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Do you ever wonder how people would react if you were to expose your true self?
Most people desire the freedom to be themselves, but the fear of rejection and disapproval drives them to compromise their individuality.
The truth for me is that I spent the majority of my adult life putting on a show. I presented a carefully crafted, perfect version of myself to the public so people would approve of me. I thought having nice things would make me happy. I thought I needed a life that would be worthy of everyone else’s approval. I lacked awareness, clarity, and authenticity.
Authenticity is about being content with yourself as you are, without labels or identification. It means that you are aware of, fully embrace, and accept who you are and your beliefs.
So, what is it? Why don’t we just live naturally and allow our authenticity to be felt, expressed, and seen?
Over time, generations have been given and taught limitations on what is acceptable physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. As children, we’re taught to keep a lid on our emotions that are considered socially inappropriate such as anger, fear, and sadness. We come to believe others’ projections to be the truth. And we quickly learn to put conditions on our happiness—comparing ourselves to others, casting judgment, doubting ourselves, allowing fear or self-righteousness to take hold—and slowly our hearts begin to close. We isolate ourselves, and in doing so, we cripple our spirit, stifle our authentic expression, and cut off our joy.
Being authentic in a world where social consequences are at stake isn’t always easy. It takes a lot of courage, strength, and feeling comfortable with who we are. It is about being vulnerable, real, and sharing how we truly feel. To do that, we need to let go of the things that do not serve us. Everyone must decide whether to be true to their selves or true to the world.
“This above all: to thine own self be true.” ~ William Shakespeare
With the right spiritual guidance, practice, and advice anyone can uncover their truth and gain the assurance to live in that truth every day. My primary guides and maps on the road to authenticity have been books from authors like Gabby Bernstein, Eckhart Tolle, and Dr. Wayne Dyer.
The lessons in these books gave me the necessary tools and practices to unlearn my false perception of myself. I’ve written page after page in my journal about things like what it means to be authentic and how I could be honest in every area of my life to maintain this authenticity. Through their spiritual advice, wisdom, and teachings, I was given tools, methods, and practices to transform my self-doubt into self-assurance. Today, I live in my authentic power.
I am committed to sharing my truth and it is my sincerest hope that these steps show you the path to connect with the truth of who you really are.
In this article, I share the method I used; I break down the importance of each step; I give you the insights I’ve learned; and more importantly, I show you how to apply it. Throughout my research, I found Gabby Bernstein’s method to not only be effective but has produced everlasting results for me. I’ll explain them step by step and help you to understand why I believe they are vital on your path to authenticity.
Being authentic means that you act in ways that show your true self rather than showing people only a particular side of yourself. In general, when talking about someone who is authentic, it means that they are genuine, honest, and real.
Step 1: Witness the moments when you’re out of alignment with your truth.
You have most likely heard the term “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” This is an example of inauthenticity. The wolf is not a sheep; he is showing a sheep to the outside when inside he is a wolf. This exercise will heighten your awareness of what it feels like to be authentic (standing in your truth) in opposition to what it feels like to be inauthentic (out of alignment with the truth of who you are).
Start by looking closely at when you’re out of your truth and make a list. Answer this question, “I’m out of my truth when I’m ___.”
Some example answers include:
>> with certain family members
>> at work
>> with certain friends
>> around a lot of people I don’t know
>> on a date
>> on social media
Then describe the difference you notice in yourself when you are out of alignment with your truth and feeling the need to hide the real parts of you. This is about knowing the difference between what it feels like to be connected to the presence of your power versus what it feels like when you’re not.
How do you act, talk, think, and even breathe differently? Pay close attention to the differences in how you feel, physically and emotionally.
You can finish this sentence:
“When I’m out of alignment with my authentic truth, I ____.”
As an example, here is my truth.
When I’m out of alignment with my authentic truth, I become withdrawn and silent. I avoid eye contact, feel uncomfortable, and hold my breath. That’s how I act outwardly. Inside, my energy is in a fearful state, and I feel frustrated and disappointed in myself.
Step 2: Identify what is underneath your fear of not being yourself.
The biggest work in our lives is to release the beliefs that hold us back from stepping into the truth of who we really are here to be. If we truly want to use our energetic power to manifest greatness, we must clear every block within us that keeps us from believing and sharing our greatness.
There are several underlying causes as to why we resist being dedicated, in every situation, to living authentically, but fear encompasses them all. The impulse to pretend to be someone we’re not comes down to a basic fear of being rejected. This step is about identifying what lives below the surface of your fears.
For instance, we may not want to go to a party because we think we don’t want to encounter someone or be there on our own. In this example, you would ask yourself, “What is underneath my fear of showing up at this party?”
How to identify the different types of fears:
>> There’s anxiety about being alone in the world—fear of separation.
>> There’s fear of not fitting into the group or the situation because of personality quirks—fear of rejection.
>> You could be afraid of looking weak or not having an answer for something—fear of failure.
>> You may be too rigid in your thinking to change because you’re concerned about having to give up something—fear of loss.
We also have fears of being disappointed and being a disappointment to others. We fear intimacy and commitment. We even fear abandonment and losing ourselves in relationships.
Anyone who experiences fear knows that there is almost always a story attached to whatever it is that you’re fearful of. Just like a weed in a garden—you can’t just cut it down. Above or below the surface it will grow back. An effective gardener knows they have to get into the dirt and pull the root out. In order to conquer fear, you have to figure out where the fear came from.
