What does it mean to be authentic? The word is so casually tossed around these days that it’s hard to know. I can tell you one thing it isn't: easy.
Being true to who we are might be one of the most challenging hurdles we face in our lives. The consequences of not being authentic to ourselves can be absolutely monumental if we let our truth slip away. Living as our most authentic selves allows us to live truly in the moment. We're able to make decisions based on our natural instinct for the feelings that burn inside us. Whenever these opportunities arise and we live honest to who we are, we grow stronger and more influenced by ourselves vs other people. These moments don't come easily, though. Authenticity is an ongoing conflict with the outside world, what we think it wants, and our inner being.
Every day we are faced with so many different ideas of what our lives should look like and how we should act and behave, so much so that finding what feels true to ourselves can be tricky. We are also ill-informed by our peers, especially due to social media and its stranglehold on our universe. Some might look like they're leading authentic lives, but much of what we witness is a facade. The only truth you can count on? Your own. You create it and it's yours alone.
This fake exterior we create because we're not sure how to listen to our inner voices. We can't turn down the noise around us to understand what we truly want and need. Noise is the struggle. It's what makes us believe we want something we don't. It's keeping up with the Joneses. It's posting an Instagram story to make sure everyone for sure knows we've got the best life. Noise is what keeps us up at night, longing for better days and nights. We have to quiet the noise.
How do you do that? It takes time, persistence, and resilience. For me, I realized that my body told me everything I needed to know, mostly in the 24-hour period right after a big decision is made. Listening to how my body felt when I made a choice started making everything more clear for me. I'd develop a stomach ache immediately after a fight with my husband, or wake up after a tough call drenched in sweat. Sometimes it's that I can't sleep because I know in my heart something is off with the choices I made. In the beginning, I just nudged these ideas out of my mind and said it wasn't connected. I ignored it, I ran away, and mostly...I avoided it, as my therapist would tell me.
We sort of KNOW these things in our guts, but fear prevents us from listening to them. Fears that are mostly not grounded in fact but fiction. Sometimes we waver and decide slowly, trying to make the right choice. When we hesitate it's because all that noise has had its volume turned down and we're listening to hear that inner voice. Sometimes we're strong and we can pull through and hear her, other times, not so much. If you can already listen to your inner self, you should harness it through any means possible. If you can't, you should learn to meditate.
Everyone should meditate.
Living an authentic life means forming a deep level of self-awareness. This is because, in order to become who we are truly meant to be, we must be able to reflect on both the best and worst parts of our lives and existence. We need to reflect on what isn’t working and then remove those negative components from our lives. We need to focus on the good, the things that are working, and try to bring more of that into our life. Meditation helps you gain perspective so you know which categories things fall into.
Knowing what feels wrong is just as important as knowing what feels right. Sometimes trying the wrong thing is what we need to get back on the path we need most. We aren’t meant to always figure out every detail of our lives on the first try. Sometimes we need to fail and get back on course again to see where we might need to steer ourselves next. These errors in our ways are actually not failures at all, they are just redirection to the route that suits us most.
Just as it's important to be authentic in your day-to-day, it's also important to be authentic in business, because it builds trust with your customers. People want to feel connected to the brands that they buy from. They want to feel good about their purchases and where their money is going. When a consumer knows a brand stands for the same principles and values, they feel aligned with that company. It makes them want to support them more and become a return customer. Loyalty is built on making an authentic brand. It's what makes people trust you so they come back.
Authenticity also enables people and customers to understand exactly what you do and why you’re the best person to do the job in a clear way. It shapes the way you work with people and the way people work with you.
Authenticity is when we align the things we want to be with the way we share ourselves with the world.
You don’t have to live a perfect life to be perfectly authentic to yourself. Be authentic, be you. There's no one else like you.