Staying True to You: Tips Toward Authenticity
The month of October is about seasonal change and, for some of us, that includes the holiday of Halloween. Wearing a costume and taking on a different role can be a liberating experience this time of year. And that’s truly fun to play around in!
However, sometimes performing this way feels uncomfortable and inauthentic, and I’ve learned it’s important to recognize those moments when I’m feeling a little “off.”
What I Mean By Authenticity
Each of us has our own unique makeup. Our upbringing, experiences, and DNA all make up this completely custom, personal blueprint of ours. That’s also where our core values come to live. And it’s what I mean when I say authenticity. For me, authenticity is who I am at my core — who I am when I am most present.
But being present in today’s super-busy, highly competitive, digitized culture can make slowing down and being fully present a challenge.
From my book, Inner Affirmations:
“I firmly believe that the biggest problem we all have is getting in our own way, especially when it comes to just being in the present moment. My friends and colleagues can confirm what I’ve said time and again — that I spend much of my life in my head. I’ve spent so much time up there in my head that I don’t always allow myself to trust what I’m feeling in my gut or what I know to be true deep down in my heart.
After all, logical thinking is much more highly regarded in our society than emotions.
That logical, rational thinking, while motivating me to be successful in business, caused me grief and pain in my personal life. It wasn’t until I started to trust the emotions I was feeling (along with a healthy dose of logic) that I was able to help myself, and reconnect with what I truly value and know to be true.”
In other words, I discovered a more authentic way of going about the world when I slowed down long enough to listen to myself. But I also discovered that slowing down is something that takes practice.
What Does Authenticity Feel Like?
We learn too early on to stop trusting our own instincts — going with your gut is sometimes frowned upon, especially when we have an abundance of information at our fingertips at all times.
Humans are intelligent creatures — to ignore our instincts seems dismissive. I think we’re capable of sensing when things feel “off” and don’t feel authentic to us.
When I struggled through my marriage with a narcissistic abuser, I remember feeling so much discomfort that I thought I’d crawl out of my skin.
I wasn’t living authentically.
I didn’t realize this at the time, but now I know that my discomfort started because I stopped being present. Before this marriage, I’d journaled for years, and developed my own non-dominant handwriting practice as a tool for self-care. I loved the practice for a few reasons.
Be With Your Authentic Self
More from Inner Affirmations:
“Non-dominant handwriting boosts your brain activity. If you normally write with your right hand, the left side of the brain controls that activity. When you start using the opposite hand, you activate the other side of the brain. This actually strengthens the connections between your two brain hemispheres; essentially, you’re having to think extra hard about using a hand that you don’t typically use. And overall, you’re strengthening brain activity in both sides of your brain. (Everyone wins!)
Non-dominant handwriting means having to think more carefully about each word, even each letter, that you write down. It is an act of mindfulness … Mindfulness is quite the trend these days. Intentionality exercises — anything from breathwork to yoga to meditation — all do a great job of s-l-o-w-i-n-g you down.
In these types of practices, you’re forced to focus on just being in your body. Because you get out of your head, away from distracting thoughts and a racing mind, your ego also quiets down and falls away into the background.
This kind of activity allows you to be with your authentic self, without your chattering, demanding ego getting in the way.”
I stopped my non-dominant handwriting practice when I was married, because I was made to feel shame around it (for being too New Age-y). And so, it wasn’t until the end of that marriage that I picked up my non-dominant handwriting practice again.
And that’s also when I started living my life in a truer, more authentic way.
Living More Authentically
It’s always surprising how the simple act of slowing down can bring so many benefits — the most impactful benefit to mindfulness might be the connection you develop to your own inner strength.
And there are a lot of ways to reconnect with yourself this way, so that you’re living a fuller, more authentic (even more sparkly) life: Yoga, breathwork, and meditation are all great ways to be more present. Taking just a little more time to fully connect with yourself pays off big in the long run.