Sounds nice, right?
So what’s keeping you from it and why don’t you just claim it?
The only thing standing between you and that kind of freedom and confidence is your inability to live authentically from your innermost core. Notice that I’m not telling you to be authentic because it will make you a better person, or because you owe it to the world or anything like that. I’m telling you to be more authentic because authenticity and self-love are your keys to the kingdom. Without them, nothing else can bring you joy. With them, nothing can fail to bring you joy.
We all started out gloriously authentic, but our authenticity was beaten out of us. Over and over, we got the message, implicitly and explicitly, that “image is everything,” and “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” My friend who works in sales for a mega-publishing company likes to quip, “Anybody who says you can’t judge a book by its cover never tried to sell one.” The cover is all we judge by!
And all of us want our covers to be the shiniest, most impressive covers we can manage to project. But where does that really leave us in terms of self-love and genuine connection with our fellow humans? Our inauthentic tendencies are often woven so deeply into the fiber of our beings that we have no idea they’re even there. People-pleasing is an all-too-common and insidious addiction in our world, and I know I will forever be a recovering addict in that regard.
At the root of all people-pleasing tendencies, and most inauthentic tendencies in general, is a fear of being judged. Many of us grew up with some degree of a fear of abandonment from being found unlovable if we were judged and came up short. And we all judge ourselves to varying extents. If you think you don’t judge yourself, it probably just means you have a judgment about judging yourself.
If you’re sensitive to the criticism of others, consider this: The extent to which you feel hurt by anyone’s judgment of you is directly proportional to the degree to which you subconsciously judge that trait in yourself. If I called you a jerk, you might feel insulted, because most of us have a fear, deep down, that we have the capacity to be jerks. But if I called you a rhinoceros you’d probably just think I was nuts and shrug it off. You know you’re not a rhinoceros, so there’s no way I can insult you with that—unless you have a big nose or a big butt that you’re sensitive about, in which case your own self-judgment would cause you to be insulted.
When you catch yourself in those inevitable moments where you’re not expressing your deepest truth, celebrate it! Celebrate it because you caught yourself and that means—in that moment at least—you’re glimpsing your real self. Any acts of self-improvement must always start with awareness. Becoming ever more aware of the masks you wear will have the marvelous effect of revealing to you—by way of contrast—the one who resides beneath those masks. That’s who you’re looking for. That’s who you want to love.
Steps to Start You Living More Authentically Today:
- Every time you catch yourself saying yes when you want to say no, smiling when you feel like scowling, or nodding politely through a long conversation you’d rather walk away from, say the words “not me” silently in your head. You won’t be able to change long-held patterns overnight, but just starting to identify them to yourself will put you on the right track.
- Once you’ve begun noticing which people and situations bring out the “inauthentic you” most frequently, make a list of the perks of that relationship or situation. What are you getting out of it? You may find that you get very little from it, and choose to extricate yourself from those situations.
- If you find that you do get substantial benefit from remaining in the situation that you’ve been inauthentic in, start looking for small ways to introduce more of the real you into that situation. Sometimes an honest, heartfelt conversation is all that’s needed to clear the air and get you some breathing room. Give the other person the benefit of the doubt, and go into the conversation with the full expectation that you’ll be liked and respected even more for demonstrating your authenticity. (“Mom, I’m so touched by how much you love to cook for me, but tonight I really feel like something lighter. Let me take you out for sushi instead.”)
Worst case, Mom will be offended, but if you consistently express your truth with love and compassion, she’ll get used to the new you and it will eventually inspire her to be more of who she really is as well. Authenticity is the surest route to deepening your relationships with others as well as your relationship with you.
[About the Author: Unconditional love expert Lisa McCourt is a dynamic speaker, seminar leader and author whose 34 books have sold more 5.5 million copies worldwide.
Her new book, Juicy Joy – 7 Simple Steps to Your Glorious, Gutsy Self, teaches people to embrace "radical authenticity" to fully experience unbridled joy in life. Lisa lives in South Florida with her two children. For more information, visit www.LisaMcCourt.com.]
[Top Image: oedipusphinx at Flickr]