10 Ways To Develop Authentic Self
Very young children exude authenticity. They speak their minds, express their emotions
generously, and radiate tremendous energy. They are comfortable in their own skin
and delight in their own uniqueness and that of others. We can’t help but be drawn
to these wonderful qualities.
Over time, life has a way of chipping away at our authenticity. The world continually
bombards us with messages about how we must behave in order to be accepted. Our
parents teach us the things we have to do to be a “good” boy or girl. The media
tells us how to dress, what to eat, and how to be “cool.” What’s “in fashion” changes
constantly, so it's hard work to keep up.
This sea of influence around us makes it all to easy to lose touch with ourselves.
Do you still know exactly what you like and don’t like? Do you still feel comfortable
voicing your opinions openly? Do you dress in ways that feel right to you? Or are
you so out of touch with yourself that you automatically transform yourself to gain
There certainly is no shame in wanting to fit in or to belong. It is a very human
need that runs deep within all of us. For those who have been hurt by others, acceptance
may be exactly what we need to start healing. However, the danger is that when we
regularly sacrifice our true selves for this acceptance, we start to live a lie.
As with all lies, they take a tremendous amount of energy to sustain.
Putting a false self out there day after day drains you emotionally, physically,
and spiritually. “Faking it” over and over can lead to deep sadness, feelings of
emptiness, and a sense of being alone. Sadly, the fear of rejection can keep your
true self imprisoned within you. By living inauthentically, we all support a “cookie
cutter” culture where none of us really feel free to express the real person within
Finding Your True Self
To experience life fully, you must get back in touch with your real self. Start
by asking yourself some very basic questions, such as:
*Who am I when no one else is around?
*Who am I when others are present?
*What is most important to me?
*Do I behave in ways that reflect my values?
*Do I typically express my true feelings?
*When do I feel most comfortable showing up as myself?
*When do I have a tendency to run and hide? Why?
*What price do I pay when I’m not real?
*When do I feel energized?
*If I could be myself all the time, what would my life look like?
Answers to these questions can give you important clues about how much work it will
take to excavate your true self. For some people, the real self has been hurt so
early in life that their work is less about excavation and more about having a chance
to develop an authentic self in the first place.
Certainly, learning to express your true self takes courage and involves some emotional
risk. Not everyone will be comfortable with the “real” you. You may lose some relationships
in the process, but most likely you will find that these are relationships that
tend to drain you anyway.
10 Ways to Develop Authenticity
Try these tips for developing the real you:
1. Risk telling a friend or loved one what you really think next time you are asked
2. When you are with a group that is trying to make a decision, let your true choice
3. Find a safe way to practice expressing your real thoughts and feelings, such
as in a journal or to your pet.
4. Think of one thing you’ve never told anyone else and share it with someone who
is usually supportive of you.
5. Make a list of your core values and determine if your life reflects them.
6. Do more of the things that bring energy into your life.
7. Take some quiet time to meditate or reflect, so you can be more in touch with
your inner voice.
8. Develop a talent you have secretly wished you had.
9. The next time a friend or family member asks you how you are doing, tell them
10. Accept people that seem a little different. They may be working on being themselves,
just like you.
The rewards of authenticity are having integrity, a sense of serenity, and abundant
energy for the things that you love most!
The interesting thing is that the more authentic you are willing to be, the more
you will draw other authentic people to your life as well. Being part of a community
of people who are willing to be real with one another frees everyone up to focus
on what is truly important in their lives.
For Further Reading