Many of us spend time and energy trying to be something that we are not. But this is a move against soul, because individuality rises out of the soul as water rises out of the depths of the earth…Power begins in knowing this special soul, which may be entirely different from our fantasies about who we are or what we want to be.
Today, for the sake of us all, please declare your independence. Be willing to show up as authentically as you can, as the very essence of you, and go your own way. This will serve the world in ways that are much more valuable than you showing up disguised as someone you are not.
Living someone else’s version of your life can be an exhausting, weary experience, like being on stage and in character all the time. An authentic life, in contrast, is one in which you feel comfortable in your own skin, at peace with your choices and actions because they come from a place deep within you. It’s a life that serves others in a way that only you can. It’s a life that nourishes rather than depletes you.
That said, authentic living is not easy either. It takes a willingness to get quiet and listen. It takes trust, not in the booming, know-it-all voices that surround you each day but in the still, quiet voice inside. It takes bravery and a desire for freedom in the likely event that your authentic path requires that you take a risk or two, or takes an unconventional twist or turn and does not meet the approval of your family, friends, or society at large.
Collectively, we need the absolute best of what you are here to bring us, and your absolute best comes from a place of authenticity. It’s time we prioritize this process of getting to know who we really are, of carving out the time and space to figure out what authenticity means to us. This quiet revolution of independence requires nothing more than a little letting go, a cozy spot for reflection, some quiet time and a notebook and pen. Here are a few tips to get you started on your own authentic journey:
- Strip down. Finding and following your authentic path is more like remembering than it is like learning something new. It is getting to the very essence of who we are. This may involve removing layers upon layers of personal and societal expectations and false beliefs about who we are at our very core. Be willing to really examine everything you believe to be true, everything you believe to be possible. Many of the beliefs and ideas we carry around with us are not helpful or true but are simply well worn paths in the brain that become our default settings. Be willing to let go of what doesn’t serve you. There are many ways to do this, journaling being one of my favorites, but it is not easy work. There are many good professionals out there who can help you through this process. Find a therapist or coach who can work through your core beliefs if you feel you could benefit from a little help along the way. I also recommend the work of Martha Beck and Byron Katie. Both have very inspired things to say about how your core beliefs affect your choices and actions.
- Make Space. As it is on the inside, so it is on the outside. And vice versa. Clearing our physical space can have a profound effect on our ability to live authentically. Sometimes we purchase things in order to fill an empty space inside ourselves or to find an identity or a sense of self-worth through the items we own. This kind of clutter is draining, both energetically and spiritually. Once we realize that the thing we just purchased is not going to fill any internal void or provide us with a sense of self, it can leave us feeling even emptier than we felt before. And so we look for more things to purchase and the cycle continues. Know this: There is nothing you can buy that compares to the feeling of getting to the very essence of who you are. This work is about uncovering and remembering your true nature, not looking outside yourself for a pre-fabricated identity to purchase. You already own your authenticity. You already have everything you need in order to set forth on your own path. With that in mind, go through your living space on a room by room, closet by closet, drawer by drawer basis and ask yourself if the things that surround you are beautiful and/or useful. Do you want them in your life? Get rid of the unwanted and the unnecessary. If there are items that you are unsure about, box them up and set them aside in a garage or storage space for a few months. See if you miss them. If not, feel good about letting them go. Enjoy the space you’ve created and the sense of peace and possibility that comes with it.
- Create a Sanctuary. Your authenticity depends on having a safe haven to explore what it means to be yourself. Find a cozy place in your home where you can curl up with a cup of tea and a warm blanket and write, dream or simply enjoy a few moments of quiet. This may seem trivial but having a comfortable place to call your own, even for just a few minutes a day, can make the difference between you taking this time for yourself or choosing not to. It doesn’t need to be anything big, just a corner of the couch or a favorite chair and a soft blanket will be just fine. In the warmer months, consider bringing your cozy nest outside if weather permits. Nature is a lovely compliment to quiet time.
- Get quiet. In our modern world, we are bombarded with voices telling us what is best for us ALL THE TIME. Between the internet, social media, podcasts, radio and television, not to mention your well-meaning family, friends and co-workers, there is no shortage of advice out there. But ultimately, you are the authority on you. You have the answers. Cultivating a practice of quiet in your day is absolutely essential if you want to want to live a more authentic life. We need to eliminate the other voices for a period of time if we want to hear our own. This can be a quiet cup of coffee or tea in your cozy sanctuary or it can be a more formal meditation practice. Or something in between. Start with whatever sounds doable and appealing to you.
- Write. Quiet is wonderful, but quiet plus writing is magic. To say that journaling has helped me find my authentic path would be a profound understatement. It has been the most critical piece in finding my way back to myself. As a journal writing instructor and as someone who has greatly benefited from the practice in her own life, I encourage you to settle in to that cozy sanctuary you created with a notebook and pen and write. Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer. Journaling is more about the process than the product. It’s about you writing your way to a deeper, truer sense of self, not writing the next great American novel. There are several journaling exercises and prompts available on my website if you aren’t sure where to start. See where they take you.
- Pay attention to what resonates with you. Psychologist Carl Jung developed a principle called synchronicity which suggests that the universe is conspiring to work with you to uncover your authentic path. It does this by leaving you clues about where to go next. They may take the form of song lyrics you hear that resonate deeply or a quote or poem that brings about a feeling of recognition. They may also take the form of an overheard conversation, a line from a book, or a coincidence or chance meeting that seems too meaningful to be random. PAY ATTENTION TO THESE OCCURANCES. They are telling you a little something about what resonates with you on a soul level. Whether you believe that synchronicity is the universe itself working with you (an absolutely fun way to go about living in the world…I highly recommend it) or whether you believe that it is simply your subconscious mind “noticing” things that it finds valuable that are not yet known to your conscious mind….what is actually happening here isn’t the point. You don’t have to believe in magic in order to reap the benefits of paying attention to what resonates with you or strikes you as meaningful. Write these things down in your journal and see what kind of patterns begin to develop.
- Be willing to trust and take inspired action. Since you are the ultimate authority on you, at some point you are going to have to trust what you begin to uncover about yourself. This can be difficult, particularly if it goes against societal norms or the expectations of those around us. But trust builds on itself, so if we can begin to hear and compassionately acknowledge that still, small voice inside and act on it in small ways, we will begin to see the rewards of this deep listening practice, namely a more authentic, satisfying, peaceful existence.
So do us all a favor and go your own way. Where will this journey take you? I have no idea. But you do. So please…make space, listen and BE YOU. Find out what that means. We need you, just as you are. And whatever light shines at your very core, we need that too, just as much as you need to share it. Get to the business of making space and listening, of finding your essence and putting it out there. We are all waiting.