“Everything will line up perfectly when knowing and living the truth becomes more important than looking good.” ~ Alan Cohen
I’m opening with this quote for two reasons: 1) I love it! and; 2) It is the most frequently linked/copied image from any of my posts.
Back in mid-June I wrote a piece about Opinion versus Judgment . In the spirit of that post, I’d like to express an opinion about being authentic: Let’s stop all of the “image management.” It’s exhausting, stressful and the exact opposite of authenticity. I have been there and let me reassure you that trying so very hard to be liked, loved, forgiven and accepted, when you are not being authentic yourself, only leads to discouragement and depletion of self.
Let’s first recognize that an authentic voice is that quiet, persistent messenger who speaks to your intuition, telling you what is right for you and what you really need. Fairly simple, right? Yet being authentic means being yourself 24/7 and sometimes that isn’t easy. While it may be easy to stay in your comfort zone, finding the courage to be who you really are (I know, I emphasize this often), will help you realize your true potential. So how will you know you are being authentic? You will feel happy, expanded, optimistic, and relaxed. Whereas feeling restricted or contracted is a sign that you are shutting down and not being as authentic as you can be.
Being authentic begins from an assumption that many things are fake or not entirely real, genuine, sincere, or original. What we value in western culture and ourselves reveals much about our lifestyle, marketing, and communication attitudes. What we demonstrate in our ‘being’ speaks volumes about our alignment with values. But there is another facet that we overlook when we consider being authentic and that is intimacy.
Where authenticity is an ability to accurately share what is going on in our hearts and minds, intimacy is the level to which we share those things. It has to do with how far into our hearts and minds we let other people see. Authenticity is about clarity and definition. Intimacy is about depth.
A challenge, then, to being authentic is not understanding the layers involved in getting to know people. Most of us have layers; it’s how we protect and honor ourselves. But it’s the layers (the masks that hide the true self underneath) that seem inauthentic. Foundational to my work is establishing trust and intimacy with a client. Discovering what ‘lies beneath’ is something one has to want and another has to earn the right to see. When permission is given to peel back layers, exploring who the authentic you is – almost always yields new awareness, greater freedom, and a more inspired you.
So how can you begin to be your even more ‘authentic self?’ Here are three ideas:
Be a friend in real-time. Rarely does intimacy occur on Facebook or Twitter. If there is no face-to-face interaction in your relationships, intimacy doesn’t have space to grow. Go ahead and check with your friends in the digital space, but also create time to be a friend in real life. Invest in your true self, not in your cyber self.
- Disregard the cynics. This is an important factor in being true to yourself. Being you is much more attractive than creating a false image so others are satisfied.
- Align with yourself. In which direction are your feet walking? Are they walking toward what is passionate in your heart? If they’re not, can you justify why?
As long as you keep being you, as long as you keep staying true to yourself and who you are, it doesn’t matter what others think of you. What matters is that you are living in your truth and the people who need you will find you. And you will find the people you need.