“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be."
~ May Sarton
Essentialization: Moving closer to one’s essence
The above definition came to me in a dream one night and later became the basis for my book, Portals of Peace: A Path to Inner Peace and a Healed World.
The truth is that most of us have two selves – the self that we present to the world and the deeper self, which is our essence or soul. The fact that we have a presenting self may sound bad, but it’s actually a good thing. Growing up we are taught how to control our instinctive impulses and how to present ourselves in a socially acceptable manner. Without the socialization process we’d be living in a barbaric world.
At a certain age, however, we are called to integrate these two selves and allow the essence of who we are to fully emerge. Joseph Campbell referred to this as the hero’s journey. It is a time for us to take some risks by entering unknown territory where we are sure to discover our untapped potential, dreams and gifts.
Mystics believe that we are assisted by supernatural forces in this process that I call essentialization. Because life energy is the great alchemist, we are only asked to do what we know in our heart is the next right thing and life will do the rest, transforming us into our highest, most authentic self. Sometimes this is a small thing and sometimes it is a big thing. We know we are on the right path when the thing that our heart is leading us toward invokes a sense of fear. It feels like a risk, but at the same time we know it is important – imperative even.
Be still. Listen to your heart. Follow it. This will lead you down the path of essentialization. It may look dark and scary at times but it is certain to reveal your most authentic self and lead to your highest and most fulfilling life.
Kimberly Kingsley, Energy Coach – www.kimberlykingsley.com
This week’s topic has us looking at ways that we can define for ourselves what it means to be authentic, and how to live accordingly. But what if we put a spin on this question and turned it around. What if we asked ourselves to identify the barriers to living our respective truths?
Living authentically comes naturally to us at first. When we’re young, we’re naturally expressing who we are and what we like. We gravitate towards toys, friends, clothing, experiences that resonate with us and bring us joy. What stops that from continuing on into adulthood? What is it that introduces self-doubt, self-consciousness, and insecurity?
We learn to question ourselves by the messages we get from others. This isn’t always such a bad thing. It’s the job of our parents or other caregivers to teach us what is and isn’t acceptable in our interactions with other people. We learn what is “okay” and what is not “okay” by reading the reactions and taking in the guidance of others. It’s in this way that we are socialized. The challenge to our authenticity comes when the messages we get aren’t just guidance, but criticism, blame and shame.
As adults, we often have to undo these harsher messages that we may have internalized. We can stop and become aware of how we’ve been playing these negative tapes of self-talk in our heads that tell us we’re not good enough or that our authentic selves are not acceptable to others. It’s with this recognition that we can begin to allow our true selves to emerge.
Marnee Reiley, LMFT (CA Lic. 83021) – www.youroctherapist.com
Our lives are filled with “should” & “should not”. To the point where we feel as if we have the need to fulfill some kind of standard that has been installed in us from the time we were little. We go on with our daily lives, trying to fulfill other’s expectations, and pleasing needs of others. Be it making our parents happy by choosing a career that they approve of. Or by pleasing our friends with the life choices we make. Or making our spouse happy, by doing things we don’t necessary like. All of these factors lead to us not living authentically.
When we live under other people’s expectations, and not authentically, we ignore what we need in life. This makes us unhappy, because we can never control other people’s happiness, we can only control our happiness.
Here are some tips on living authentically:
1. Figure out what makes you happy, just you, not having anyone else involved.
2. Do something selfish for yourself everyday. (As long as you are not hurting anyone, you can do as you please.)
3. Pick up a hobby that you always wanted to do but never had time for, or you always put on the back burner.
4. Really focus on yourself and on finding who you really are.
5. Remember, you don’t have to explain yourself and your choices to anyone, this is your life and you can live it any way you like.
6. Don’t worry about if what you do for yourself makes other people happy, only do what makes you happy. If people aren’t happy with your happiness, then you don’t need those kinds of people in your life!
Madlen Pashinian, Marriage and Family Therapist Intern – www.marriagefamilytherapist.net
1. Start where you are
It is a life-long process of knowing yourself and uncovering/discovering parts and aspects of yourself so that you can be ‘who you really are’. This is indeed the journey of life! However, it helps to start where we are. We can do this by knowing our values, knowing what our triggers and wounds are, and knowing what is our purpose in life. It also helps to ask the question, how do we aspire to be?
