The most exhausting thing in life is being insincere.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
If you are old enough you may remember the expression of being or keeping it real which was extremely popular in years past. More recently the idea of authenticity has caught our attention to express the goal of living a life where inner needs, desires, and values are understood and honored in life choices. Authenticity involves taking ownership for your life (your decisions, actions, behaviors, its quality, and the results) and living with complete congruity with values and principles.
Young children have no trouble being authentic. However, at some critical point children learn that in order to get along in the world adaptations are necessary and the focus shifts to pleasing others …. parents, friends, teachers…..then eventually to bosses and spouses. Children are “socialized” to learn to play by others rules and that sometimes opinions should be withheld, elders should be listened to, and to deny what is seen and heard. While some of this process is important and necessary – children do need to learn to understand the feelings and expectations of others; when the idea of being your own person and living a life with honesty and integrity is neglected and replaced with the singular goal of approval from others, we are less likely to find a sense of inner peace …the kind that accompanies authentic living. Additionally, people-pleasing, dysfunctional relationships where trying to live life based exclusively on what others think or want, rather than based on our own preferences and choices inevitably creates anxiety and unhappiness.
Authenticity involves a sense of self awareness where there is knowledge of and trust in one’s own motives, emotions, preferences, and abilities. Living an inauthentic life is often experienced as vague dissatisfaction or even depression, a sense of emptiness, or self-betrayal.
Ann Ronan Ph.D. offers the following top ten tips for living authentically:
• Know your purpose - your unique life goals
• Know your values – do your goals match up with your values?
• Know your needs – take care of yourself
• Know your passions – honor what makes your heart sing
• Live from the inside out – listen to your inner voice
• Honor our strengths – identify your unique gifts
• Take time to play – recharge by doing what you love
• Be aware of your self-talk- are you supportive, positive with yourself or condemning and negative? Focus on positive affirmations
• Surround yourself with inspiration
• Serve others – when you are true to yourself and living your purpose, you will share your talents with the world around you
Whether using meditation, journaling, or simply a routine quiet time for reflection; it is important to make time on a regular basis for self-awareness to tune in to who you are, what you want, and what is best for you. Living authentically also requires the courage to face personal truths. That truth might be how you really feel about yourself, the fears that are blocking your life, what habits perpetuate the life you have, or what dreams you have suppressed or neglected.
When you create a life where the decisions you make and the actions you take are considered, deliberate, and in harmony with what it important to you, you are living an authentic life – a life that you know in your heart is right for you. When you have this level of peace you are more likely to respond to difficulties with effective coping strategies and are more effective in meeting goals. Additionally, there is a more creative approach to living, rather than reliance on fear, routine and habit.