We hear all the time how important it is to live an authentic life – to live your values and true to yourself, despite what others say. Many of us read these self-help books and blogs, telling us to stop living up to other’s expectations and to find ourselves.
It sounds all well and good, but easier said than done, right?
Well, what if we have no idea who we are? What if we have some serious external pressures that may keep us from running off and joining the circus (as much as Barnum may be calling us, the family may not appreciate being abandoned)?
Those are no excuses. It is possible for everyone to live an authentic life.
1. Take baby steps
Sometimes, we make the assumption that living an authentic life means casting off the old life and creating a whole new one, aka the “one we were meant to have.” Sure, you can just join the circus but for most us, this drastic change is not only impractical, but also, is an act of running away. Living a life we are meant to have can still happen without a total rehaul. It doesn’t have to happen all at once. Take small steps. Maybe it’s stopping a bad habit. Maybe it’s dedicate time and resources to what was a hobby. Maybe it’s being more forthcoming with an individual in your life. Baby steps. Soon you’ll be running your life.
2. Be 100% confident in being unconfident
Living authentically does not mean that you know exactly where you are headed, when, and why. Most people have no clue. It’s fine not to have a clear picture of what your life could be in a year or two. Just be confident in knowing that making the changes you want to see happen is the first step (see above) and all else will follow. It takes a great deal of courage to be confident in the unknown. Having the knowledge that you will know what to do and make the appropriate decision when the time comes will give you all the confidence you need – even if you don’t know exactly what the future holds.
3. Take off the masks
We all wear masks. Our masks protect our true selves and feelings, but the more we wear these the masks, the more we forget how we really look like underneath. Start shedding them first in situations and with people you feel most comfortable. Then start shedding the rest, one by one. Be consistent with whom you are in all situations (you’re wise and mature enough to comport yourself according to the decorum dictated). You’ll not only discover unmasking yourself more freeing and less scary than you think, but people will respond better. Plus, you’ll breathe easier.
4. Call upon support
Just as young children are unafraid to ask for help, don’t be afraid to call on your support systems. Many of us start pushing away support more and more the older we get, not wanting to bother others with our “issues” or getting too busy to reach out to friends. But as life gets more complicated, you need your support even more. Talk to them. Ask your support to be there for you and help remind you of why living authentically is so critical to your life. They will be there to help anchor you in those times when you need one the most.
5. Live presently
Some of us dwell on the past, some of us worry about the future. In so doing, we live a life based on things that have already passed or may or may not pass. As such, we forget to live authentically and presently. By making the best decisions we can with the information we have in front of us, we must trust that things will work out. That’s all we can do. We can only control for what is immediate, and that allows us to live more fully in the present. Only then can we begin to carve an authentic life.
This was first published on www.Hummingbirdrcc.com.
Dr. Belinda Chiu is a social change strategist, coach, and facilitator. Like you, she believes that everyone has the transformational ability to reach their potential and beyond. Dr. Chiu incorporates a practice of mindfulness to help individuals harness their natural strengths, achieve results, and carve their own paths towards professional fulfillment. She writes regularly on her website, Hummingbird research coaching consulting.
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