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Learning to be authentic is a lesson for many of us.
It’s definitely been a lesson for me.
Many of us hide ourselves—our true thoughts and feelings.
We convince ourselves to not speak up, creating reasons for it. We contort ourselves to try to fit in with those around us. We mold ourselves to others and try to match what we believe is expected of us—so that we can be liked and accepted.
Learning to unfurl from this is a process.
It takes time.
And it’s a lesson that can be incredibly uncomfortable.
It can be painful to see the ways we have been inauthentic, to realize how we’ve been untrue to ourselves (and others).
But we don’t know what we don’t know until we know it.
I still feel uncomfortable with conflict. I still have to remind myself that people are not always going to like me (or what I do). I still have to convince myself to do things that I know may be controversial or leave me susceptible to criticism.
If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that this is a process. Learning to unwind from these tendencies takes time, patience, and attention. And we will fail over and over and over again. And that will suck and be painful, but it’s okay. It’s part of the journey.
And we can’t force it. We can only try our best.
It helps to understand that there are deep unconscious reasons for why we do what we do. There may be fears—like fears of being rejected or abandoned or shamed. Or we may have beliefs like “we’re not good enough.”
Most of this is so unconscious that we don’t even understand that what we’re doing isn’t authentic. We may not truly understand why we do what we do. We just do what we do; we just are how we are, or so we think.
Until we become aware. And understand that we can live differently.
We can work toward being authentic and true to ourselves. It starts with awareness, willingness, and intention.
We have to want it.
Here are five things we can do to start being more authentic:
1. Set the intention.
Set the intention to be authentic, that you will try your best.
2. Make a conscious effort to be as authentic as possible.
Try to speak openly and honestly as much as you can (which may be infrequent and difficult at first). Be true to yourself and to your experiences. Try to be self-honest when it comes to your own thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Feel them; allow them to move through you. Note them. Always search yourself for your truth, for what feels most authentic to you (even if it feels uncomfortable).
3. Understand you will fail.
You will set the intention to be authentic and try, and then you will notice how you fail. You may notice yourself not speak up in a situation so as to avoid conflict, or you may see how you don’t express how you’re truly feeling, or you may realize that your intentions for some action weren’t “pure,” in the sense that you didn’t really do them for the reason you initially thought. Just notice it. Observe. Take it as a lesson. And set the intention to do better.
4. Become aware of moments when you are inauthentic.
Notice when you say things or do things that are not authentic to your experience or to how you’re feeling. Notice when you shy away from speaking your truth, and if possible, see if you can understand why. Pay attention to your motivations—why are you doing what you’re doing? Pay attention to moments when you do something that is not aligned with your truest feelings, and admit it to yourself. Notice. Watch. Learn. And reaffirm your intention.
Part of untangling from our inauthentic patterns is through understanding how this shows up for us, and there are so many parts we’re not even aware of. We can’t shift something until we see it, until we know it’s there. So have patience while you uncover the parts you’re unaware of, and show yourself tenderness when you see that you haven’t been totally authentic.
5. Come back to yourself.
It’s more of a conscious-thinking mind thing at first, but remind yourself frequently to be authentic, that the most important thing is that you are true to yourself.
Being authentic always feels best to the deepest parts of us.