The heart is not so easily changed, but the head can be persuaded.
-- Pabbie the Grandfather Troll from the movie Frozen.
What is your "authentic self"? If you Google it, many descriptions can be found -- but it all funnels down to the same thing: it is when you act from your true core self, without fabrication, obligation, or any other thought process that is driven by negativity, fear, or the aforementioned "crap" (see February 28th post).
Your authentic self is when you act from your heart with good intentions. It may not always appear perfect, emotionally or grammatically correct, or even be the most uplifting experience - but it is from your genuine, natural self. This entry is an example: I could have done a significant amount of research and created a pie chart with 20 of those Google references, however, instead I am writing from my authentic self and my heart. And, usually, when we act from that place it is more simple, soulful, and engaging - regardless of the message.
Here are 7 Ways to Stay in Your Authentic Self (and not let the crap "should" all over you):
1. Know who your authentic self is, and stay with it.
If you are kind, open, and a good listener, then trust if you are being unkind, closed, and interrupting that you are not in your authentic self. Ask yourself: Who am I in my heart? What adjectives describe who I am? Reliable? Easy-going? Determined? What traits have I had in the past that I want to get back to? Adventurous? Compassionate? Grounded? Write it all down and then set an intention to stay with these traits, regardless of the situation. (Note: if you are writing things down like "mean, judgmental, butthead" or anything along those lines, get some help immediately.)
2. Listen to your body.
Notice the signs when you are not in your authentic self. Your head can mess with you -- it can try to convince you to feel differently -- to "should" all over yourself (I "should" do this, and I "should" do that). But the body does not lie. So when you start to notice that wrenching feeling in your gut, that tightness in your chest, clenching of your jaw, or if your nails are dug so hard into your hands that you are creating little gorges -- pay attention. It is a sign. And then do something about it, like:
3. Consciously breathe and repeat a mantra.
Begin to breathe, and slow the moment down. Pick a mantra to link to your breath, like "Trust Yourself, [insert name here]," or "Stay Authentic." As you are breathing, inhale the mantra into your body, then exhale the mantra down through your body.
4. Stay out of the C.A.J.E* and in Reality.
Analysis paralysis, mind screw, spiral down - whatever you like to call it - stay the heck away from it. I am talking about the C.A.J.E (Criticism, Assumption, Judgment, Evaluation). If you are in the C.A.J.E, you are not in your authentic self and your truth. Instead, practice Reality Awareness*. Start with the phrase, "The reality is... " and stay with the facts. No evaluation or assumption, just the facts.
5. Be Congruent with your inner and outer self.
Don't fall for peer pressure or do things that do not feel good to you. Some examples: don't curse; jump off of a bridge; do 17 shots of Tequila; hang out; get in the car with a drunk; make out; have sex; attend an event; nod or agree; streak; tease; accept a friendship on Facebook, educate about a topic, vote, etc. -- unless it is truly aligned with the items you have listed in #1.
6. Do most things out of desire, not obligation.
There are obviously some exceptions where one is obligated. For example: sometimes I don't feel like hanging out with two kids under five all day, but as their mother I'm obligated or I will face the emotional and legal consequences (I love you, babies, sometimes you just drive me crazy). And sometimes you have to go to that business dinner or visit the in-laws. Just keep it minimal and make choices mostly about desire.
7. Practice daily grounding, especially before doing something challenging. Here is a quick morning regimen -- it will take less than 10 minutes:
a. Wake up and either lay right there in bed, or stand up.
b. Close your eyes.
c. Take 5 Balloon Breaths:
(1) Put your hand on your lower belly. Imagine there is a balloon in there. Inhale and fill the balloon up, pushing the belly out.
(2) Then, Exhale and feel the balloon deflate as if there is a string pulling your belly button back towards your spine.
d. Do 5 Stress Relief Breaths (SRBs):
(1) Inhale any stress up into the throat
(2) and let it go on the Exhale with a long sigh (about three times longer than the inhale).
e. Take 5 more Balloon Breaths.
f. Identify your mantra (see #3).
g. Set your intention to Stay in Your Authentic Self and repeat your mantra when necessary.
Next Post: Day one of my prison sentence continued...
Stress Relief Breath and Reality Awareness © 2011 No Stress Foundation.
C.A.J.E © 2011 Aimee Zakrewski Clark
Photography by Meg Daniels