How often do you not say or do something because you're worried about how it'll be perceived? For most of us, myself included, this happens more often then we'd like to admit.
We live in a culture that is starving for authenticity. We want our leaders, our co-workers, our family members, our friends, and everyone else we interact with to tell us the truth and to be themselves. Most important, we want to have the personal freedom and confidence to say, do, and be who we really are, without worrying so much about how we appear to others and what they might think or say about us.
Sadly, however, even though we may say we want to live in a way that is true to our deepest passions, beliefs, and desires, most of us don't and it's not that easy. We've been taught by our parents, teachers, spouses, friends, co-workers, politicians, the media, and others that it's more important to be liked and to fit in than it is to be who we truly are. In addition, many of us assume that who we are is not good enough, and therefore we're constantly trying to fix ourselves, or to act like others who we think are better than us.
However, as the famous 19th century author and poet, Oscar Wilde, so brilliantly stated, "Be yourself, everyone else is already taken."
What it Really Means to Be Authentic
Authenticity is about enjoying a new sense of freedom to be who we really are -- ourselves, natural and without a mask in our relationships, our work, and our life. It takes courage, commitment, and depth to:
Look within ourselves.
Tell the whole truth (even when we don't want to).
Admit, own, and share our true thoughts, feelings, desires, insecurities, passions, embarrassment, dreams, and more.
However, being open and real about all of these things (and more) is what it means to be authentic in life.
Five Principles for Being Your Authentic Self
In order to utilize the power of authenticity in your life as a way to enhance your relationships, increase your fulfilment, and empower yourself, here are five key principles:
1) Know Yourself -- Make a commitment to your own personal growth. Discover more of who you are. And, seek out and allow the support, honest feedback, and guidance of others.
2) Transform Your Fear -- There's nothing wrong with having fear; it's the resistance and denial of fear that is the real problem. When you admit, own, feel, and express your fear, you have the ability to move through it, transform it, and utilize its power in a positive way. Taking action in the face of fear is courageous and empowering.
3) Express Yourself -- Have the courage to speak your truth boldly. Deal with conflicts directly. Express your emotions fully. Be vulnerable and real about what you think and how you feel. While on the surface you may worry that this will be seen as "weak"; in actuality, expressing yourself completely gives you access to real freedom and power.
4) Be Bold -- Live, speak, and act with courage, passion, and truth -- even if it's difficult or scary. Go for what you want in your work and in your life. And get back up when you fall down, which you will.
5) Celebrate Who You Are -- Appreciate and honour who you are, what you do, and the gifts and talents that you have. Celebrating yourself is not about being arrogant. It's an awareness of your own power, and it's the key to self-confidence, fulfilment, and authenticity.
Being your authentic self is not for the faint of heart, but once you're willing to truly engage and do the work to become more real, your life, your work, and your relationships will be more exciting, meaningful, and fulfilling!