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Do you find it difficult to stay authentic?

Is being authentic much harder than it sounds?

How do you be an authentic person?

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde.

This is a great saying by Oscar Wilde, but how do we stay true to ourselves? If you haven’t read my last two posts about what authenticity is and why being authentic is important, do check them out. It’s difficult to be an authentic person when you don’t know what authenticity means to you. Plus, this post will build on the previous two posts.

Living an authentic life is actually not that tough. What you need is some awareness and a little courage to face the truth. Below are five ways to help you be more authentic.

How to be Authentic and Live an Authentic Life

1. Overcome your fear of being judged.

One reason why people aren’t authentic to others is that they are afraid of being judged. They are afraid of how other people will perceive them. Sometimes, we may not even know how fearful we are unless we are super conscious of our emotions.

I have this quirk. I love to use pencils. When they become really short and are hard to use, I’ll tape two ends of the pencils together and make a longer pencil. It’s not that I couldn’t afford new pencils. It’s just kinda fun for me and I did this since young. But a few times, I noticed when I was giving tuition, especially to those older students, I picked up that double-sided pencil and I wanted to put it back. I felt embarrassed! I didn’t realize I was so afraid of letting others know my quirks.

Be less judgmental. It helps.

The best way to overcome this fear is to be less judgemental yourself. Be less judgmental not only towards others but also towards yourself. This fear of being judged is none other than your own projections. What you think others may say about you is actually what you are judging about yourself. When you have less self-judgment, you would begin to notice that others judge you less too. When you accept yourself, you find it easier to be yourself and be true to yourself.

Furthermore, the outcome is usually exaggerated. In the end, I took the courage and used my special pencil. Only one student noticed it and we had a great laugh. It’s not life-threatening but it certainly felt so prior to using that pencil.

2. Listen, but be the one to make the final decision.

Being authentic isn’t like what the idiom says, “my way or the highway”. It’s doesn’t mean being fixated on your own ideas and values and shut yourself off from what other people have to say.

Yes, don’t succumb to pressure from other people and stop following what they expect of you. But do listen to other people’s ideas and suggestions because some of them may be valuable and what you need. They may point you to a better path. Accept that you don’t have the best ideas all the time.

Accept that sometimes, you don’t know what best for you.

But ultimately, you have to make your own decision. Listening also includes listening to your own voice and determine what feels right for you. The voices in our head are conflicting in nature. That’s why you need to listen and observe your thoughts and learn how to discern what’s best for you. Don’t follow everything which your mind tells you.

The more you listen to yourself, the better you are at connecting with your intuition and spiritual self, and the more authentic you become.

3. Accept the truth at every given moment.

To live an authentic life, you have to accept the truth at every given moment. Truth meaning whatever arises for you. Even if you perceive yourself as a spiritual or a kind person, it doesn’t mean you will be free from negative emotions such as anger and depression. At any given moment, if you are feeling angry, your blood is boiling and your chest is tightening, then that’s what you are feeling in the moment.

Whatever kind, spiritual or empathetic images you have for yourself, that belong to the past. To be true to yourself, you have to acknowledge the emotions which are arising in your body. Saying to yourself or pretending that “you are fine, there’s nothing wrong”, doesn’t help. You have to acknowledge and accept your resistance towards the situation before you can let it go.

Accepting that you can’t accept is better than pretend to accept something you don’t.

Accepting the situation would be the best option. But if you can’t accept the situation, the next best thing you can do for yourself is to accept that you can’t accept the situation. It’s definitely better than denying your feelings towards the situation. It’s the more authentic thing to do too.

4. Update your values regularly.

Having and following your own values system is a way of being authentic. However, it’s a work-in-progress. It’s ever-changing. What you value in your 20s may not be the same as what you value in your 30s and 40s. You may value adventure in your 20s, but in your 30s and 40s, you value work and family. We shouldn’t stick to a set of values for the rest of our lives.

Whenever you discover new truths about yourself, update your values system.

Your values system is formed based on past information and events. But your past self is not your authentic self. Your authentic self is your current self. It grows with time. It doesn’t stay the same. Your awareness of your authentic self also determines how authentic a life you can live. In the eyes of other people, you may have changed. But what really changed is your awareness of yourself.

Previously, if I were to know that animation wasn’t right for me, I won’t have gotten into it in the first place. But because I didn’t have the information at that time, I based my decision on the limited information I had. Once I had the information though, I could have updated my values system, but I didn’t. I thought I could still help the industry in another manner and it didn’t end well.

5. Make it a daily practice.

Ever since I recovered from depression, I made it a daily habit to review my day. Every evening, I will check if I was out of alignment during the day. I want to know whether my body, mind, heart, and soul are in harmony with one another. This helps me to stay in integrity with myself.

A daily cycle helps to stop things from getting out of hand.

In hindsight, I realized the main reason I ended up with depression is that I didn’t check in with myself daily. I allowed the problem to snowball into something so huge which I couldn’t handle.

A daily cycle is more effective than a weekly or monthly cycle. It’s a short enough period for us to recall what has happened during the day and easy to make into a habit. We can also harvest what we learn from each day and apply it to the next day.

To be an authentic person, here are a few questions you can ask yourself during your daily review:

  • Did I say what I meant today?
  • Were there any emotions that I hid or denied today?
  • Were my actions true to my values today?
  • Was I able to listen and observe from a neutral place or did I react to the external circumstances today?
  • Did I accept what was presented to me or was I in resistance today?
  • Was I seeking approval or was I true to myself today?

Featured Photo Credit: be strong / Felicí in Wonderland ~