“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
At our core we all have an authentic self – the part of us that follows our heart and lives with passion and purpose. But as we get older and take on increasingly complex roles and responsibilities, it can often feel like we are drifting further and further from this true self. From the outside everything may seem perfect, but inside you feel out-of-sync and hear a small voice saying, “This isn’t me.”
The good news is that our true self is always there for us to tap into when we’re ready. With each new day we have the opportunity to live more authentically. It may be hard at first, but by taking small steps you can begin to reconnect with the person you know you are, and let her shine through in everything you do.
Acknowledge your passions
Unfinished novel tucked away at the bottom of your dresser drawer? Solo trip you’ve always wanted to take, but feel guilty about leaving the kids at home? Dream job that you never find the courage to apply for? Start looking for the parts of yourself that aren’t being properly nourished. If you dig a bit beyond the surface there are probably lots of things you enjoy, but don’t do because you believe you don’t have the time/money/talent/etc. Try making a list of anything that brings you pleasure, no matter how small. Include any activities that you look forward to doing. Don’t overthink it, just jot down whatever comes to mind.
Look back to move forward
If you’re having trouble finding things that get you excited about life, try looking back to your younger self. Often the things we loved in childhood or our teenage years are clues to what we’re missing from our adult lives. Did you love to draw or act or sing? Was there a subject you just couldn’t learn enough about? What did you dream of becoming when you grew up? Use these memories to help you discover more about your authentic self and identify areas for growth.
Take small steps every day
We often think living authentically means quitting our day job or running off to live on a deserted island. Not to say these aren’t valid options, or things you may want to work towards, but most of the time it’s small, everyday changes that allow us to begin the journey of being our true selves. Think about the clothes you choose to wear tomorrow morning, or what you decide to have for lunch, even what exercise you do. Every choice you make is another opportunity to be true to your authentic self. Let go of what’s fashionable and do what feels best for you.
Spend time alone in nature
The busyness of everyday life can leave us feeling exhausted and disconnected from ourselves. When we spend time in nature it’s easier to hear that inner voice that’s drowned out by the constant distractions of the digital world. Try to include time outdoors as a regular part of your routine, even if it’s just a short walk in the park. Give yourself this quiet time and space to allow your mind to wander.
Stop trying to make everyone happy
One of the most important steps you can take towards being your authentic self is to stop trying to make everyone else happy. This doesn’t mean you stop caring about others, just that you temper their needs against your own. For people pleasers this can be a real challenge, especially when everyone is used to coming to you when they need something. Remember, it’s OK to say no. Try it the next time your neediest friend calls wanting help with something she could really do herself. It will probably feel a little awkward at first, but probably a little good too.
Pay attention to your physical body
Often the signs we aren’t being true to ourselves present themselves in our bodies – feelings of tension, stress, even pain. The opposite is also true. When we are living authentically we feel relaxed, joyful, light. The body is always honest, so listen to what it’s telling you. If you’re struggling with tension and irritability try out our range of healing oils and other treatments designed to help relax your body and quiet your mind.
Let go of time wasters
Binge watching Netflix? Shopping when you don’t really need anything? Maybe even cleaning obsessively? When you feel you aren’t living the life you were meant to it’s important to look at what you are spending your life energy on. Once you do this then you can decide if it’s in line with your true self, or taking your further away. Replace unfulfilling activities with things that bring you a deeper sense of joy and satisfaction. If you get stuck, look back to your list for ideas.
Be honest with yourself, and others
When we feel that we aren’t living the life we envisioned for ourselves it’s often because there is something we aren’t being totally honest about. This can be one of the hardest things we do, but it’s a major step towards living an authentic life. Again, start small. The next time your partner or friends ask where you want to have dinner tell the truth rather than giving the answer you think they want. It may seem like such a little thing, but every time we are honest about what we want or how we feel it will become easier to be honest about the bigger stuff.
Reconnecting with your authentic self is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. But with practice you’ll find yourself living more in line with your true nature and feeling the joy that comes from being your true self.