Nowadays – especially in personal development circles – you’ll hear a lot about “authenticity.”
What does being authentic mean? To me, it means being true to yourself. It means not hiding the real you. It means not apologizing for who you really are.
Maybe you’re like me. I used to not be authentic. I used to not look people in the eye because I was afraid they’d judge me in some way. Think I was less or worse than them.
But the thing is, we’re all spiritual beings. Perfect beings of light and love. The human part of us may not be perfect. It may make mistakes. But spiritual us? That version is connected to the Universe. That version is connected to the divine. It’s not possible for our spiritual selves to be less than.
Much of my not being authentic when I was younger was due to a severe lack of confidence. I didn’t realize I was connected to the divine so I was afraid I was weird. Not as good as everybody else.
Which in hindsight is completely silly.
We’re all equally glorious, wonderful, made of love and light. We’re all precious in God’s sight.
So how did I start being authentic?
I was introduced to the truth of being a spiritual being in human form. I realized all the things I had been worrying about weren’t actually real. Or if they were real, they didn’t matter.
So what if I’m a geeky girl who’d rather stay in with a good book than hang out at a loud party? So what if I find Star Trek inspiring and watch every Star Trek show and movie? So what if I watch and thoroughly enjoy every comic book movie that comes out? That’s me. And there’s nothing wrong with me.
So what if I get passionate about things that matter to me like literacy and education? So what if I don’t watch news because I find it depressing? I always get informed about the important things one way or the other. So what if I enjoy walking in nature and saying hi to the deer and squirrels I see. So what if I talk to my cats? They are my babies after all.
As long as I am kind and compassionate and loving in everything I do, my quirks are fine. In fact, they’re better than fine – they’re fabulous. “I am as I am,” as Popeye would say.
I care about so many things – everyone’s health, and the environment and wildlife. I know that the Universe supports me in everything I do, even if I curse once in a while. Even if I get annoyed at work. Even if I forget that thing at the store I went there specifically to get.
To me, being authentic is committing to becoming a better version of myself and congratulating myself and being proud when I succeed in doing it.
For example, I’m so proud of not eating at night anymore. I’m proud that I’ve learned how to listen to my body and give it the healthy foods and exercise it needs.
I’m proud that I take care of my health by going to the doctor, dentist or chiropractor when I need to. I’ve committed to improving my health and all my readings show this. My body shows this. My fitness, strength and endurance have improved so much just because I walk every day.
And I do. I walk in the 100 degree heat, in the rain and the cold. I’m looking forward to walking in the snow soon.
And I walk no matter what because I decided I was worth it. I don’t give myself a choice – I simply go for a walk without question. Healthy habits make me feel confident. They make me feel like I’m being true to myself. That I’m taking care of myself. Authentic.
Another way that I’m being more authentic is in loving myself. When I first began this lovely journey, I didn’t love myself much.
I overate daily – to the point of feeling miserable about being obese. I put myself down all the time. I remember thinking it was charming to be so self-deprecating, but now I strongly disagree.
I would call myself an f***ing stupid idiot. I would think of myself as weak and clumsy. I would think I was incapable of doing things just because they were difficult.
It’s not cute to laugh and say, “Yeah, I really suck at saving money or relationships or cooking” or whatever else, especially if it makes you feel bad. Negative self talk, whether you’re speaking to others or not, leads to you actually believing what you say. You make it your reality.
So when I left teaching and had difficulty finding a new position, all my complaining about there not being any jobs certainly didn’t help.
So being authentic, I’ve changed my self talk dramatically. One way I’ve really improved how I feel about myself is to picture the spiritual version of myself hugging me and saying, “I love you so much!”
It may sound kinda kooky, but one, I don’t care and two, it totally works. Whenever I’m feeling bad or grumpy or tired, I picture my other me hugging me and saying I love you so much.
I also do it anytime I think about it – when I’m feeling good, on my way to work, when I’m at home. Doing this has so improved my relationship with myself, that it’s easier to commit to doing the right things for me – whether that’s exercising and watching what I eat, or just not lifting something heavy without getting help. I’ve realized that we only get one body, and I want to take care of mine.
I’m no longer willing to lie to myself, for example. Yesterday, a lady brought some donuts to work. In the past, I would’ve been all over them. I decided I didn’t want any when another co-worker told me about them.
But then I found one wrapped in a napkin on my desk. I knew the lady who’d brought the donuts had put this one aside for me. But still, I should’ve put it back.
Instead, I ate it. Halfway through, I knew it was a mistake. I stopped before I finished the whole thing. While it tasted like a good donut should taste, I’ve been reducing the amount of sugar and flour I eat.
Maybe my tastes are beginning to change or maybe I just realized how bad eating foods like this are for me, but I immediately regretted it. I felt yucky. I felt gross, like I wasn’t taking care of myself. The main thought that stuck with me was the word “ick.”
And sure enough, it didn’t satisfy me. I felt hungry – like ravenously hungry – within a couple of hours. When I eat healthy foods (which I consider high in healthy fats, along with lots of veggies and fruits), I don’t feel hungry for a long time. I feel good. I’m giving my body what it needs.
So now, I know better. And unless I plan specifically for a special occasion – like some pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving – I’m committed to not doing that again. And I can trust that I won’t because I am true to myself. I love myself. And because of that, I’m authentic about what I will and won’t do.
In one of her recent brilliant podcasts, Life Coach Brooke Castillo used this awesome metaphor: we don’t have to play with the cards we were dealt. At any time, we can fold that hand and pick up a brand new one.
How fascinating is that?
Much of my life I’ve heard people say you have to play with the cards you were dealt, but that’s such a lie! We have free choice and free will. We can choose to change our cards – our lives – whenever we want!
Isn’t that refreshing?
Isn’t that empowering to know?
So to conclude this podcast, I’m going to share my favorite quotes about authenticity:
- “Don’t trade authenticity for approval.”
- “Authenticity equals the courage to be yourself.”
- “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” Brene Brown
- “The Universe cannot resist authenticity.”
- “When you’re your authentic self, you have no competition.”
- “I had no idea being my authentic self would make me as rich as I am. If I had, I would’ve done it a lot sooner.” Oprah Winfrey
- “We are constantly invited to be who we are.” Henry David Thoreau
- “Authenticity: knowing who you are and being brave enough to live it.”
Mentioned in this episode on authenticity:
Thanks for reading/listening!
Need help finding some writing inspiration? Click here!