What if I told you I know someone who has the ability to make you perfectly happy for the rest of your life? Wouldn’t you want to meet them? Now what if I told you that person is you?
Your authentic self knows precisely what you are longing for in order to live your best life. Think of your authentic self as the you-est version of you, with your natural tendencies, your hard-wired personality, and your unyielding personal preferences. Your authentic self is the part of you that also craves salty over sweet, prefers dinner in with a film, over a night out. It’s the part of you that knows what you love and knows precisely how to give it to you (if you let it).
For many years, I lived outside of my body, disconnected from its interiority. Staying busy every second with the inconsequential noise I could come up to keep the focus outside. I didn’t appreciate that my body was a multilayered canvas as I stayed unconnected to my thoughts, instincts and desires. Unfortunately, all too often, the voice of my authentic self was frequently drowned out by all the “shoulds,” “have-to’s” and “got-to’s” in my head. Now, being authentic is something I cherish. I’ve learned (and I’m still learning) to let go of who I think I should be. I’ve accepted that my authenticity is the most awesome part of me. That goes for all of us.
Your body is the only vessel you have in this precious life you’ve been given, which allows you to experience the physical world, whilst also housing the deep, internal place of the spiritual world; your soul. When you disconnect from your body, you are also disconnected from your soul. For me, it wasn’t until a diagnosis of RA, and a subsequent commitment to meditation and breath work that I began a journey inward.
Living authentically means owning your reality, facing your fears and chasing wholeness over happiness. We often fit ourselves into assigned roles and separate body and soul. Through this separation, we hide our authentic self; not just from the world, but from ourselves. When we treat our bodies like guest houses, we contemplate visiting the guesthouse but we are too busy and time rushes past. Then, one day, we finally open the door and see that the inside is in terrible disrepair. Overwhelmed by what we see, we often close the door and vow to return when we have more time, more energy, or more hope. The internal cobwebs continue to grow as the repair work becomes more complicated.
We can deny the needs of our internal selves for only so long before we begin to experience the collateral damage. Trust me, I know. The small voice inside is always there and won’t accept your avoidance and disconnection with your authentic true self. It is through the work of going inside and coming back out that we reconnect with our authenticity. Through that process, that reconnection, we come full circle and remember our dreams, identify our passions, and our spiritual path as we begin to attract the people and the activities that support our authenticity and our path.
So, how can you begin the work of realigning with your authentic self? Here are some suggestions:
Respect your guesthouse
When your physical self is healthy and vibrant it’s easier to connect with your authentic self. So be a good host to your guesthouse. Tend to it by nourishing it with nutrient dense food, keeping it clean, and offering regular access to its welcoming environment. A happy, healthy, and vibrant body creates a strong link to your authentic self.
Breathe your way back into authenticity
Meditation, yoga and breath work are great ways to begin to become more present with your body. Find qualified teachers and join some classes or download an app or audio guide until you find the right fit. Mind body practices help to strengthen and tone the body and mind, whilst also bringing awareness to the holding patterns we have built up over a lifetime. Through that awareness, we can begin to let go and discover the deeper spaces of knowing.
During the practice, listen and feel the sensations in your body. What do you feel? Where does your mind go? What is the narrative that spins in your imagination? Paying attention, staying present to the moment, to what is occurring, even when it is uncomfortable, is key. From there you can begin to identify and unravel the ties that may be binding you, that are holding you back from being your authentic self.
Take a solo journey into nature
Nature has a way of softening our barriers and creating a space for reconnection. As you plan your nature journey, make sure you have enough time to experience a beginning, middle and end. Schedule a few hours or even a day alone in nature. Take water to stay hydrated and a journal and a pen. Take a moment in silence at the beginning to set an intention for this time, then begin your journey into the unlimited space of nature.
Be open to signs and metaphors presented to you along your path, remembering that nature doesn’t speak directly. Bring back something that spoke to you; a wild flower, a stone, or piece of wood that will remind you of your journey. Sit quietly at the end with your thoughts and experiences, taking some time to journal about them before returning home.
Be your highest self
Remember who you used to be before your thinking limited you. Sometimes societal pressures, cultural expectations, and our own “should’s” cause us to forget or deny or authentic self. Make a practice of giving your self permission to follow what you love instead of always doing what you’re “supposed” to. Keep a journal and write down your dreams and aspirations often, making yourself accountable to making them a reality. Consistently choosing joy over “should” keeps you aligned with your authentic self and creates a hot wire to happiness in your brain.
Make space to woolgather
After listening to the “shoulds” for a long time it can sometimes be difficult to hear that small, quiet voice that knows what you actually want and love. Instead of trying to force your authentic self to speak up, try giving it a little space. Think of a physical activity that you enjoy but that requires a minimal amount of mental engagement; for me it’s usually pottering in the kitchen or going for a hike in the forest. Choose an activity where your body is active but your mind is free to woolgather. Make space for your authentic self to quietly whisper its musings to you. Start to take notes about what it feels like when you’re being your authentic self. Tap in a little bit longer. Feel it. Be conscious of it. Appreciate it.
Connect with your gut
Your body cannot lie to you. It always knows when you’re living authentically and when you’re not. Have you ever had a gut feeling or butterflies in your stomach? These sensations emanating in the belly show how our brain and gut are connected. Think of a time when you felt you had to do something even though you didn’t want to. How did your body feel during that time? Any sensations of stress, pressure or tension are red flags. Now think of a time when you felt full of purpose, joy, and excitement. What did you feel in your body during that time? I would describe feeling open, expansive, and light-hearted. In simple terms, these two sets of physical sensations are how your body tells you when you are aligned with your authentic self and when you are not. Heed those signals.
Tell your truth and be kind
This one can be tricky. To remain aligned with your authentic self you need to be willing to speak the truth and be kind. Many of us are afraid to tell our truth because we fear it will be unpopular. For a long time I tried to be someone else. I tried to live up to the stories I’d built up around myself. I was always looking for validation and approval.
Start small. Start by telling the truth to yourself. It can begin with something as small as simply stating your preference for dinner instead of just going along with old, unhealthier habits. Pay attention to how that truth feels and how your body responds to that truth. See if you can come up with some teeny-tiny steps you can make towards living your truth, which will in time allow you to be braver about future choices.
Find your tribe
Someone once told me, “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.” I’ve never forgotten this and I’m reminded of it often. One of the most loving ways to realign with yourself is to surround yourself with kindred spirits who are able to remind you of who you are. Stay close to the people who value the real, authentic, you, who really get you, love, value, and appreciate you, and who understand your desire to live authentically.
Living authentically requires us to be brave enough to be vulnerable. To let ourselves be fully seen by the world for who we truly are, and exposing true thoughts and feelings. It’s a practice that is cultivated with a degree of effort, and consistency, just like anything else.
There is only one person in this world who truly knows how to make you happy and that’s you. So if you are looking to open yourself up to some serious joy and high vibrations, take the time to invest in your relationship with yourself. Your authentic self is the one who knows where to find it. Thankfully, our authentic self is never lost, only hidden.
What ways do you stay aligned to your authentic self? Id love to know. Feel free to write a comment below.
“Authenticity demands wholehearted living and loving – even when it’s hard, even when we’re wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enough, and especially when the joy is so intense that we’re afraid to let ourselves feel it. Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.” – Brené Brown