Do you feel like you have to put on a front around other people? Do you give in to other people’s expectations of you, even though this doesn’t feel right? To live authentically is much harder than it sounds; most of us look for, and need, the acceptance and approval of others to feel like we belong.
A lot of us get caught up in living a life that is not our own, because it’s easier or more comfortable. But what if you could live an authentic life? What would your authentic self look like?
This article is about how to live more authentically and be truer to yourself. We will talk about the importance of living an authentic life, as well as what that means for you.
- Authenticity leads to greater happiness
- Not being authentic is a choice
- Be true to yourself
- Stop blaming other people
- Value your time and energy
- Know when to walk away
- Be your own person
- Stop comparing yourself to others:
- Think for yourself
- Take care of the things that matter to you
- What being authentic DOESN’T mean.
- Know yourself and be honest with yourself.
- Stop worrying about what other people think of you
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Authenticity leads to greater happiness
Living an authentic life leads to a greater level of happiness, though making those changes isn’t easy to begin with. However, if you are looking for a happier life, then authenticity is the way to go.
When we are being true to ourselves, our sense of well-being increases and the stresses that often accompany living inauthentically (i.e., fear of judgement) disappear. We feel more comfortable, content, and at peace with who we are as people because there is no need to conform anymore.
The truth is that living an authentic life comes from within. It’s about identifying who you really are and being true to it, not what others may want or need from you. The main thing stopping us usually is the fear of different opinions on how we live our lives.
So how do you do this? How can you live a more authentic life? We will look at twelve ways to help you put it into practise.
Not being authentic is a choice
We have a choice in life about how we live and whether to be true to ourselves or not. The problem is that most of us choose not to be authentic, even though we know deep down inside that this isn’t what makes us happy.
We are surrounded by pressures to be a certain way – how to look, how to behave, what to eat, what vehicle to drive. Social media and advertising encourage us to buy into a stylised version of ourselves, and many of us feel that this ‘packaged’ life is what we ought to be aspiring to.
Consequently, most of us have very little authenticity in our lives. Every day we spend our time doing things that we don’t really want to do.
It may be that we feel pressured to do what other people expect us to do. Or perhaps we are doing things just because we have always done them that way, without question. We live our lives for other people instead of for ourselves, and all the while we never become who we really want to be.
Be true to yourself
What are your core values and beliefs? Does the way you live your life reflect those values? Make sure your actions and reactions line up with your core values.
We can control both our attitude and what we do about it, our behaviour.
If we want to live an authentic life, then we should be open and honest with ourselves. If your actions make you feel like you are faking it, you’re not being true to yourself.
Following through with your own values and beliefs means not forcing yourself to be a certain way.
Stop blaming other people
If you find yourself complaining, and blaming others for your situation, ask yourself: if this really true, is it all someone else’s fault? Could I have handled things differently?
By not taking responsibility for your situation, you are making yourself into a victim. When we blame others for our predicament, not only are we handing control over our lives to someone else, but we’re also refusing to accept how we have contributed to it.
Self-reflection is a good starting point to being a more authentic person. Consider this question to help you with self-reflection and blame:
If I don’t like something, I need to look inward and ask myself why I don’t like it, and what am I going to do about it?
Value your time and energy
Don’t squander your time and energy on things that don’t matter. You have a lot of opportunities to spend them more profitably.
Don’t get involved in other people’s gossip or give your time and attention to those who are just living in the past. It’s important for you to know when an argument is getting too big, or if somebody has a problem with you that they’re not willing to work out themselves. You don’t have to take on all of their problems!
Know when to walk away
You don’t have to tolerate other people’s ‘stuff’. Do you have a tendency to take on other’s people’s issues? Why do you do that? Instead, let them figure it out – it’s their responsibility, not yours! If they don’t, that’s up to them. Turn the other cheek and walk away.
Own what’s yours and don’t try to fix other people. Once you start to do this you will be amazed at how much tension and stress you remove from your life. It will free you up to do the things that are important to you.
This is not the same as refusing to help others around you! It doesn’t mean you only look after yourself. Rather, don’t let other people pass on responsibility for their difficulties to you.
If there is someone in your life that truly isn’t good for you, get them out of your life. Nothing positive comes from relationships that make you feel bad.
Be your own person
Say what you mean and do what you say.
Listen to yourself before anyone else: Don’t let anyone else dictate what you should be doing or thinking. Listen to yourself first and foremost. Who is guiding your actions?
Stop comparing yourself to others:
Comparing yourself to others is not conducive to a more authentic self. You’ll never feel happy if you’re constantly comparing what you do or have with what someone else does or has.
You need to be your own best friend. It’s important that you tell yourself what’s good about you and recognise your achievements and strengths.
Think for yourself
This extends to how you express yourself too: be your own person with what you say. Be honest and frank when talking about yourself, your ideas, and opinions. Speak your mind and own it! We don’t all agree on things, and that’s OK, but at least stand by your own viewpoint.
Which external viewpoint are you buying in to? Have you accepted your parents’ viewpoint as your own, or perhaps your partner’s? Is that really what YOU believe?
Do you find yourself immediately accepting other people’s opinions? Or perhaps blindly following someone else’s advice?
Those opinions may well be things you might agree with but consider them first. Ask yourself if these are viewpoints that feel right to you, or do they bring up doubts in your mind?
Thinking for yourself means reaching your own conclusions, not routinely adopting everyone else’s.
Take care of the things that matter to you
Don’t be afraid of doing something different or taking a risk: don’t let others tell you that something is impossible. Worse, don’t tell yourself that something is impossible. As soon as you say that, you’ve already decided that you can’t do it, so of course you never will.
Many things are possible if you’re willing to take risks and make changes.
What being authentic DOESN’T mean.
Authenticity doesn’t mean you say no to everything just because you don’t feel like doing something. It’s not an excuse to just wriggle out of commitments or forget responsibilities. You still need to be accountable.
Authenticity does not mean that you can’t have fun or do things for yourself. It just means to make these choices from a place of self-respect and wisdom rather than fear and obligation. Authentic living is about valuing your own needs over what others want or expect from you.
You don’t need permission to live the way you want.
Know yourself and be honest with yourself.
Sometimes facing up to the truth can be challenging. We all try to hide our vulnerabilities and pretend that we are strong, even from ourselves. In fact, strength comes from being honest with ourselves and others. It takes strength to open up and show our true selves. No, this doesn’t mean we begin to whine and complain about our problems. We just stop hiding behind the ideal we have been projected. Take off the mask! This includes showing how you feel, even that is feeling vulnerable or weak.
Stop worrying about what other people think of you
All of the above points are easier to put in place once you stop worrying about how other people see you, and what they think of you.
Imagine that you didn’t care at all what other peoples’ opinions of you were. How would that change how you live? Would you drive the same car that you do now, or wear the same clothes? Would you eat the same food, or do the same activities that you do currently?
We don’t even realise it, but we allow many of the ways we live to be determined by other people. We’ve all done it, and we do it to others too.
Authentic people stop caring about what other people think of them. Authentic people also no longer try to change other people.
Some people have a hard time living authentically because they are so focused on pleasing other people, or, they are running away from their own feelings and needs. It’s not an easy skill to master but the rewards can be life-changing! When you start living according to your true values rather than what others want of you, you will feel much happier.
We looked at 12 different ways that you can start living authentically right now. What do you think about the advice for living more authentically? Did you just read it and accept it, or did you stop and think ‘Do I do this? Do I want to be like this?’. Maybe you connected with certain points, but not really with others. The first step in being more authentic is deciding for yourself what you’re going to do with anyone else’s opinions!
Share in the comments below! We would love to hear from you.