“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” – C.G. Jung Browse any self-help aisle of a bookstore or on-line book retailer and undoubtedly you will see expressions such as “Become your authentic self!” or “Love your authentic self.” As a coach, I invite people to discover their true self in order to create lasting peace. But, over the last several weeks, each time I have heard or used “authentic self” I have wondered do I really understand what that means – and am I being authentic?
When you look up the term “authentic self”, it is generally defined as the opposite of our ego created self. It is the person we are created to be; the person we are when we don’t care what others think of us. It sounds wonderful, but during times of struggle or feeling stuck, the idea of an authentic self sounds as elusive as winning the lottery. Becoming who we were meant to be falls to the bottom of the list when we are simply trying to keep up with the daily demands of life such as paying bills, caring for our children or parents and sleep is a distant memory.
But, what I realized over the last several weeks (perhaps years) is that when we discover our authenticity, living with the demands of our life becomes easier; we make better choices, feel more confidence and joy and complain less. In looking at whether I understood this idea and seeing if I was really being me, I had to start with the simple question of who am I? What I discovered is that I answered that question like many of us do – by defining what I do rather than who I am. I heard myself say I am a wife, mother, coach, friend and daughter.
All of those things are merely expressions of my authentic self. Who I am instead is a culmination of a variety of things: my skills, attitudes, beliefs, talents and understanding. It is also being able to express all of those things without fear, doubt, manipulation, caring what others think, conformity or pleasing others. My authentic self is who I am when I share a moment with my husband, when I honestly share my mistakes with my friends, when I let go of judgments and expectations, put down my super woman cape, hug my children and stand in humility – knowing I don’t have all the answers and must lean on a power higher than me. Authenticity means knowing that I am truly valued no matter what I do in a day.
As I look at my own life, I realize that it takes courage to express authentically and also to understand the things that keep me from being me. Like each one of us, I still hide behind things that keep me from my truest expression. I am definitely not immune to guilt, shame, fear or pride – but do realize that just as the things that I do don’t define me, neither do the things that keep me from expressing myself. Our authentic self is always there. It does not need to be created, but simply uncovered and expressed. And when we give ourselves the gift of expressing who we really are, we really do feel more peace and lasting happiness!
Peace Practice: Today I invite you to express your authentic self!
- Begin by asking the question, “Who am I?” Make sure you define who you are not by what you doing, but what you love, believe, understand and express through your talents.
- Notice too, when am I not my authentic self? Identify times that you beat yourself up for your actions, done something simply to please others, or held yourself back because you are afraid what others might think of you.
- Today let go of at least one habit or action that keeps you from expressing yourself and notice how you feel when you honor whom you really are!
Love from my authentic self,