The greatest gift you have to offer to the ones you love and to everyone you meet is YOU. We are all unique and special. What I share with you can literally change your life. And what you share with me can calm my fears, clarify my life purpose or bring to me a sense that I am not alone. We can help others to see the world and their life circumstances in a new light if we reveal what is true for us. But when we hide, withhold, or fear the reactions of others, we deprive others from the benefit of our wisdom and we deprive our self of the opportunity to feel valued and special.
How much of YOU have you been hiding from the world and maybe even hiding from yourself? Do you freely express exactly what you are thinking and feeling regardless of the reactions and responses of others? Do you tell yourself the truth about what is happening in your life at any given moment?
If you are like the vast majority of us, you are probably more likely to be truthful when you feel good about a situation and untruthful when you feel upset. For example, if you finished a project and received lots of praise, you probably would enjoy talking about the project and what you had to do to complete it. However, if you feel criticized and judged, you may feel a need to defend yourself and to blame somebody or something, including yourself.
Being authentic involves being able to step back from any situation, no matter how difficult and emotionally painful, and express your true thoughts and feelings about it. The only way we can make positive changes is if we acknowledge what is actually happening. And this works for projects, for relationships and for our own personal well-being.
1. Know yourself
Thousands of years ago, the famous Greek philosopher Socrates, taught his students that the most important learning is to “Know thy self.” And most of us think we do know our own self, after all we wake up, spend the day together, and sleep together every night. We certainly must know something about this person called “I.” But something happens in our developing years, words are heard, behaviors are seen, and body language is expressed by our caretakers and others who claim to love us. We look to be accepted so we adjust our thoughts and actions to receive the acceptance from outside and also from inside our own mind. But no matter how well we behave and how many positive thoughts we think, we cannot ignore our emotions, we cannot ignore what we truly feel. Start paying attention to the sensations in your body, the warning signs that something does not feel right, does not feel safe, is not aligned with your authentic needs and desires.
2. Acknowledge yourself
Do you know how magnificent you are? If you are like many of us, when you are praised and complimented you may actually think to yourself “That’s nice but it’s no big deal. Anyone can do this.” And when you are criticized you probably begin to think about yourself “You idiot. Everyone else can do this or do it better, so why can’t you.” Start keeping track of what you are doing well and how you are affecting the world in a positive way. Learn from negative situations and keep reminding yourself of all the good that you do and that you are.
3. Accept yourself
Is there something about yourself that you have been unable to accept? Now is the time to stop judging, to tell the truth to yourself, and face your fear that you are not good enough or that something is wrong with you. Seek help from a qualified professional or a caring friend. Sometimes you need input from outside of yourself because your mind is sending you messages in a negative feedback loop, telling you what is wrong with you. Someone else can remind you that you are not those thoughts and that you are okay.
4. Appreciate yourself
Do you show appreciation to yourself every day? When you accomplish something, do you wait for someone else to acknowledge you or do you give yourself the praise you deserve? Do you buy yourself gifts or does it only feel good when it comes from someone else? Do you take yourself out to a special restaurant, movie, theater or other activity or do you only treat yourself when you are with someone else? Look in the mirror and send love to the person looking back at you. Befriend yourself. Love yourself. Appreciate yourself.
5. Share yourself
Even in your most open moments you may still be hiding some private part of yourself. What would it feel like to freely say exactly what you are thinking and feeling in any given moment with any other person? Imagine the effect you can have on another person as you openly share yourself. We all want to “fit in,” feel accepted and safe. That’s why so many of us tend to put on a false front without revealing our internal emotional state. When someone shares their truth without worrying how the rest of us will respond, that person gives the rest of us permission. Be the leader. Lead by example. Open your heart and share who you are. Some people may not like it and may resist your authenticity. Do it anyway.
Every one of us arrives on this planet as a precious and unique being. As infants we don’t worry about what anybody else thinks. When we are hungry we will do whatever we can to get mommy or daddy to feed us. When we have digested our food and are ready to let it go, we do not refrain from expressing our natural urges. We smile when we feel safe and we cringe in fear or cry and scream when we are bothered. Babies are authentic. So are animals.
Being authentic is our natural way of being. And then life takes over. People, circumstances, education and our own mental images and interpretations collaborate to stop us from being our magnificent self. Today is the day to express your true self and to choose to connect with people who allow you to freely be yourself. Share your special gift, YOU, with the world around you.
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