Living Authentically: The Courage to Be Yourself

We’ve heard this phase ‘living an authentic life’ quite often now and I was intrigued about what this meant. So I decided to do a bit of research and found out that living authentically essentially means being true to one’s true self and know themselves inside out. Authenticity simply means embracing who you really are, at your very core, and acting in accordance to your own values and beliefs. Being authentic means coming from a real place within, when actions and words are congruent with beliefs and values. An authentic life involves following one’s passion and being intimately connected to our natural abilities, strengths, and talents. Authenticity may come at a cost, yet it typically leads to a richer, more complete life

Living authentically is not stagnant, it is constantly shifting and taking on new forms. We need to be continually learning about ourselves, challenging old beliefs, letting go of baggage we hold, learn to face and overcome fears and doubts. We need to reach deep inside ourselves and find out what makes us tick, what makes us happy, what makes our spirits soar and our heart just grow large, so we can find that part of ourself that is alive, free and unburdened and once we find that, have the courage to live that life. Authentic living requires us to embrace the reality of our freedom and be responsible for how we choose to live.

I personally believe that being authentic and living an authentic life comes about more as one grows older and hopefully wiser, one learns more about their own true self and starts to become more authentic. When one is younger, you tend to become influenced by your parents, family, peers, friends and what you see and read, both online and offline and to a very large extent, this influences your thinking, ideas and even hopes and aspirations with regard to life.

A way to reach our authentic self is to let go from the past and be grounded into the present because it is only then we can be open, curious and accepting of ourselves and others. Also how we perceive our authenticity is a crucial aspect of who we are. Not only does it significantly influence the pleasure we derive from our experiences, but it also affects our judgment and behavior across all aspects of our life. Authenticity and living a complete and fulfilling life are processes rather than outcomes. Living authentically involves moving in a direction that is most authentic to us as individuals.

Modern technology which is so intrusive and intimately connected to all aspects of contemporary existence, can also impact authentic living. As wearable technology continues to revolutionise the health, wellness, and sports sectors, providing previously unknowable biometric information to the general population, they offer, sometimes doubtful promises to enhance users’ lives.

In the long term, putting on an inauthentic front is tiring and ultimately damaging to our mental and physical wellbeing. So how do we go about learning to live an authentic life?

  • We need to become more aware of what is happening within ourselves, both physically and mentally. A stiff neck may be linked to what is going on in the mind, feelings, thoughts, and difficult decisions.
  • Give up the act of living according to what others expect you to act and do. Living a compartmentalised life and presenting a different version of yourself to different people is extremely draining. Live in line with your values and set clear standards for yourself from which you will not deviate from. Then when you stop pleasing everyone, you can achieve true authenticity.
  • We need to start listening to the inner voice rather than losing it in the noise of others’. Learn to listen to your hopes, dreams, and fears and when I say listen, I mean to really listen to what they are and how you will be able to achieve it.
  • Learn to be comfortable with being vulnerable because there is no authenticity where there is no truth, and there is no truth where there is no vulnerability. Honesty and openness are the oxygen for authenticity to thrive and there is no genuineness without a candid dose of reality first.
  • Know yourself inside out, what you are good at, what you are prepared to do, and what you are not. Face up to the truths of who you are. Honesty is not always pleasant, but it has the potential to free you. Be yourself; be honest and transparent in your dealings. People like and are drawn to those they perceive as sincere and genuine and distrust those who are not.
  • In the same vien, own yourself and your truths. Don’t let others push you into their way of thinking, but also don’t stick to views when you are proved wrong or they no longer work for you. Take responsibility for your choices.
  • Focus on the experiences and connections and not on possessions. Relations, especially meaningful relationships add a value to life that the fleeting and ephemeral value of belongings can’t touch. Ultimately, it all boils down to meaning, possessions only have meaning because of the value ascribed to them. When the tastes or standards change, as they are prone to, the meaning associated with the objects shifts. Long story short, there are very few tangible things that add any real value to life, but investing in people pays significant dividends over time.  Life is about experiences and memories, laughter and love, happiness and healing. But none of those things have any meaning without other people. Our legacy will be the lives we touch and the love we leave behind, everything else all fades away with the sands of time. Building a more authentic life means focusing on what matters.
  • Humility and authenticity go hand in hand. As babies, we don’t brag about our achievements, it’s only as we grow up and our egos start to develop, that we start using our achievements to brag about how important we are. To live a more authentic life, approach everything through the lens of humility and curiosity. Become an explorer, feeling your way through the twists and turns of the jungle that is your journey. It all starts with your willingness to take a step back and cultivate modesty.
  • If you want to live a more authentic life, you’ll have to ditch all that made you comfortable living an inauthentic life to begin with. And that means shifting your priorities. Instead of operating based on the expectations of others, learn to trust your own intuition instead. Charting your own course and blazing your own trail can indeed be scary. But at least you’ll know it serves you best because you trust your own instincts. And that’s what genuineness is all about.
  • Act, don’t react, you can’t live an authentic life if you’re constantly riding on the coattails of what other people are doing.  Instead of following along, take the lead. Instead of living according to everyone else’s expectations, embrace your intuition.
  • Embrace your imperfections. One of the reasons people tend to struggle with authenticity is because they strive for perfection. But perfection is elusive because the bar always gets raised. People tend to drive themselves crazy trying to tweak every little thing about their lives. Accept the messiness and complexity of your reality, that’s what makes for an authentic life.

To check if you are living an authentic life ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you feel free to make your own choices?
  • Can you express your own views and opinions?
  • Are you able to yourself on a day-to-day basis?

If the answer is No to any of the questions, then reflect on them and also think about this – is this because you are not being true to who you really are?

Also, for those who are parents or will become parents, love your children unconditionally, this means the love is not conditional and does not depend on how the child lives up to a parent’s expectations. Doing this will eventually lead to voices in the head which are constantly critisising and pulling the child down, even when they grow up to become adults.

To live an authentic life, be open to new opportunities and experiences, seek new challenges, and transform the anxiety that forces you to hide into enthusiasm. Engagement can be one of the most positive paths to authenticity. To be real, one must follow their passions while remaining tied intimately to who they are, reflecting their strengths and virtues.

The formula to living authentically is this: Know yourself + Own yourself + Be yourself = The Authentic Life

2 thoughts on “Living Authentically: The Courage to Be Yourself

  1. I too believe that authenticity does tend to come with age. Maybe you care less about what other people think when you get older. Anyway, this was a great post. Thanks for sharing!

    • Absolutely! The older I get, the less likely I am to worry about what others think. But in retrospect, I wish I thought of this when I was younger, it would have saved me a lot of heartaches. Maybe our youngsters learn this lesson which took us so long to understand.

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