One scroll through social media or a quick internet search and you’ll have no trouble finding posts about authenticity.
“Unlock your authentic self!”
“Find your authentic self!”
“Love your authentic self!”
“Be your authentic self!”
WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN???
In Brene Brown’s groundbreaking book The Gifts of Imperfection, she defines authenticity as “a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
OK…so using that definition, our authentic self would be our true self. Got it. Sounds great, right? What a wonderful way to approach your daily life! But how can you let your “true self” be seen when you don’t even know what that is?
Not to worry, boo. I got you.
Before you dig in to any of those enticing blogs about the “5 Ways to Be Your Authentic Self”, let’s start with a reality check. You won’t be able to identify your true self and share it with others if you feel you are flawed and unworthy of connection.
Gulp. I know. That may sound harsh. Take a deep breath and hear me out.
Which voice is your true voice?
I spent years listening to the negative nelly voice in my head, using it as my main guide. So many years, in fact, that hearing anything other than that has become nearly impossible. Can you relate to that? I ask you this…where does that come from for you? Why did you stop listening to the other voice inside of you? When did you start become ashamed of who you are?
Now don’t get me wrong. You may not be ashamed of EVERYTHING you are. You can likely find some good qualities to name about yourself when asked. But what happens when you look beyond the surface?
If you don’t feel you are worthy of love and belonging, you won’t be able to find your true self. You’ll find a version of it that is shaded with elements of shame and scarcity and perceived self-protection. It may be a version of your “self”, but it’s not the one we’re looking for if we’re being truly authentic.
Alright, I think I’ve made my point. So now what? How do you step into that space where you can make the choice to identify your true self and let her be seen? How do you find that other, more compassionate inner voice you’ve lost touch with? (It’s okay if you have lines from Dear Evan Hansen songs going through your head right now. I know I do. “How do I step in…step in to the sun…”)
- Recognize that inner critic. I touched on this before, but I really want you to spend some time tuning in to that Debby Downer voice that sounds like it’s putting you down or leading you to feel ashamed. That, sweet reader, is NOT your true and authentic self. It’s the exact opposite.
- Create time for you to explore who you are. If you’ve been ignoring your truth for as many years as I had, you may find that you can’t easily define yourself. You may not know what you like to do, like to eat, like to listen to. That’s ok!! Allow time for you to get to know yourself again. A great way to do this is through journaling. Write down all those thoughts swimming through your head. The worries, the fears, the shame, the judgements, the criticism. Don’t edit and don’t critique. Just think like Elsa and let it flow.
- Encourage your voice. As you work through your journaling and pull those thoughts out of your brain and down on to paper, you’ll likely start to feel a truer voice coming through. After those criticisms and judgements and worries are brought into the light, you make space for what will feel like your true self to come through. Pay attention to that. Welcome that. Encourage that.
- Find what matters to you. This one may take a little longer, especially if it’s been years since you’ve really heard your true self. Patience, grasshopper. Through exploring who you are and encouraging your voice, you’ll begin to identify things that bring you excitement and joy and fulfillment.
I’d love to hear how this process goes for you! Once you start this journey to finding your authentic self, you may find you weren’t as disconnected from it as you thought.