To be your authentic self is to be in a place of alignment where everything you say and do feels right. It's as if you're in the ﬂow of a river, moving gracefully downstream, maneuvering easily around any obstacle that gets in your way. When you live authentically, you will often feel comfortable, secure, loved, understood, and at ease.
I have come to realize that the search to be truly authentic is a never-ending journey. The more we come to understand ourselves, the more we discover who we are, what we truly feel, and what makes us tick. And all of this changes with time and experience.
Since each human being is unique and no two people are exactly the same, one person's authentic self will always be different from another's. It's important to feel conﬁdent in your own uniqueness. If you aren't prepared to let go of the pressure to ﬁt in it will prove to be more challenging to identify who you truly are.
The first step in uncovering your authentic self is getting familiar with your characteristics and behaviors. It's critical, at this point, to drop all judgments. Things are no longer good or bad -- they just are!
Most of us have been taught that our strengths are good and our weaknesses are bad. We've been taught that we should improve on our weaknesses or ﬁx them. But what if those personality traits that others identify as problems actually feel okay to us? For example, being disorganized can also be seen as ﬂexible and free. Being ﬂaky or ditsy can also be seen as happy and giddy. Being rigid can also be seen as focused and driven. If we give up these attributes because others judge them as negative, does this not mean that we're denying our true self? The things we feel comfortable with are what make up our authentic self, not the ones others tell us we should feel good about.
There is an ancient document of Hermetic teachings called The Kybalion, and one of the seven principles in this document is titled the Principle of Polarity. It embodies the idea that "everything is dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites." When you look at two things that appear to be opposites, The Kybalion tells us that what you're really seeing are two extremes of the same thing existing in a continuum. Take hot and cold. Both are extreme forms of temperature with varying degrees in between (cool and warm, for example). Because there is no ﬁnite deﬁnition of hot or cold, it's difﬁcult for people to agree on what each should feel like.
What each person experiences, then, is based on his or her perception. This is the same for human character traits. Some have a greater tendency to be responsible, while others are more irresponsible. Once you've given up on judging either of these as good or bad, you can try to get a sense of where you ﬁt on the continuum. If you tend to lean more toward irresponsibility, then ask yourself: How do I feel about this aspect of myself? If you're comfortable with this quality, then it may very well be part of your authentic self.
Keep in mind that all traits have positive and negative aspects. Being too responsible can have its drawbacks, just as being too irresponsible can. The object here is to become familiar with all of your characteristics and check in to determine how you feel about them.
On the other hand, there may be some traits you know that you possess but don't feel good about. For example, you may ﬁnd yourself embarrassed and self-conscious around others, as I did throughout high school. You're likely unsure of where these apprehensions come from, but you know they don't seem natural to you. When you're in a place of embarrassment, you typically don't feel good, which means that you are out of alignment with your true, genuine self. While you don't need to be self-conscious when speaking up in a group, and there is no reason to feel embarrassed any time you're singled out, your subconscious brings up this response automatically. Until you're able to shift toward a place of self-love and conﬁdence, you'll continue to come off as an insecure and awkward person -- even though that's not who you truly are.
Once you're able to identify these characteristics, you may choose to dig deeper and search for the underlying issue that has caused this part of you to become out of alignment. Maybe you were once singled out in a crowd and made to feel foolish and insigniﬁcant. Or perhaps once when you did take a chance and speak your mind, you were shut down and criticized. Until you can make peace with your past and forgive those who hurt you, you'll continue to be haunted by these experiences and have trouble expressing yourself or taking a stand. But once you do the inner work to overcome whatever it was that brought about this inauthentic character trait, you'll be free to live more authentically as the conﬁdent, free, and happy person you truly are.
Take Action Challenge:
Do you let the opinions of others determine who you are and how you show up? Are you tired of living someone else's dream or walking someone else's path? It is time to embrace who you authentically are and show your greatness off to the world! For the next 21 days, remove judgment of your characteristics and behaviors and focus more on how they make you feel. Find a place on the continuum that makes you feel liberated and allows you to feel accomplished. Live from that place as often as you can. Embrace all of who you truly are, even if others think you should be something different. The more you live the authentic YOU, the more your dreams and desires will become your reality!
Go on and show the world how amazing you truly are.
Part of this blog is an excerpt from Michael's new book Empowered YOUth: A Father and Son's Journey to Conscious Living (Hay House, Oct. 1, 2012).
For more by Michael Eisen, click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.