What if I told you I know someone who has the ability to make you perfectly happy for the rest of your life? You'd want to meet them, right?!
Now what if I told you that that person...is you?
Your Authentic Self knows precisely what you are longing for in order to live your best life. And it is high time you got to know her!
Think of your Authentic Self as the you-est version of you. She is your natural tendencies, your hard-wired personality, and your unyielding personal preferences. She is the part of you that always wants salty over sweet, prefers dinner and a movie over a night out bar-hopping, and would choose Ryan Gosling over Ryan Reynolds any day of the week. Your Authentic Self is the part of you that loves what she loves and wants what she wants, and she knows precisely how to get it for you (if you let her).
Unfortunately though all too often, the voice of your Authentic Self frequently gets drowned out by the Good Girl; by all the "shoulds", "have-tos", and "gottas" in your head. Here's how to shut the "shoulds" up and make your Authentic Self your new BFF:
1. Be a good zoo-keeper.
When your physical self is content it's easier to connect with your Authentic Self. Our bodies are essentially animals, so be a good zoo-keeper to your animal. Feed it food it enjoys, keep it well hydrated, and offer it regular access to it's preferred environment. A happy body creates a strong link to your Authentic Self.
2. Listen to your body.
Because your body is an animal, it cannot lie to you. Your body always knows when you are living authentically and when you're not. Think of a time when you felt you had to do something even though you didn't want to. How did your body feel during that time? People often report sensations of tension, stress, pressure.
Now think of time when your felt full of purpose, joy, and excitement. What did you feel in your body during that time? People often describe feeling open, expansive, and light-hearted. These two sets of physical sensations are how your body tells you when you are connected to your Authentic Self and when you are not. Heed those signals.
3. Shut The Should Up.
Sometimes societal pressures, cultural expectations, and our own internal "should"s cause us to forget or deny our Authentic Self. Make a practice of giving yourself permission to follow what you love instead of always doing what you're "supposed" to. The vacuuming will wait. Go and play already! Consistently choosing joy over "should" keeps you connected to your Authentic Self and creates a hot wire to happiness in your brain.
4. Try Not Trying.
After listeing to the "shoulds" for a long time it can sometimes be difficult to hear that small, quiet voice that knows what you actually want and love. Instead of trying to force your Authentic Self to speak up, try giving her a little space. Think of a physical activity that you enjoy but that requires a minimal amount of mental engagement: perhaps a walk by yourself, finishing that painting project you've been meaning to get to, or cooking a favourite dish. Choose an activity where your body is active but your mind is free to woolgather. Make space for your Authentic Self to quietly whisper her musings to you. Invite her out to play a little. What she has to say may surprise you.
5. Tell the truth.
This one can be tricky. To remain connected with your Authentic Self you must be willing to tell the truth. Many of us are afraid to tell our truth because we fear it will be unpopular. Start small. Start by telling the truth to yourself. It can start with something as small as simply stating your preference for dinner instead of just going along with what your friends want. Pay attention to how your body responds to that truth. See if you can come up with some teeny-tiny steps you can take towards living your truth.
6. Gather your tribe.
Donna Twitchell Roberts wrote, "A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words." One of the most loving ways to reconnect with yourself is to have kindred spirits around you who are able to remind you of who you are. Surround yourself with the people who value the real you, who really get you, and who understand your desire to reconnect with yourself.
There is only one person in this world who truly knows how to make you happy and that's you. So if you are looking to open yourself up to some serious joy, take the time to invest in your relationship with yourself. She's the one who knows where to find it.
(a version of this post originally appeared on MindBodyGreen)