How aligning our internal sense of self and our outward behaviour creates a sense of wellbeing.
Showing up as authentic requires courage and a willingness to make oneself vulnerable. It means letting our real selves be seen, almost like taking our psychological clothes off in public. People who practice authenticity create huge benefits for themselves and build more profound connections with others.
Authenticity was important for me when I decided to write a book that I hoped would affect the lives of other people in a deep and uplifting way. After I had published When Life Has Other Plans…Discover the Hidden Gifts, readers asked me if I wasn’t afraid to admit my weaknesses and failures in public. I told them that I wasn’t, that my stories were meant to give others an opportunity to resonate with the joys and pains which are an inevitable part of life. But that I also wanted them to see that challenges can be overcome without breaking us.
I have spent a great deal of my life pretending I was someone else in order to fit in and please other people. First, I had to please my parents, then my very strict teachers, my boyfriends, husband #1, the people in my new culture, and so on. They just couldn’t understand me, my personality, values, and spirit. By being a fake on the outside I started to collapse more and more on the inside until I didn’t know anymore who I was. That’s when I crashed and had to reinvent myself.
This collapse of my old personality was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I had to become authentic in order to be able to live with myself – the person I can never get away from. I had to be able to look in the mirror and tell myself all the wonderful things which I had hoped others would tell me. It was so hard at the beginning that I thought I would choke on my kindness to myself.
Yet it also felt like I was given a new canvas on which I could paint a picture of who I wanted to be and how I wanted to feel about myself. By using the basic structure of my personality, I could now focus on the real me who was kind, caring, intelligent, fun-loving, playful, and so on. This basic rebuilding took ten years, one step forward, two steps back. Slowly a new picture appeared that I liked. But it is a never-ending process.
I also realized that I could survive without the approval of people I didn’t really need in my life. I use my trusted mantra “I bless you and I let you go” to make room for new friends and acquaintances who wanted to make a difference in the world. Now I have a handful of trusted individuals who accept me as I am.
In closing I would like to say that being authentic isn’t easy in a world where fake news and fake people get the limelight. Yet we need to ask ourselves what price we’re paying playing roles that don’t allow us to be who we really are. If we are being authentic, we are serving our own wellbeing. It does require courage and some soul searching but the empowering results are definitely worth the effort.