Living an Authentic Life - WTF Does That Even Mean?
In this episode of Letters from the Coffee Shop, I’m talking about the big “A Word” – Authenticity and living an authentic life. I’ve been working in the self/personal development world for nearly two years now and you come across this concept a lot – a whole lot - but WTF does it even mean? How do you even know if you’re living your very best authentic life?
- Of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine.
- Made or done in the traditional or original way, or in a way that faithfully resembles an original.
- Based on facts; accurate or reliable.
- (in existentialist philosophy) Relating to or denoting an emotionally appropriate, significant, purposive, and responsible mode of human life.
Genuine, Real, True, Pukka (thank you Oxford English Dictionary for that last one)
Spurious (love that word), Fake, Unreliable
So, if the opposite of being authentic is being fake, then to show up authentically in your life is to be real, genuine and true to the person you are on the inside, right? This is something I grapple with most days - how to go about living your life in a way that is real, genuine and true is challenging enough, but the thing that I’ve wrestled with is, what am I really on the inside and if I show the whole world that, will they ever want to speak to me again (cos there’s a fair bit of shit in there too)?
I think the idea of being yourself, your real self, the one on the inside, is one of the most terrifying concepts around these days (of course yes, I recognise that there are injustices of far greater proportions happening to many folks, so I’m generalising now). We all want to be authentic, or we think we do, lots of people I follow online shout about authenticity all the time, but it takes huge COURAGE and VULNERABILITY to show up authentically ALL the time, in ALL the situations regardless of what you believe to be the risk.
Go on, indulge me, can you think of a time in the last 24 hours, in fact the last 12 hours, where you did or said something or acted in a way that wasn’t 100% you and instead, was in order to “fit in” or conform or to please someone else? I bet you can, I reckon every single one of us can (email me with yours, I dare you.
I believe the hidden pressure to conform in some way vs the innate need to show up as yourself is a constant battle in our lives. Choosing the latter requires lots of practice, flexing that courage muscle and knowing yourself well, what your core values are, what truly matters to you and having flexible but firm boundaries over what is OK and what is really not OK.
This is especially rampant on social media where we don't show up picking our noses, scratching our arses, with yesterday’s makeup on, but we show up with pretty filters and make up and showing the very best and awesome bits of our lives. I'm all for a beautiful newsfeed and one with inspiring quotes and really gorgeous photos, but all the time we show up as something filtered or “showier” than our real selves, we do both ourselves and our followers a disservice. Ourselves because it should be OK to be the real, true and unfiltered you and this is the path to true self-belief and self-acceptance. But also to our followers as they believe what they see on social media and we are encouraging them to believe the artificial us and not the real us.
Two steps along the path to an authentic life:
- Understand yourself – this is a life time of work but a good place to start is with a core values exercise to help you understand what really matters to you.
- Exercise your courage muscle every day. The temptation to start with something BIG is right there – RESIST IT. You want to start small. Every single day kinda small. Aim to find yourself doing something small and courageous every day. Say “No” to something you would usually accept, attend something that would usually scare you or maybe even leave the office on time for a change rather than working late.
However you do it I am 100% sure that living an authentic life will be two things: Frickin Amazing and Downright Scary. But I’m also 100% positive it’s the very best path you can take. If you need some help working some of these things out click on the link below to book a Clarity Call with me as I’d love to walk along that path with you.