How To Be Authentic

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

So, now you know what authenticity means to you. Great. Now, how do you apply that to your life? Here are a few things I do in my life to keep it real.

Eat Breakfast. In the morning, I eat breakfast. Something that fuels my brain. Sometimes it’s eggs, sometimes oatmeal, sometimes a bowl of bran flakes. But I always eat breakfast. This brain fueling allows me to be alert and awake. It allows me to be prepared for whatever happens throughout my day that could potentially derail me.
*Bonus. In addition to breakfast, I also make it a point to eat a good size lunch and a small dinner, with a couple of small snacks fitted between each. This keeps my metabolism going strong, which helps my brain process food more efficiently, and thus helps me be more me.

Unclutter. I recently read Unclutter Your Life In One Week by Erin Doland, which sparked a change in the way I gather “things” in my home. Her methodical approach to uncluttering both home and office areas, force me to ask myself often, “Is this something I really want?” This gets me thinking about the things that actually matter to me versus impulse actions that please me for just a moment or that are meant to impress others. I really think about the items and people I have in my life before I invite them in to stay.

Laugh. One of the most important things in my life is laughter. I love it. I love a hearty, deep from the diaphragm belly laugh. And the kind of laugh that starts out as the giggles and you just can’t keep yourself from doing it, even when the situation may be “inappropriate”. Laughter relieves stress, and stress isn’t on my list of things I’d like to keep around. It makes for enjoyable moments, expected or not, and I feel a whole lot younger when I’m laughing.

Be Social. As much as I want to know who I am, I find it an extreme necessity for me to be social. On the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, I’m an INFP. But that’s just because I’m right in the middle in introvert and extrovert tendencies, with a slight favor towards introvert. For me, it’s important that I honor both of these natural tendencies and make sure they’re both getting enough attention. In the company of my close friends, I can be myself, explore others, and see what else is out there for me to enjoy.

Sleep. I love to sleep. When I’m well rested, my brain functions properly. It’s not tired and it doesn’t refuse to calculate simple decisions, even if I’ve not had my morning coffee. I go to bed around the same time every night, with a slight exception on weekends. I get up around the same time every morning, even on weekends. If I’ve exerted myself more than I normally do on any given day, I take a short nap. Because my sleep is pretty regular, it’s easy for me to determine when I’m tired, when I’m not feeling well, and when I’m antsy with energy. Simply put, sleep allows me to not only know myself better, but to be a better me while I’m awake.

Ask Questions. In business, there’s a rule of asking why five times when making major decisions that affect the company. I tweak the “why” and apply this to my personal life, as well. My emotions can be all over the place—I’m human. And when they are, I ask myself why. I lean into whatever emotion is there and dig until I know what it is that I’m really feeling. If I’m feeling angry, I ask if it’s anger or are my feelings hurt. If I’m sad, I ask if it’s sadness or if it’s something else. When it’s truly anger or sadness, I ask where that comes from. I ask myself how long I’d like to stay in this state. I ask if this place feels good, and I ask what can I do to feel good. Sometimes the answer to how long I’d like to stay in an angry state is, “Forever!!” and then it passes. Sometimes the only thing that will make me feel better is crying and getting it all out. But if I don’t ask myself the questions, then I might just try to feel better and stuff it all down, where it will manifest itself into toxic energy and begin the process of killing me slowly.

Trust Yourself. You know that feeling you get right in the pit of your stomach? That feeling that tells you that something just isn’t right here? Or the one that tells you that this is the right moment, even if all the external factors in your life are telling you otherwise? That’s your gut. Your intuition. That’s your most authentic self trying to tell you something. Trust it. You may not get it right every time, but the more you practice trusting yourself and that gut feeling, the better you’ll get at knowing what it’s trying to tell you. You didn’t learn your native language in a day, don’t worry about getting your intuition right the first time. And when you do follow your gut, follow it completely. I don’t always get the outcome I expected when I trust myself, but I do always learn something about myself.

Be Honest. I’m not talking about being honest with other people. Honesty with others is always a good thing, but it’s difficult to be honest with others when I’m not honest with myself. I don’t lie to myself when I’ve gained a few extra pounds and say that I’ll start working on it after the first of the year; I acknowledge the facts and then create an action plan to address my weight issue. I don’t lie to myself that I haven’t finished my book because I’ve just been so busy; I ask myself what’s really going on there and then make some time to dig into that question. I don’t tell myself that I’m doing everything in my power to grow my business when I know that there’s more I could be doing; I ask myself what more am I willing to do to grow this business that I’m so passionate about. I’m honest with myself when I feel like crap (and then, of course, I ask myself why). This honesty helps me get to the core of my authenticity, and then helps me actually live from that space versus any fears that are keeping me from who I really am.

These are just a few things you can do to create a more authentic life for yourself. The trick here is to give yourself some leeway in the beginning. You’re human, just like me. Be kind to yourself as you’re transitioning into your most authentic self—think of it as an integration, and be patient. Beware of the all-or-nothing mentality, which will have you telling yourself you can’t do this in no time at all. Write these bullet points down and keep them with you. Read them every morning and/or every night. And if you think of things you can do to be more authentic that aren’t on this list, write those down, too. The more you tailor your list to you, the more authentic the list will help you become.

Ain’t nothin’ to it, but to do it.” ~ Maya Angelou

Laughing Buddha photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chitrasudar/ / CC BY 2.0
Breakfast photo:
lepiaf.geo

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