Authentic living is all about carving out a life that is based on your own special secret sauce.
It brings together your own personal needs, values, beliefs, and outlook in one vision.
It’s less about what that looks like to others, and more about what it feels like to you.
It’s so important because our overall well-being, the quality of our relationships, and the ability to reach our full potential often rest upon it.
Sadly, there are plenty of things that trip us up and stop us from simply being ourselves.
These are the behaviors that you need to wave goodbye to if you want to live more authentically…
1) Taking the easy way out
‘Anything for an easy life’ is certainly not the motto of someone with sincerity.
Because staying true to yourself often demands that you stick up for what you believe is right.
And as we all know, what’s right isn’t always what is easy.
We have to be prepared to stick up for ourselves and the way of life we most admire and respect.
Rather than bury our heads in the sand we must meet challenges.
Not only is this how we grow, but it’s also how we honor our authentic selves.
2) Letting people take advantage of you
In keeping with the fighting theme, authenticity also demands some kickass boundaries.
To protect ourselves and create nurturing and healthy relationships we must know where to draw the line in the sand.
Allowing people to cross it, push our buttons, or walk all over us is a huge form of self-betrayal.
You are denying your own needs and wants and placing someone else’s in place of them.
So that means stop pretending you “don’t mind” when really you do and learn to be in your own corner.
3) Taking other people’s opinions of you to heart
I’ll admit, I’m a fine one to talk.
I really struggle with the feeling that someone doesn’t like me.
I can mull it over too much, questioning myself and why they think this way.
But it really is true what they say:
“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”
That means we have to try to accept that we’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea — no matter what we do.
As long as being liked remains our top priority, we are constantly hyper-aware of how we come across.
And that’s bound to impact on your ability to show up authentically.
4) Keeping your thoughts, opinions, and ideas to yourself
When you live in constant fear of other’s judgements it can make you incredibly shy.
It seems like a better tactic to keep quiet and withdraw, rather than risk putting your foot in it by saying or doing the “wrong thing”.
The world is full of different thoughts and ideas. And you have as much right as anyone to put yours forward.
I’m not advocating for being a loudmouth or pushing your personal agenda on others.
For sure, there are circumstances when the wisest course of action is saying nothing at all.
But if we want people to see the real us, we have to be prepared to show them. That demands being vulnerable and opening up.
5) Letting other people easily sway you
Whilst it’s admirable to take on board the feedback of people we respect, admire, and care for the most in the world —we need to beware.
Being open-minded is one thing, but we shouldn’t let just anyone throw their unsolicited advice at us.
If you are easily persuaded, it could be a sign that you don’t really trust yourself.
You will quickly second-guess yourself rather than dismiss others.
But it’s important to be able to tap into our own inner truth, and that means sometimes disregarding other people’s in the process.
6) Living your life for other people
Creating your own definition of success and happiness is vitally important if you want to live an authentic life.
Otherwise, you’re always chasing someone else’s dreams.
It sounds sort of silly, but the reality is that more of us do it than we may realize.
We want our parents to be proud, so we study the subjects they think we should.
We want to impress our peers, so we try to achieve the things that hold value to them.
So common is this phenomenon that palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware noted that the top regret of the dying was this:
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
Don’t let it be your regret too.
Discover what makes you happy, and be daring enough to pursue it — for you and nobody else!
7) Trying to shift blame and dodge responsibility
There’s no way around it.
If you want to be authentic, you have to take responsibility for yourself.
Unless you can look at your actions, words, thoughts, and emotions with real honesty you’re never going to be able to reflect yourself with sincerity.
Excuses are the masks we try to hide behind.
Shifting blame onto others makes us a victim, rather than the creator of our life.
8) People pleasing
Some of the other behaviors on our list generally fall under the people-pleasing category.
That’s because it encompasses such as wide range of things. But all of which rests upon getting other people to like you, often at any cost.
And one of those costs is your authenticity.
It can tempt you to:
- Be as agreeable as possible, even when you think someone is wrong
- Apologize for things even when you have nothing to be sorry for
- Think that other people’s needs are more important than your own
- Stretch yourself too far by doing too much for other people
- Swallow the negative emotions you feel toward others, such as anger and frustration
The bottom line is as long as you’re always putting other people above yourself in every situation — you cannot live authentically.
9) Saying yes when you want to say no
How many times have you found yourself saying ‘yes’ when you really meant ‘no’?
It could be a favor that you’d rather not do. It might be to a date that you have zero interest in going on. It could be an event that you feel obligated to attend. If might be the extra work that you have no time to do.
So many of us worry that suiting ourselves makes us selfish.
Occasionally it does. But it also makes us authentic.
Turning things down that we don’t want to do is an empowering act. And one that we need to learn.
10) Living in denial
Think about it:
There is no way to live authentically when you are fooling yourself about certain fundamental truths.
That may be truths about yourself — who you are, how you feel, what you want. Or truths about the world around you.
Self-awareness is the key to kicking any nasty habits we can fall into around denial.
It allows us to lift back the veil and take an honest look at ourselves and our lives.
Tips for living more authentically
Ok, we’ve explored the things we need to ditch, but how can we become more authentic in our daily lives?
The following can help:
- Take time to define your core values
- Focus on your strengths
- Cultivate greater self-awareness of your emotions
- Practice mindfulness to be more conscious of the present moment
- Practice the things that make you squirm like saying no or disagreeing
- Challenge yourself in little ways every day to reveal the real you to others
- Surround yourself with supportive people who accept you rather than judge you
- Practice positive self-talk
Swap these new behaviors for the self-limiting ones on our list and you’ll be living more authentically in no time!