2. Know your values
You may start by thinking about what are your top five highest values. We all have many values that are important to us but what are your top five? When you know what these are and have them integrated with who you are, then you have a landing place and a compass by which to navigate when decisions are to be made. When we act from our values we feel aligned with our integrity and when we are in alignment we know we are being true to ourselves.
3. Know your mission and purpose in life
We all need to have a big why in our lives. What makes us excited, what is our passion, what really motivates us. These are big questions which require some deep reflection and also they may change and evolve over time.
4. Breathe into what feels true
Finally, from moment to moment we have the capacity to choose. When we practice pausing and breathing deeply, sensing inwards and putting the question inside: what feels most authentic right now in this moment, we find a freedom to act from a place that resonates more deeply with our inner selves, a place from which authenticity can flow.
Margie Ulbrick, LLB/BA/GD SOCSCI – www.margieulbrickcounselling.com
We live in a world where we are encouraged to put on a front and make things look better than they are. People around us don’t want us to be sad or angry because it makes them feel bad, but also because they want us to be happy. We look around and see that everyone is doing so well, or at least it looks that way on social media, and we want to be that, too. We to be more and better than we actually are because it looks so good. But are we being authentic?
The word authentic has many connotations, but to me the most important is to be who you are, exactly who you are, in each moment. This means to feel fully whatever it is that you are feeling and to be doing only what you are doing and not thinking about the next thing or what you will eat for dinner. It means not having to impress others by showing them you are something that you are not because who you are in this moment is perfect. It is not following the crowd and thinking for yourself.
When you are being your authentic self, you feel it in every muscle, bone, and organ of your body. You feel grounded, and you’re not worried that you’ll do something wrong because you know that even if you do, you’ll find a way to make it better. You feel strong and confident when you are coming from a place of authenticity, but it isn’t puffed up or arrogant, it is true strength and true confidence. You feel relaxed and ready for whatever comes next because you know you can manage it.
Other people recognize when you are coming from a place of authenticity, too. They feel your presence and know that you are telling them the truth. They feel connected to you, and they feel your warmth. They know that they can trust you.
So how do you get back to this place of authenticity when you’ve lost it?
Practice mindfulness. It’s the best way I know to truly be alive in each moment. Do one thing at a time and do that one thing with all your attention. Be present with your experience as it’s happening. Practice gratitude, too. When we are grateful for what we have and who we have become, we aren’t looking to be something we are not, we are simply appreciating the situation as it is. And, finally, spend time with people who feel authentic to you. We learn so much from watching others and following their good examples. And it’s always better to do it intentionally.
Becky Bringewatt, MA, LPC, NCC – www.mantiscounselingandcoaching.org
There is only one you. There has never been nor will there ever be another you. Think about it for a moment….
There is only ONE you… What a freakin’ remarkable concept!
Each and every one of us is specifically designed to hold a special place on this planet while we are here. Each one of us comes adorned with unique talents and spiritual gifts to offer the world. Each one of us has the capacity to share our inner light with humanity and to heal not only ourselves, but others around us. And all of this manifests, when we embrace who we genuinely are without approval and without apology.
In essence, it is giving our true nature safe passage to be seen by the world and to experience the freedom and abundance that will indeed organically follow.
With that being said, I understand that sometimes we can lose our grasp on this reality. We may look around us and compare what others have or are we begin to think we are not worthy or something is terribly wrong with us. We lose sight of our own individuality and for a moment, believe we are “less than” and must change ourselves in order to blend with the world.
Who ever said we needed to blend with the world to live a fulfilled life? Where is this written? Why do we think this is where success is born?
In thinking we need to change and/or blend, we are actually going against the grain of nature’s beauty and creative genius! We are doing the opposite of what will bring true success in life. Successful people (health, wealth, relationships) have not duplicated anything or anyone. They have learned to tap into their divine essence and share that essence outwardly. They understood that what they had/have to offer is different than what anyone else had/has to offer. Fulfillment of our life is not born through duplication. It is born through authentication!
“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.” –Bruce Lee
A large ingredient in the recipe for empowerment is embracing one’s own authenticity for every nuance, quirk and brilliant expression of individuality that we are. The world needs you as you are! Accept who you are. Allow yourself to be seen. Observe how life will step up to meet your authenticity and align miracles to match it.
When we commit to owning, celebrating and displaying our authentic unique selves, we truly begin to live as nature intended.
