We all would like to believe we are living as our truest, highest self, right? Yet, how sure are you that you are living an authentic life? Or, as some would say, “being real and not fake”, pretending to be someone or something you are not? In today’s society, inauthenticity is becoming more acceptable to the point it’s an expected form of entertainment overshadowing the essence of who a person was created to be.
After a while, it’s exhausting. Yet, it’s a way of fitting in, getting needs met, being seen, creating an identity for oneself, or running from something within that is uncomfortable or unaccepting to others. Regardless of the reason, in order to live a joy-filled, purposeful life, you have to be willing to know what it means to be real for real.
Being real vs. being fake
To be real or to live everyday from the core of our being is not hard at all. However, we are so bombarded with the expectations of media, advertisements, fashion designers, entertainers and other people’s opinions, one truly believes he or she is flawed, something is wrong and just maybe God made a mistake.
Let me be perfectly clear here, the Creator doesn’t make mistakes. The mistakes are the negative beliefs about oneself, the messages received from outside sources, and the thoughts that if something was different, it would erase the flaws, make you happier or fill the emptiness within.
“For we are HIs workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10New Kings James Version
As those unmerited beliefs, which are lies, manifest themselves within, we begin to lose sight or forget the unique, wonderfully complex Beings we were created to be. The purpose of who you are becomes blurred. The images, labels and behaviors of what we think is normal, beautiful, accepting and healthy moves us further from the reality of our true self to becoming an imitation of who we think we should be, a fake.
On Positivepsychology.com, Dr. Jeremy Sutton wrote “learning to live authentically is about understanding what it means to be real.” He goes on to say, “there has to be balance between what is occurring in us and how we express and represent ourselves outside.”
And I know this because…
Most of us have been around or fall into the category of those who exude authenticity and those who don’t, but think they do. Truthfully, we all fall somewhere on this spectrum. We’re either 100 percent living an authentic life, working our way there, or we’re not. You may be reading this because you’re trying to figure it out. What we interpret as being authentic will determine who we believe we are.
I know this because I’ve been an Early Childhood Educator for over 27 years and children begin to develop their sense of self-awareness around 1 ½ years old. It’s also around this age where the narrative of who they should be begins to take shape. Therefore, you cannot create the essence of who you are, the real you. It’s innate.
Also, I’ve heard others or I’ve said it myself, “I know I’m real because I’m confident, smart, and/or successful”; “I speak my truth”; or, “I am who I am and happy about it”, yet deep down, we really don’t know who we are, our actions show something different or the opposite of what was stated. Can I get an “amen?!” I’m just being real! LOL!
All jokes aside, the purpose of life is to know who you are; to love the true essence of who you are; to trust that who you are is enough; and to be who you were created to be. You were created in the image of God, and He made no mistakes.
“When we choose to live authentically, we chop away at others’ prisons of pretend and create opportunity for them to walk out of darkness into freedom.” ~Anthony Venn-Brown
Tips for living an authentic life
So how do you know when you’re being your truest, highest, authentic self?” Well, authenticity comes from within; from the essence of that young child who had no idea of judgment, criticism, dissatisfaction, or hate. It’s about tapping back into the innocence and love of who you were originally created to be.
You can cover up the love and innocence due to expectations or acceptance of self and others. You can lose touch with what it feels like because of trauma, past hurts, and other painful or fearful circumstances. Yet, the real you for real, is always there. It’s as unique as your fingerprint.
The most important ways to living an authentic life is to:
1. Strip away those layers of beliefs, perceptions, expectations, and ideals of who you are pretending to be or told you should be. This involves being truthful, which in turn causes you to be vulnerable. You cannot live an authentic life without it, truth that is.
2. Expose the raw essence of who you are without blame or shame. Get to know yourself beyond the surface. If you don’t know, find a professional, such as a life coach, who will guide you through the process of uncovering who you truly are, your beliefs, values, gifts, etc.
3. Embrace your uniqueness, your traits, your gifts and every part of your beautiful being both inside and out. Your power is within your one-of-a-kind, imperfect nature. When you see it, accept it, and love it for yourself, it’s easier to see, accept, and love the true essence of others.
4. Learn to control or recognize the negative thoughts about yourself or others, which will continue to show up; and, falling back into negative habits or behaviors and beliefs that go against who you are. Find ways to shift the negative to positive and focus on those things which reflect your values, strengths and gifts.
5. Practice gratitude daily. The more grateful we are the more content, compassionate and loving we become to ourselves and toward others. Your mind will begin to shift from fear or judgment to love and empathy.
To truly live a life of authenticity, to be real for real, is about having the clarity of who you are; believing in yourself; not comparing yourself to others or competing with them; recognizing and changing unhealthy beliefs and behaviors; and practicing humility. It may be challenging at first to shed what feels comfortable, but the reality of living your truth is the most freeing thing you can do for yourself.
There are so many people in this world wandering and wondering, trying to figure out where they fit in and asking themselves, “who am I?”; afraid of not being perfect or accepted and looking for answers from society. It’s time to stop striving for a better you and start accepting and living from the very essence of who you’ve always been.
Your most authentic self will always contain truth, joy and love.
“The highest thought is always that thought which contains joy. The clearest words are those which contain truth. The grandest feeling is that feeling which you call love. Joy, truth, love. These three are interchangeable and one always leads to the other” ~Neale Donald WalschConversations with God
“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:13-14 (NKJV)