Last year I began to do work on myself after a long and difficult time in my life. Part of this work involved examining and changing my habits, motivations and goals in order to become happier and more fulfilled.
In my process of self-reflection, I was able to connect with my authentic self, who I am at my core, underneath of layers of what I do, what I have, and who I am when trying to be what someone else wants me to be. Tapping into my authenticity, my best self, has helped me heal and transform myself.
Here are five things that helped me and can help you to cultivate authenticity and be a happier, healthier person.
1. Identify your core values.
Determine what is most important to you in life. Make a list of five to 10 core values and reflect on how you currently engage with them. If “creativity” is a value you purport to hold high, what are you doing to foster it? Once you have identified your values and the role they play in your life, then you can begin to bridge the gap between just thinking about what’s important to you and actually living it, manifesting your values in your everyday life.
2. Start where you are.
There's no perfect time to begin to make change. You just have to make the first step, and change will follow. And remember that it’s OK to be imperfect. Bring your weaknesses to the table; either you'll see how you can grow in these areas, or you may come to recognize that they aren't weaknesses at all, but secret strengths. Starting exactly where you are, imperfections and all, is being truly human, and that's authentic.
3. Be persistent.
It’s hard to let go of old and unskillful habits. We’re comfortable with them because they’re what we’ve always done, even if they haven’t been helpful. It will take time and a lot of practice to change, but it's better to take small steps moving you in the direction you want to go than staying stuck in a place where don’t want to be. Sometimes three steps forward and two steps back is just the reality. Don’t give up.
4. Be forgiving.
There will be times when your words and actions don’t align with your values. You'll make mistakes, but as you get more in touch with your authentic self, you will recognize the misalignments more quickly. When these disconnects happen, apologize to yourself or to whomever you hurt, and let it go. There's no sense in holding onto pain or feelings that sabotage your journey. Correct yourself and get back on course.
5. Nourish yourself.
Being your best self is hard work, so take time every day to do the things that feed your soul. Invest in self-care, because it will help empower your capacity for authenticity. You can’t be your best self if you put everyone else’s needs first. You have to love and nourish yourself, too.
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