And always remember…
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” -Carl Jung
Kristen Brown, Author of From Doormat To Sweet Empowerment – www.sweetempowerment.com
Who is your authentic self? … Wait, my authentic self? I can tell you my roles, I’m a student, or insert hard earned job title here, I’m a wife and or I am father, but my authentic self? … Can you come back to me on that one?
I think it’s an unfortunate reality that it’s normal to not be in touch with who our authentic self really is. We are wrapped up in our roles and identities, much less who we are at the core. I encourage you to push beyond these covers, or roles we may or may not always enjoy and get to know you, on this day, in this moment.
1. Be patient with yourself.
Getting to know yourself, is a life long process, so take little opportunities every day in getting to know your preferences, or listening to that little cry of joy when you’re heart starts to fill fulfilled. It can be a silly song, or a book you can connect with. Listen to that little voice, tune into it, and if you’re patient and mindful, it will grow louder!
2. Don’t get caught up in comparing your authentic self-development with others.
Think about it, in reality, who cares! Be you! Let them be them! If everyone was the same, or our journeys were the same. That would be boring!
3. There isn’t a script, so stop looking.
I really believe this journey is an organic journey and very different for each person. Push aside the daily BS, and tune into your heart and soul. Let those gut feelings be your guide.
4. Try to surround yourself around genuine and authentic people.
Whatever and whoever that is for you, it makes it easier to have those types of people around you, when you’re trying to do the same thing. I personally love people who can really laugh, can laugh at life, at themselves, even in despair. I like being around people who are strong enough to admit when they are hurting or struggling, and pick themselves up and keep going. I like people who are authentic and strong enough to tell me they don’t agree with me, despite my strong personality, or share another perspective. Being around those that are trying to be authentic too, encourages and motivates be to do the same. Another gift, is that they are the first ones to call you out, when you may be acting inauthentic. Which can be truly annoying, but a total gift. Those are my little hints that people are being authentic. What are yours?
Jessica Hopkins, MA, NCC – www.thriveccofco.com
It can be scary tuning into yourself and figuring out who you really are. Most of us, wear several masks in our daily lives that cause us to become disconnected from our true selves. Below are a few tips on how to reconnect with your authentic self.
1. Tune into you! What do you find yourself drawn to? What do you enjoy when you are alone (wearing no masks, when you at your most comfortable)? There’s gold in these answers, clues to the authentic you. Make time each day to honor the things you truly enjoy.
2. Where’s your joy? What makes you happy? When are you completely in your element? Absorbed by what you are doing? When you are happy, you are relaxed and you allow your authentic self room to shine. Not sure, keep a journal, noting the times you feel at your best, lost in the moment and happy. Make time for these moments every day.
3. Connect with nature. Go for a walk, sit by the beach. Find a place where you can be in nature. Once in nature, use your five senses to truly take in the experience. Don’t censor anything. Just allow yourself to be in the moment. Take a journal with you, draw and write down what you experience. What you notice. What speaks to you. Being in a nature is a fabulous way to reconnect to you.
4. Move! Dance! Let yourself go! Find some music you connect to, that you feel in your soul. Turn it up and allow yourself just to move naturally. Get lost in the music. Music, like nature is another great way to reconnect to your authentic self.
Feeling stuck? You can start by create a collage. Don’t censor yourself. Pick pictures that speak to you. Even if you don’t understand the pictures you are picking. That’s okay. Just go with your gut. These are glimpses of the authentic you.
Margaret Bell, MA, NCC – www.forwardkindheart.com
What does being your authentic self really mean? If you look up the definition of authentic, you’ll find the meaning is ‘valid’, ‘trustworthy’ and ‘not false or copied’. While we all know logically that we are inimitable beings, the challenge of trusting our feelings and expression of our uniqueness is omnipresent. So how can we find our authentic self, and live our life in congruence with who we are?
1. What does authenticity look like for you?
Do you feel that you have something to say yet people don’t hear you when you speak? Do you feel as if you’re living in a body that doesn’t fit who you know yourself to be? Are you following a path of educational or professional choices that you think you “should be”, yet still feel unfulfilled? Determine what expression of yourself you feel like you have been stifling!
2. Figure out what’s getting in the way
Do you feel like you need to act or express yourself in a way that pleases others, but feels personally false? Maybe this feeling is frequent, and maybe it’s occasional but either way it’s frustrating to feel as if you have to put on a mask for others and not be seen for who you truly are. Explore the roots of what is coming in between you and your open expression. Being a therapist who practices from a social justice perspective, many times I find that societal expectations are the barriers that prevent us from being fully genuine.