Fear is a question. What are you afraid of, and why?
Write down where you think the fear of not being the real you comes from. Try to understand and explain it as an outsider. Perhaps your fear stems from something that happened in your childhood or a deep-seated insecurity. Naming the source of the fear takes away some of its power.
Fear isn’t going to magically disappear. It requires our attention, our passion for truth, our love, our devotion, and our sincere desire for peace. Make it a priority, above all else, to investigate and inquire into your fears. Rinse and repeat a million times because each moment you bring conscious awareness to fear is a moment of freedom.
Step 3: Get more honest and authentic.
“Hiding your truth is like living in your own self-inflicted prison. Speaking truth sets you free.” ~ Gabby Bernstein
Honesty starts within. You can’t be honest and authentic with those around you if you’re not honest with yourself first. And if you want your family, friends, and the people you know to accept you as you—the real genuine, authentic you—you have to begin with your own emotional honesty, openness, and vulnerability.
You must admit your truth to yourself before you can speak about it. Give yourself full permission to write freely about what you feel, what you need, and what you’ve been through. Don’t be afraid to use words like addiction, abuse, and mental illness. Take away the stigma for yourself.
Next, choose the person you trust the most to accept honesty from you. See how it feels to release what you’re holding in. Tell them how you feel, what you miss, what you fear, and how you are.
Every single day, we are presented with situations where we find ourselves being asked something and we choose to say an answer that makes us look better.
We are not being honest and authentic when we control our actions in order to micromanage another’s reaction. When we gather the courage to share what we truly feel and think with grace and tact, we open the door for others to reciprocate by sharing honestly.
For a few days, try rehearsing authentic conversations with random people.
When someone asks how you are, tell them. Instead of responding with the habitual, “I’m great,” share something more genuine. Such as, “Honestly, I’m having a difficult time today, but I’m working through it.”
Then begin the practice of having honest conversations with low-stake relationships. Start by casually asking them more sincere, curious questions about themselves. You are simply inquiring about them to discover the things you have in common. This practice opens the door for you to feel comfortable sharing more superficial information, like your hobbies and interests. From there, you may feel inspired to add more personal details.
Step 4: Welcome the “assignment” to be more authentic.
Every one of us has a universal assignment on this God-given earth to become who we truly are. Every relationship, every encounter, offers divine opportunities to strengthen personal growth and development, improve communication skills, and understand the true power of being your authentic self in every aspect. This step is about welcoming the life assignments that come your way and staying committed to connecting to your authentic truth. Have faith that there are no coincidences, and as it says in A Course in Miracles, “no one is sent to anyone by accident.”
Everyone has struggles, fears, hopes, and dreams. Being able to share all of who you are, including those things that both trouble and inspire you, is both freeing and fulfilling. You may come to find this person will help you through a significant change. Or perhaps the experience will teach you something that will serve you on your healing path.
Continuously recite this prayer to stay grounded in your truth, “Today I focus my attention on showing up as my authentic self. I am ready to feel free and there is nothing sexier than my authentic truth.”
Remember, prayer provides us a way out. Trust that this small prayer will give you all the intuition, wisdom, and clarity to know what to say and when to say it.
Step 5: Trust that you’re always being guided.
Each of us has the option of deciding to trust that we are truly being supported by the Universe. That even challenging situations are all opportunities to evolve our spirit toward love, connection, and genuine happiness toward ourselves and others. It’s an incredible feeling to know that you’re being guided and that things are really happening for a reason. There is always a lesson that can be learned from everything.
Trust comes from practice and focus.
This is what it means to trust that you are always being guided:
>> Continuously staying in conversation and creating a dialog with the Universe about everything going on in your life.
>> Asking for direction and guidance on how to proceed in the present moment.
>> Listening to your intuitions.
>> Believing that any synchronicities (or signs) you may see must be a sure sign that you are aligned with what is the highest good for you.
>> Journaling the spiritual proof that you see that you are being guided.
Instead of seeking some person, place, or thing to make us whole, we must learn to trust in the guidance that is freely available to us from the Universe. Each day brings us a chance to celebrate the miracles of being who we truly are.
I can attest that the Universe will do for you what you cannot do for yourself. All the greatest healing I’ve experienced in my life has come from an experience that the Universe placed in front of me and not something that I made happen.
Pay attention to what happens every time you make the conscious decision to be authentic in the present moment. You’ll be surprised at what you’re guided to next. The Universe organizes things, so we receive little hints and clues to point us in the direction we need to be going. Once we step on that path and follow, more will follow!
All the things that you think you need to be, all the pretenses you’ve built up around yourself, no one even wants it. We have the tools and presence of mind available to us to make our journey to authenticity a daily practice.
It is a moment-by-moment choice of embracing your truth and being fearless enough to share it with the world. On the path to authenticity, the important thing to remember is that we constantly need to be asking ourselves the hard questions that decide the kind of lives we lead—like, “What am I hiding? What am I lying about? What truth will set me free?”
When you have nothing to hide and you can freely be yourself with everyone, I promise, you will come to know profound peace and confidence that only comes from being the real, genuine you.
As a final thought, I’ll leave you with this quote from Eckhart Tolle:
“Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free.”