We all know it's critical. We know we want it. We know it's beneficial. So why is it so hard to be authentic? I'm not talking about telling the truth; authenticity isn't about sayin-it-as-it-is. It's deeper than that. It's not near the surface; it's not so easy to grasp.
I think there in lies the challenge. Authenticity is deep within us, and to tap into it we need to go searching for it. Embracing and living out of our authenticity isn't like fishing. We can't lure it to us with bait. It's smarter than that. It's waiting for us to bring our whole self to the process. If we want to understand and experience our own authentic self, we have to jump into the water rather than stay in the boat with a fishing rod. Authenticity requires an all-in approach.
Here are four milestones along the journey of discovering and living out of our authenticity to help you navigate the way:
Be more self-aware, more often
It's amazing how easy it is to live life essentially on auto-pilot. While it clearly is an impressive think to be able to do, it doesn't lend itself to authenticity. Living on auto-pilot makes us more mechanical. To be more authentic in life, we have to live more naturally. That means we have to be self-aware. We have to make conscious choices, rather than just letting our subconscious call 90% of the shots in life.
Think about adding value to others, more than seeking it for yourself
To reach the level of our authentic self requires more than looking deep within. We also need to look deep without. While it may feel counter-intuitive, much of our authentic self is actually discovered within others. It is in the act of adding value to the lives of others that our own inner doors begin to open, and new ways to navigate within ourselves become possible.
Don't be so hard on yourself
Above all, living out of your authentic self will make you a more gracious person. It will empower you to let go of judgement and the pointing finger, and embrace a new way of viewing life, where you cover over other people's weaknesses and you choose to see through the lens of grace. On the journey to seeing others that way in the future, see yourself that way starting now.
Authenticity loves the now. It can appreciate how you dream and plan for the future, but it's great focus is in the present moment. If you feel you haven't yet discovered the fullness of your authentic self, try faking it till you make it. Sound like odd advice considering the subject matter, but taken in the right spirit I think it's valuable advice. Be playful with the idea and start practicing the above milestones on the journey, even if it doesn't feel so completely natural just yet.
Be self-aware | Add value to others | Give yourself grace | Be present.
One more thing. Smile.
While we are all prone to doubt it, I think we're all a lot closer to our authentic self than we realise. Sometimes, all it takes is a small pivot in thinking and some courage to do things a little differently.