12 Tips for How to Be Your Authentic Self.
There is a famous saying which goes “be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Sometimes, this is easier said than done. In a society that promotes conformism, it can sometimes be difficult to break out of the mold to be your authentic self. Unfortunately, not living authentically has its own downsides; the more you fight your true nature, the less happy you will be.
By giving yourself room to live as your authentic life, you are not only creating the life you want to live, but you are opening yourself up to joy and love. As a more global benefit, being yourself inspires others to be themselves, too.
What does it mean to be “authentic”? Let’s take a moment to discuss what it means to be “authentic”. Being authentic means being true to your nature and pursuing the life you want to live. Because of this, people can live authentically in all sorts of different ways, and in all sorts of different places.
Perhaps, for you, being authentic means being an executive wearing a suit and tie every day. Or maybe it means living a quiet life off the grid, growing your own food. Or maybe it means living as a freelance writer-yoga instructor-cooking instructor, making ends meet with a myriad of different interesting part time jobs. There is no one definition of what “authentic” is; it’s something that is different for everyone.
What if I don’t know who my authentic self is? It’s very possible that you’ve been conforming for so long, or living up to societal standards, that you don’t even have a clue who the authentic you is anymore. While this can be frustrating, it’s also completely normal. It’s a good sign that you recognize that you are having trouble defining your authentic self, because this means that you get to enjoy all of the romance of discovering it.
12 tips for how to be your authentic self. These tips are designed to help you find, and to be, your authentic self. Perhaps just one or two will ring true for you, or maybe each of the tips will have something to offer.
- Take long walks. Taking long walks, be it in nature or in an urban setting, can help us remember what a big, awe-inspiring, and beautiful place the world can be. Walking in nature and feeling a connection can inspire a spiritual practice and mindfulness; walking in an urban setting and observing people can help you define how you’d like to fit into the world. Either way, taking long walks acts as a grounding practice, reminding you of your place in the world.
- Cultivate a daily meditation practice. By taking a few minutes each day to sit in quiet meditation, you will give your mind a chance to rest, and quiet truths may begin to reveal themselves to you. Think meditation is only for yoga instructors and hippies? You’re wrong. Even famous people meditate! Media mogul Russell Simmons is a great example: the multi-millionaire credits meditation as one of his personal keys to remaining happy, sane, and grounded.
- Try pranayama. Prana-what? Pranayama is the word assigned to breathing exercises; if you’ve ever been to a yoga class, you’ve probably experienced a few different types of controlled breathing. By adjusting your breath through concentration, you bring added oxygen to your entire body, which helps all of your organs work better, helps your nervous system relax, and helps your body relax. The overall effect is that you feel more calm and centered in your everyday life, and are better able to maintain your calm through times of stress.
- Visit your family. There is a funny quote from Ram Dass that goes “if you think you are enlightened, go spend a week with your family”. Our families inspire love, and sometimes maddening frustration, but they can serve to remind us of who we are and where we come from. It’s typically easier to be “yourself” with your family, where there is no need for facades. Observe yourself when you are with your family: what about letting yourself be at ease feels good?
- Remember who you wanted to be when you were young. When you were young, did you dream of being a writer, an astronaut, an ambulance driver? Take the time to revisit your childhood dreams to see if there is something that has been missing in your life. Even if it might not be in the cards to become a veterinarian, you can volunteer at an animal shelter and allow that animal presence in your life, for instance.
- Take up yoga. Yoga is a form of meditative exercise, linking breath and movement. The benefits of yoga are many, and include being more present, improving the mind-body connection, and greater self awareness. These things can be extremely beneficial in both discovering your authentic self, and living authentically.
- Learn something new. Living authentically doesn’t just have to mean accepting the status quo. Expanding your horizons and growing as a person is a way to live your authentic life. Whether it’s taking French lessons at the community college or trying out Crossfit for the first time, trying new things can help you discover what you like. Even the things that don’t work out as super fun can inform you what you don’t want in your life!
- Create art. Creating art is a beautiful way to express your authentic self and relish in the journey of discovery. Whether it’s collage art using other people’s imagery, drawing, painting, or even using pencils or crayons to fill in coloring books, creating art is a great way to help live authentically.
- Journal. Journaling can be a powerful practice in many ways. If journaling to let out your feelings, you can really begin to identify what you feel and how and when you feel it. Even by keeping a more simple log of what goes on in a day and how you feel, you can begin to identify what is making you happy and what things are not serving you. Inviting more of what makes you joyful, and cutting out things that are not, you will be more likely to live in an authentic way.
- Challenge yourself. Step out of your comfort zone. If you are the type of person who always says “yes”, try saying no when you are stretched too thin, even if it feels difficult. If you tend to be a loner, try saying “yes” to a social engagement, even when it feels more comfortable to decline. You may be rewarded by challenging yourself in these ways, and you may discover more about yourself by not defaulting to your usual behaviors.
- Take time to consider what makes you happy. This is a fun one: make a list of the things that you know absolutely make you happy. Just let it be free form! By making lists of the things you love, it can remind you of who you are and how you can find delight and joy in life.
- Surround yourself with people who you consider authentic. People who live authentically are usually easy to identify: they feel comfortable in their own skin, they are passionate about life and what they do, they are interested in the world. Surround yourself with people who you view as living authentically. We are the sum of who we surround ourselves with, so maybe some of that authenticity will rub off on you!
Conclusion: Finding and embodying the authentic self is a highly individual journey, but it is well worth exploring. By living authentically, you will live a more full and joyful life. These tips are meant to help you on your path so that you can open your heart and show your true self to the world!
What does living authentically mean to you?