Αυθεντικότητα: Η δύναμη του να είσαι ο αληθινός εαυτός σου

Authenticity: The Power of Living a Life True to Yourself

Whose approval or acceptance are you chasing today? Do your current choices reflect your own criteria and core values? Before moving forward I encourage you to take a moment and answer these questions or at least make a mental note. It's important, because my theme for today is authenticity, and that cannot exist without first being honest with yourself. So at least here let's start on the right note.

Not another trend

I may have thrown you in the deep end but somehow I feel that there is no other way. You see lately the word authenticity is starting to become another trend. Everyone is talking about it, looking for it and repeating it. And as the word gains popularity, and a relative sexiness, I feel that its meaning and essence is being lost in yet another bubble of the marketing world. Meanwhile, in our highly-filtered, real world with its infinite influences being authentic certainly doesn't fit into any box, it's easier said than done, and infinitely more interesting and liberating.

What is authenticity?

If there's an interpretation of what it means to be authentic that speaks closest to my heart and kind of sums it all up, it's by Brené Brown's that says “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are” It may sound simple but I want you to think how often you adjust your behavior in order to match your environment. How many masks have you worn to feel accepted? How many times have you hidden or not expressed your true beliefs out of fear of rejection? And most importantly, how do you feel afterwards? I bet not very well. 

When you betray yourself to fit in, it's almost certain that you'll end up feeling isolated, alone, and in the long run hurt your self worth.. It's the cost of not being true to yourself. That's exactly when it's time to take a look inwards and ask yourself, "What does it mean for me to be authentic?" For you, not for your parents, the society, your friends or co-workers. Just you.

A very personal affair

Truth is that authenticity is multi-faceted, multi-dimensional;  changes with the phases of life and there is no one recipe that works for everyone. It's about being true to your own values ​​and acting based on what's important to you, not how you want or think others see you. Of course this requires identifying what your core values ​​are and being brutally honest with yourself. Is  respect, honesty, and tolerance more important to you? Or maybe creativity, compassion, generosity? If you want to be true to yourself, you need to think about what brings you joy, in the present along with what creates unpleasant feelings and may lead you away from making choices that are in line with your true desires. Being authentic means living in alignment with your soul. 

Finding your authentic self

The path to a more authentic life begins with knowing who you are. And I have news for you. You won't do this once. This self-check is best to be done often, because people change and it's a shame to waste your time chasing other people’s dreams or evenn your own that you have outgrown. It's like trying to fit into clothes and sizes you no longer fit. The following practices are a good starting place to help your self-discovery at any given point, so that you can carve out your own paths.

Do a personal inventory (as often as needed)

Take a step back and take a good, critical look at your life. Answer some direct questions honestly:

  • Do you like your job;
  • What in life gives you energy?
  • What do you feel drains you?
  • Do you have enough time?
  • How often do you do something you really don't want to do?
  • What type of people, activities, or situations make you feel most alive at this stage of your life?
  • Are there people, parts of your life or activities that make you feel unhappy, angry or even toxic?
  • What are your priorities at the moment?

Now take a step further and note what happens in the scenarios that you do not feel well. 

  • Who are you with?
  • What feelings arise?
  • What are these experiences costing you emotionally or physically?

Finally what happens in situations where you feel like your real self. 

  • Who are you with;
  • What are you doing;
  • What feelings or effects do these experiences have?

Simply by answering the above you will get a first idea of what is working for you right now, and what needs to change. But you need to take some time and be ready to admit some uncomfortable truths. Only then you will be able to  hear your own emotions and needs, (which are often buried under many other voices) and you will be able to understand what makes you truly happy. Maybe you are in a marriage were you don’t experience any companionship or connection because you've been convinced that's what people with kids should do, you're staying in a relationship that doesn't meet your needs  because he/she is a 'good person', you're chasing after money and a career while deep down all you want is a slow life and you'd be fine with a less. Is it your work, something personal, your relationship, or is it your inner judge? It's totally ok. to discover that you are not happy in a certain area of ​​your life. Sometimes in many areas. Some even in all areas. It happens to us all, or at least to most of us. We just don't talk about it as much as we should. However what is not ok, is to change nothing when you can. And you can. And you deserve it. Living an authentic life is only a few decisions away.

Focus inward

The ability to be in touch with yourself, regardless of what is going on around you, is essential to authenticity. Every time you wonder or focus on how others perceive you, whether someone approves of you, or what your environment or every fu**ing irrelevant person on the internet thinks is a good thing to do, you put yourself and your needs second. So practice pausing. Take a few breaths and get in touch with you. Think about your values, think about your needs. Focus inward. Don't criticize yourself. Whatever you feel doesn't need to make sense to anyone else. Practice this as often as you can, even for smallest decisions. Do it consciously until it becomes a habit and your new automatic thought. It will enhance your awareness and help you notice when you are not being authentic. And at first you might be shocked by how often this happens.

Prioritize your own needs

People pleasing—prioritizing the happiness of others over your own—is perhaps the easiest way to live inauthentically and a sure path to unhappiness (sooner or later). Putting yourself first is not selfish (despite how often you may have heard it), nor does it mean having selfish attitudes. It means pursuing your own goals and interests instead of the ones that your family members, loved ones, or social circle want you to pursue.

Speak your truth and set your boundaries

Keep your mind open to other people's opinions, but practice expressing your own voice as well. The one that reflects your values. Use them as a guide and learn to say no. To everything that doesn't serve you, doesn’t evolve you and does not align with your values, wants or the future vision you have for yourself. And don't be afraid to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is a power—it attracts genuine people into our lives and affirms our commitment to living our truth. The only thing you don’t need to be is rough or cruel. Honesty without tact is just mean.

Cultivate your self-worth

The most important relationship you can have is the one you have with yourself. The more secure and aligned you are with your needs and wants, the less likely you are to seek external validation. Cultivate self-compassion. Talk to yourself with kindness and when you are struggling put yourself in the shoes of a loved one. Even if he/she had made a huge mistake, how would you talk to him/her? That's how you should talk to yourself. Engage in activities that bring you joy  and make you feel capable and most importantly... ask for help if you are struggling to do so.  Maybe all these don't come naturally to you, Maybe no one taught you, you can learn it now, whatever stage in life  you are in. And you don’t have to do it alone. 

Learn to let go

Every once in a while, take inventory of the things in your life that no longer serve you – it may be a way of thinking that once helped you but no longer does, habits that you cultivate for years,, activities that you once enjoyed but now exhaust you, relationships that have come to full circle and you no longer feel connected with, feelings that keep you trapped in prisons of pain, anger, resentment...let them go. Letting go of what doesn't evolve you will help you grow and move forward on your personal growth journey.

Take daily steps towards authenticity

Authenticity may seem like a big, abstract concept and all the above tips like massive generalizations, but if you really think about it, it all comes down to your daily actions. In all those seemingly small moments, the words you speak, your small decisions, the things you say no or yes to, that add up to who you are.

A closing reflection

Living authentically is a brave choice, often requiring you to swim against the societal current. it's about marching to the beat of your own drum, even when the world is playing a different tune.  It means that there will be times when you will have to say no where everyone is telling you to say yes, in order to align with your needs and not make those around you happy. It’s not easy but it is priceless. Because when your actions, choices and relationships are aligned with your needs and values, you not only honor your individuality but also empower yourself to contribute to the world in a way that only you can. It won't happen in a day, even if you sit down today and answer all the questions. It is a lifelong process. But you will have taken a big first step towards something that is really worth it. Be patient and kind to yourself  if you don't know what you want right away. Especially then. I for one applaud you for this first step.

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