In my past life, I changed my personality with the wind. I shifted to suit whatever environment I was in. I lost all sense of who I really was.
I was so worried about what people thought of me, that I did what everyone else wanted or expected of me. I did that for so long that I didn't even know what it was that I wanted anymore. Over time, I became unrecognizable.
Somewhere in my early 40's, I wanted to find myself again. Her are some things I did to be more authentic:
1. I stopped apologizing for who I was or what I loved.
I love what, and whom, I love. I don't apologize for who I am. This is the person I was create to be. When I apologize for who I am or what I love, I send the message to myself that I am not enough and need to be fixed. I spent lots of years apologizing for who I was; I felt like a burden to other people. Today, however, I realize that I don't need to apologize for the fact that I struggle with depression and anxiety. What I now understand is that I am exactly who I am and it's beautiful at times, chaotic at times, and sometimes both.
2. I have my own beliefs.
I am curious about things. I have been this way since I was a kid - about what I was told, what I heard and what I saw. I don't need to accept things as they are. I used to let what others said affect me a lot. I would even let others' opinions of me affect my self-worth. Today I find this funny because I realize that there is no "one and only truth." What people say and do is about them, not about me. I have learned that it is okay to be okay with my curiosity about life and form my own beliefs and opinions.
3. I ask myself what my motivations are.
This is something I have to do on a regular basis. My ego can look like a thousand different things, and if I don't slow down and try to understand what my motivations are, it can run my life. In my past, I was a people-pleaser, a caretaker, a worrier. I wanted people to like me and to think I was a good person. I used to say things that I thought people would want to hear. Is my motivation true to who I am? Or is it run by a need of approval? I am constantly checking in with my motivation.
4. I trust my gut.
If something feels wrong, there is a reason. There's been many times where I've ignored my gut feeling, and regretted it later on. I ignored my gut feelings in past relationships. I felt something wasn't right but just carried on until one day it could not be ignored any longer. If something doesn't feel right, there's always some truth to it. My body can sense when something isn't right for me. I pay attention to my gut instinct and trust that my intuition is onto something.
5. I spend time alone.
I spend time alone because I need to stop absorbing others' energies. I need alone time regularly to detox from the world, find center again and balance myself. When I constantly surround myself with others, it is impossible to ground myself. I make time for myself on a regular basis. I meditate daily. I go for walks by myself to the Post Office. I get to know myself, by myself.
6. I speak my mind.
If I hold back what I really want to say, I get sick. Seriously, I'll get a migraine. I need to speak my truth and be heard. This doesn't mean I need to always speak my truth, but finding one space where I can honestly and freely communicate is something I need. Usually it's a journal, or a close friend, and sometimes it's a support group. I'm personally a big fan of writing, support groups, coffee dates with friends, and therapy.
7. I surround myself with people who accept me exactly as I am.
It is really difficult for me to be my authentic self when the people who are around me are not those who accept me. I remember a time in my life when I discovered something new about myself and chose to change my way of life. Some people judged me and didn't accept me. I surround myself with people who respect and support me. I let go of those who are judgmental and critical of me.
8. I discriminate information.
I was not designed to swallow information whole. I make information my own. I don't absorb everything around me. I ask myself a couple questions: What does this information mean to me? Is it important to me? These things are what make information relevant, meaningful and important to me.
9. I know it's okay to let people down sometimes.
I am a human being; I am fallible. I will continue to make mistakes and let people down at times. Being true to myself means that I am okay setting boundaries with others, even if it feels like I am letting them down. People that I want around are people that will accept my boundaries and opinions.
10. I accept myself entirely.
I am loyal to myself. I am a beautiful, messy and lovable creature. We are all beautiful creatures, displaying our own unique array of colorful personalities. Our biggest challenge in life is accepting the whole spectrum of ourselves and of those around us. It's a journey of a lifetime, one that can not be easily mastered overnight. But the one thing I do know is this: it is entirely worth it.