Aligning with your authentic self – what exactly does this mean and look like? Let us explore this together!
First off, let’s begin by defining authentic. The act of being authentic means being true to your own personality, values, spirit, and expressing yourself, as you are – regardless of the pressure to act otherwise. If folks are new to this idea and way of thinking, it will take time to practice in their life.
Why is this important? Authenticity involves being honest with yourself and others. It is an embodiment of one’s true essence. When we are able to show up in the world just as we are, we often find daily stressors easier to navigate because we have more tools to use, we experience increased understanding and empathy for others, and we are more attuned to our values. We also may feel pulled to offer ourselves more grace and self-compassion because we have a better sense of what would serve us in a helpful way (click here for more info).
There are endless paths one could take when exploring their authenticity.
I’ll share a few ideas that come to mind. While reading this, I invite you to adopt an open mind and curious attitude – you may receive something unexpected!
Re-connecting with childhood interests
One avenue someone could try includes reconnecting with their childhood interests, hobbies, and enjoyments. Reminiscing on your childhood, is there something special that sticks out to you? Did you love reading? Were you fascinated by small insects, nature, wildlife? Was there a sport or activity that spoke to you? Were you in awe of different cultures, countries, lifestyles?
Reflecting on and re-visiting joyous memories could be a way of re-connecting with your creativity and child-like wonder! Remain curious and see if these prior interests still spark something within you J.
Explore the experience of being drawn in
Have you noticed that you tend to be ‘pulled’ or ‘drawn in’ by certain things or in specific situations? Maybe a mentor or influential figure, topic of interest, a place, a passion, a career …
I encourage you to investigate the things that you feel inclined to learn more about. Maybe you feel this connection for a reason – it may align with your life’s path and journey! How exciting that is, to ponder.
Choose your own adventure
An insightful professor whom I admire dearly, often says this phrase in each class - “Choose your own adventure”. 4 words that hold such power, intrigue, wonder… What comes to mind for you when you hear this phrase?
This is a gentle reminder that you are allowed to walk off the ‘beaten path’ of the status quo in life. You do not have to follow the path that is expected of you, from external pressures. Honour what feels good and right, for you!
I believe it is important to go with the flow of your own life – whatever that means to you. It may not serve someone to follow the fish in the stream, if that doesn’t feel right or fulfilling. Swimming upstream may seem daunting, but who knows, maybe you can discover a wonder that you never knew existed before!
As we start to dive into our own authenticity and practice it in our lives, we may come across resistant or unhelpful influences. Such influences may be a social setting, a friend or family member, a job, etc. Throughout life, we cannot necessarily predict or avoid some of these things happening for us, even though we may want to. When they do occur, practicing boundary setting can be helpful for our personal health and wellbeing.
Boundary setting is a skill that we can all implement in our lives, at any stage! It can be applied in any area of life that you feel could benefit from more structure, prediction, balance, etc. Perhaps you feel drained, taken advantage of, frustrated, resentment; this may be a sign of where you need more space, respect, understanding, etc.
Thinking about such areas in your life, it could be of use to write this down in a journal, discuss with a therapist, and offer yourself self-compassion. Boundary setting has many aspects, including assertiveness and self-compassion.
For more in-depth information on this topic, check out our blog post here.
Learn about the mind-body connection (click here)
Have you experienced a bodily sensation that you thought may have been a gut instinct? Was that sensation trying to communicate something to you? Was it due to your emotional state, such as anxiety, were you hungry?
When we are more attuned to how our body feels throughout the day, we can understand what its cues are trying to tell us. Tools like mindfulness, deep breathing, and yoga can cultivate a deeper mind-body connection that can help us learn how to ‘tease out’ some of these sensations (find out more info here).
As mentioned above, there are SO many tools and practices we can try out to see what fits for us. Feel free to check out a TedTalk on this topic here.
Ultimately, where you are right now at this very moment, is just right. It is the best place to start exploring these ideas and practices. The power, wisdom, ability already resides within you. You have all that you desire; the path is learning how to unfold and uncover this.
As Ram Dass says in his book Be Here Now,
“I think the message is that you don’t need to go anywhere else to find what you are seeking.”
About the Author
Hello friends! My name is Caitlin and I am in my last year of the BSW program.
I am excited for this opportunity with Healthy U, and grateful to help others on their journey. Topics that interest me include mental health, neurodiversity, and micro-practice counselling. I love hiking, paddle boarding, camping, traveling, connecting with people, and adventuring the mountains in my free time! Have a great year and hope to see you around!