For the past 3 years, there has been a large shift in focus in my life toward authenticity. We hear this a lot: “Be authentic.” In a nutshell, be authentic is the same as “be yourself” or, according to Merriam Webster, “true to one’s personality, spirit or character.”
Well, I’ve been on a journey to living my most authentic life and let me tell you, this one word is heavy and rich. What began my journey to authenticity was a conversation I had with an intuitive woman I didn’t even know. A colleague of mine ‘randomly’ told me about this woman in an off-handed manner on a day that I most needed that spark of hope. I had just gotten back to the office after yet another visit to a medical doctor who had no answers for why I was always feeling unwell, nauseous and lethargic. The cycle of feeling ill and feeling sad was perpetual; I didn’t know anymore if I was always sad because I was always ill or if I was always ill because I was always sad. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was that it had to stop.
I was able to hide this part of my life from my colleagues well; I could push through the day at work but then crashed on the couch in tears and no appetite when I got home. No appetite for dinner or for anything else enjoyable. So the fact that my colleague told me about her encounter with this intuitive woman without even knowing my situation took me aback and I heard myself ask for the name and number before I even knew I wanted to.
You can form your own conclusions about the role of an intuitive, his/her skill or whatever. I’m just sharing my own experience because it truly was a catalyst to at least understanding what it means to truly be who I am.
Meeting with this woman was like a door opening and revealing all kinds of wonderful treasures about a person I knew little about: myself. She taught me several things in the short time we were together. She taught me about the connection between my emotions, my mind and my body. She reminded me how much I love all kinds of art and especially writing. She said out loud what I already knew: that I was not living my life’s purpose. By this time in my journey I had already remembered how much I used to love writing. I just didn’t know that by not engaging in it I was actually feeling it in my body.
She taught me that my body is my best friend which was an important lesson for me. I had started to loathe this complex, mysterious body that seemed hell-bent on keeping me in a place of sadness. I then changed the way I looked at the situation and realized that by keeping myself in a place of sadness I was affecting my body.
I left her office with new ways of thinking that set me on this journey. In this post, I’m going to briefly look at what living authentically means to me.
- Living authentically means not lying – to myself or to anyone else. Relationships are only real if they are open, honest, forgiving, understanding and most importantly cherished. I must treat myself with the same respect that I treat others. That means that if something isn’t sitting right, I talk about it. If it involves another person, I talk about it with that person. If it is something I am doing (like maybe I’m bending over backward for someone who doesn’t treat me with respect) then I have a chat with myself and change my actions. This is not always easy – speaking up has never been easy for me. But I have seen what happens when people keep secrets, leave people out, talk behind people’s backs and disrespect people and I want no part of that, nor do I want to pass that down to my children. So I have made a pact with myself and have even formally made a pact with people in my life with whom I have needed to move forward in our relationship – it went basically like this “You don’t keep things from me, I don’t keep things from you. You got something to say – good or bad – say it to me and I’ll do the same.” Fake relationships are a sure-fire way to kill your authenticity. I started by honouring my relationship with myself and went from there.
- Living authentically means respecting my body’s needs and rhythms. My body needs fun, energy-boosting exercise and deep stretches. My body needs to be in bed by a certain time and is most productive at a certain time. I can alter my rhythm occasionally but if I want to really honour myself I need to follow the pattern I am most aligned with. I can’t expect to get the most mileage out of a vehicle if I trash it or don’t feed it the right fuel. Work in progress!
- Living authentically means being my biggest advocate. This doesn’t mean I have to do everything on my own. This means I have to ask for help when I need it. I do this very easily now. This is why I can do the things I want to do and still be sane. For me, certain things are non-negotiable. These are: writing, sharing my messages through coaching/workshops/speaking, non-profit work and raising my family. All of you can relate to the notion of a full plate. Mine’s quite full but I have chosen to enjoy every bite in front of me. The trick is that I’m the only one who knows what I need to be able to manage all of it and make sure nothing goes sliding off the plate or gets lodged in my throat as I try to scarf it down. So I ask for help and it all gets done. Having authentic relationships in my life has made that easier. I can now trust that when I ask someone for help, they will tell me honestly whether they can help me out. This eliminates my fear of people resenting me or shaking their head at me behind my back.
This is not an exhaustive explanation of what authenticity means to me but I’m done for now. For me, living authentically is an active work in progress about remembering who I truly am in my essence and living it – just being quirky, flighty, emotional, crazy ME!
I’d love to hear about your journey and your thoughts on authenticity!