3. Surround yourself with people that appreciate who you are
Think about the people in your life, and who allows you to feel comfortable, and not judged. This is someone who understands that we are all human, imperfect, and vulnerable and can hold the space for that truth. Sometimes we may need a therapist for this role, to help us honor ourselves and determine the other sources of strength in our lives. A challenge to expect in this part of the process is your relationships will change. This may mean people you’ve had in your life for a long time take a back seat for a while, others may need to go away permanently. If you feel judged by another person or that they cannot hear or see you and what you want for your life, they are an obstacle in your journey of authenticity.
Author Brene Brown says, “Authenticity is a daily practice”. The process of being your authentic self is enduring, and once you begin that journey you are actively validating yourself and your personal truth.
Aimee Aron-Reno, MA, NCC, LPC – www.aimeearon.com
We live a world where we are expected to meet certain social norms. Social norms exist for a reason; in order for groups of people, including families and communities, to get along we need to monitor our behavior to some degree. There are costs to this however; we lose our individuality and expression of our true self which is limiting and repressive. How can we live our lives with more authenticity? We can start by building our own awareness about who our authentic self is.
What are your values?
Take an online assessment examining your values. There are many values inventories available and you can access them with a quick internet search. This will help you to discover what is most important to you in life.
What do you like to do?
What makes you feel alive and gives you energy? Make a list of things you like. We often spend our time trying to please others and doing what they like. Make a list of activities you enjoy and commit to yourself to spend time doing them at least once a day.
Categories for enjoyable activity list:
– What do like to eat?
– What do you like to read?
– What movies or TV shows do you like?
– What kind of physical activity is enjoyable to you?
– Who do you like spending time with?
– Where do you like to go?
– What do you enjoy thinking about?
– Do you like a certain type of music?
– Do you enjoy dancing?
– Is there an artistic expression that feels good to you?
– Do you like to sing, draw, decorate..?
For some people this exercise is difficult. You may not know what you like to do. Things that are energizing and make time slip away are generally enjoyable activities. It is important to validate your findings. For example, you may have been given the message, by family members or society that that certain activities you enjoyed were not worthwhile, like talking on the phone to your friends. Try to push those invalidating messages aside and discover what makes your heart sing.
Once you become more aware of who you are you can experiment with sharing your authentic self with others. It is best to begin sharing your authentic self in a safe space with a counselor, a therapeutic group, or a trusted friend or family member. You will find that when you express yourself with authenticity, integrity, and openness that you will attract, or repel, the right people in your life. As you begin to develop confidence in sharing aspects of your authentic self you can expand this expression to all areas of your life.
Jeannie Herman, MS, NCC – www.holisticsolution.org
Living an authentic life is a piece of cake for an infant or toddler. If you want to know what it looks like, just watch them. They are free and unhindered by the pressures and expectations of this world. Living authentically is achieved when we express our true selves – what we are really feeling and thinking. Most of us learned along the way to put certain parts of ourselves in a box. This typically happens when we are either told directly or we infer that something about us is unacceptable. Children hear this all the time. There is a huge difference between learning how to be kind and loving and learning that parts of us are unacceptable. The parts that aren’t kind and loving by nature don’t need to be shoved away, they just need to be guided, embraced and accepted.
If you’re reading this, it’s likely you are way past those precious formative years. So what do you do now to reclaim your authentic self?
Take time to reflect on the things that brought you joy when you were young.
What inspired you?
What made your heart beat and filled your mind with excitement?
Playing in rain puddles, dancing, catching fireflies, lying in the grass watching clouds or stars, worms, gadgets, music…? You were once excited about living. Recapture those elements and start bringing them back into your life.
What you truly feel and think about everything that you are exposed to is part of your authentic self. We usually hide our true thoughts and feelings in exchange for being accepted or liked by those around us. Trouble is, they are busy being who they think you want them to be. Here we all are desperately wanting to be accepted by people who want to be accepted and no one is real. Well, not no one, a few brave souls have stepped off the crazy merry go round and are living joyfully in their true authentic selves.
The key to living authentically is letting go of all the ‘shoulds’ and ‘ought tos’ that are hindering you from letting who you are shine.
Accept your true self. Find your validation from within, not from what others think about you…or what you think they think about you! Because we were created, because we exist, we have inherent worth and value. When you accept yourself, you are free to be who you are.
Karen Thacker, LPC – www.journeyforward.net