlessly search for others’ validation resulting in short-term happiness but long-term dissatisfaction and discontent. Because we don’t want to appear a certain way, we overcompensate with false bravado, jealousy, perfectionism or paranoia. The thought of others finding out about our weaknesses can cause needless anxiety as it is difficult to keep up false appearances.
Too often, we put everyone else’s needs ahead of our own. We do things we don’t want to do. We pursue careers that seem practical and monetarily rewarding but bore us. We marry because our family likes and approves of our significant other, yet our intuition tells us they are not the one. We have children because society implies that is the road we should take when we’d rather travel or focus on a career.
We question, “What will people think if I step outside the box and make unconventional choices?”
When we fail to follow our most intrinsic desires, we fail to live our life purpose. To live our purpose is to live authentically.
There is no greater obstacle to authenticity than fear. Fear keeps us caged physically and mentally. Like a captive animal, our thoughts pace back and forth keeping us stuck in an unfilling life. We “what if” ourselves ad nauseum–never taking the necessary risk to free ourselves. We forgo the move, the graduate school application, the promotion, the career change, the adventure, the love interest, the divorce, or the new hobby or sport because of fear: fear of change; fear of inadequacy; fear of failure; fear of rejection; fear of judgement; fear of uncertainty; and fear of vulnerability. Each time we circumvent our fears, we become who we are meant to be.