In the article below, our wonderful retreat therapist Jill Bayly explains how we can embody our true self if we’ve strayed from living life authentically.
Responding to life’s ups and downs can mean experiencing daily challenges and enjoying magic moments, often simultaneously. I am often inspired by the words of my clients. One such phrase comes to mind: “I would like some help in getting back to my authentic self, as I feel I have lost touch with who I am.”
Throughout these times, we often act and speak in ways that are out of character. We can become victims of emotional chaos and find ourselves believing our choices are limited. When we disengage from our true nature, we may fail to recall how to uphold a strong sense of self. Nevertheless, our authentic self will always attempt to call us back home.
Identifying when we begin to stray from our genuine character
We all wander away from who we are at times. We can lose touch with ourselves and choose to deliberately meander through unfamiliar, albeit temporary, ways of being. It is critical to regularly scrutinize our emotions, thinking and behaviour, and be honest in our appraisal. Are these working to endorse the life we believe is right for us? Do they support the authentic self we desire? When a habit or pattern is well developed, it becomes our instinctive behaviour.
Ways to foster authenticity
Although straying from our authentic self is a natural part of life, there are a number of ways to help stay close to your true self.
Surround yourself with positive people and environments
The people with whom we spend our time directly impact and influence our ability to view the world positively. Hostile environments and negative stimuli often produce unhealthy thinking and create a lack of confidence. A renewed way of life can help amend this broken path. By systematically changing one negative behaviour at a time, we can influence our future behaviour. This in turn translates to a greater sense of peace within our individual journey.
Align your thinking to a joyful sense of self
Whatever we think about, worry about, talk about or pay attention to will grow. Focusing consistently on a joyful sense of self helps to invite us to invite qualities like support, encouragement, hope and well-being into our life. These attributes endorse our inner strength and make it more difficult for vulnerable and insecure traits to reveal themselves when other people say and do unkind things towards us.
Stand by your principles in times of confrontation
Standing up for our principles in an assertive manner allows us to become familiar with our own complexity. It allows us to see ‘our part’ in challenging situations and in uncomfortable disputes and struggles. Consequently, this insight helps us to detach from the need to disapprove of others; we come to accept people for who they choose to be, rather than how we would prefer them to be. This action alone provides a space for us to remain close to our authentic self.
Authenticity invites us to look closely at our values and principles. What do we stand for and believe in? How do we demonstrate these values to the people around us? Do we speak up for things that matter in our lives? It pays dividends when we are able to review these questions often and ask ourselves what might need to change and which areas could use some attention.
Start living authentically today
Begin the journey back to your true self by making a mindful commitment to practice the following:
- Tell your truth, and let yourself and others know what your truth is.
- Be aware that every day you are making choices, and accept responsibility without blame for everything happening in your life.
- Give up blame, postpone judgement, and listen and understand before defending or attacking and making others wrong.
- Envision your ideal self. Keep in mind you are choosing the way you want to be.
- Be in touch with your body. Listen for ever-present clues.
- Question your limiting beliefs. Be aware that any time you tell yourself you cannot do something, you are right.
- Treat your growth and yourself with respect and patience, rather than irritation and judgement.
Setting aside time each day for self-reflection or writing these commitments in your daily ritual are some ways you can begin putting these into practice.
Sourced from Heart at Work (1998), by Jack Canfield and Jacqueline Miller (1).
Look to the future
It can be useful to create a clear picture of what you want for the future by creating a vision board or designing a dream sheet. Once completed, sharing your board with someone you trust can help to confirm and validate your commitment to living purposefully and walking your talk. When what we say and what we do are in alignment, we live in harmony with our authentic self and we are well on the way to living with our peaceful heart.
- Canfield, Jack. & Miller, J., (1998) Heart at Work. McGraw- Hill. USA.