I often talk about authenticity being a helpful tool in prioritizing your life and decision-making so you can live a simpler life. Your simpler life won’t look like anyone else’s if you are being authentic.
But, who are you? How do you find your authenticity?
In my 20s and 30s I spent a lot of time finding myself. I took many personality quizzes. I read books on uncovering your true self (and even did the exercises). I laid out my day according to who I thought I was, ie not a morning person, lazy, creative.
When I read back on those journals of that time, I feel like a different person. I have grown and changed. If I had continued to think of myself as an unorganized, flake my life would be different today. I would have had a hard time decluttering my home and starting a business. I wouldn’t be helping others with their lives.
Staying stuck in who we think we are, means less growth and more stagnation.
I had an insight the other day that we don’t have to go hunting for who we are, we need to see who we are in each moment and how much we are tamping ourselves down.
Sunday I was getting dressed for church and I felt like wearing a vibrant, orange dress with embroidery. My next thoughts were, “It’s too much and I will be overdressed for a normal church service”. I started tamping down the authentic me. I wore the dress anyway as I know the ego was trying to keep me safe from embarrassment. But, it wasn’t the truth. And I received quite a few compliments on my dress.
Say you are invited someplace. Perhaps you get excited about how fun it sounds until you talk yourself out of it because it will be too hard to make it happen or it might be scary if you don’t know a lot of the people, etc. The real you says yes, while the ego/fear/programming tells you to forget about it.
Or perhaps it doesn’t sound fun at all, but you give an automatic yes and resentfully attend.
Often who we think we are is comprised of patterns based on ego, fear and upbringing. The authentic you can actually change in an instant. We don’t have to follow the well-worn paths. Notice the mind trying to keep you safe and release those thoughts.
The year before Covid, for some reason I started to get extremely nervous when I went on stage for choir, worship team or in plays. Thinking about performing would make me nauseous. And I would often get hot flashes as well. It probably stemmed from the time I got a hot flash in choir that was so bad I had to run outside before we sang. In front of the whole church. I would feel terrible even thinking about singing, something that used to bring me joy.
Covid cut off being on stage and it cut the pattern I had gotten in. When the time came to go back, I briefly felt the fear again, but told myself that is not who I am anymore. I started to think beyond myself and ministering to others. The anxiety went away and I had a wonderful time in choir this year.
I think when we are too focused on who we think we are, it’s more difficult to change. We want to keep what we think our personality is exactly the same as always. We don’t want to step outside the known and our comfort zone. “That’s just who I am. I can’t be on time…be generous…try new foods.” We no longer surprise ourselves. And we try to live based on the safety of how we’ve always been.
What if you noticed who you were being in each moment before the mind gets involved trying to steer you towards your safe patterns.
Maybe you try something new, open up to someone or compliment a stranger. Maybe you wear something you usually wouldn’t or follow your curiosity about something. You might feel drawn to walk barefoot in a stream. Notice who you are before you start putting on judgments and stories.
I’m not saying follow all your impulses without thinking. I am saying notice your impulses and then see it if is fear, your judgments or your patterns stopping you from being authentic in the moment.
Think how much more fulfilling and authentic your life could be if you followed your heart more often instead of living stuck in patterns. Notice. And decide who you are going to be.