There’s this song by the rapper Eve that has always been one of my favorites because in one verse, she says something very powerful:
“I do what they can’t do: I just do me.”
We try to be someone we’re not or force ourselves into situations that are not the best for us with actions, habits, and lifestyles that don’t match our truest values and highest aspirations. Are we living genuinely?
The Consequences of Living Inauthentically
On the social side, we can find ourselves hanging out with the wrong people or trying to force ourselves to fit into groups or relationships that don’t serve us. This doesn’t mean other people are necessarily “wrong”. It just means that we’re not compatible or we have different goals and ways of being. There are sometimes people who observe that something is different with us and seek to manipulate or take advantage of us. Can we blame them? We’re putting ourselves in a place we don’t belong and practically giving them the opportunity just by being there.
As a consequence of putting ourselves in the wrong social circles or in bad relationsihps, we find ourselves constantly in bad or unhealthy situations. Because we are living a lie, we’re hurting ourselves and consequently others. The mere act of avoiding our highest ideals and being honest with ourselves is a lie – it’s a lie to others and it’s a lie to ourselves. Who wants to live a lie? This type of fundamental dishonesty does nobody any favors. We just find ourselves burning bridges and hurting others – even if we do so unintentionally.
Physically, we’re wasting time and energy on thoughts and activities that don’t help us be the person we really are. It feels like we’re wearing ourselves out doing the things that eat up the precious time we have left in life. After all, doesn’t it make more sense to spend the time and effort being and doing what we really desire than simply avoiding it? Sometimes, we do this unconsciously: spinning our wheels forcing our way into situations that we have no business being in and as a result, we feel like the world is against us and that everything is supposed to be a struggle all of the time. It’s physically exhausting to avoid our greatest potential.
When we get caught up in situations and relationships that slow us down from realizing our truest potential, we feel frustration because we don’t know where to start or don’t understand why things aren’t working out. We feel shame because, if we’re aware, we realize we’re living a lie – hoping that nobody realizes our dishonesty and calls us out. There’s anxiety because we feel deep inside that something isn’t right and we just can’t seem to put our fingers on what is wrong. And of course, there is anger – anger toward people who are busy leading their own dishonest lives or those who are actually brave enough to be themselves. These are just a few emotions that one can experience in their struggle against who they are.
Steps Towards Living A Genuine Life
In the inspirational words of Marianne Williamson,
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Taking stock implies taking an honest inventory of what is good and right in our lives and what is wrong and unnecessary. Do we spend more time on unnecessary thoughts, relationships, and activities that waste our time and energy? Don’t just stop at listing what do we have to be thankful for. Start listing the things that are worth living for. Ask yourself, “If I were to stop distracting myself from x,y,z. What could I do in its place that’s really me and worthwhile?” What’s missing from your life in terms of fulfilling thoughts and actions?
Subtract what doesn’t work and use what does to help you go to the next step in your life. Sometimes, this implies letting go of people who bring out the worst in us. This can also mean dropping destructive behaviors and emotions that stunt our spiritual and emotional growth. Quite simply, this means letting go of our attachments to things that aren’t necessary for us to succeed. Liberate yourself to take with you only what you need – and in fact, it usually isn’t much – in order to realize your potential.
Embrace & Accept
Give yourself a spiritual hug and say, “I accept you.” When we embrace ourselves – our faults and our best – we are quicker to embrace and accept others for their mistakes, their differences, and their best. This doesn’t mean we’re going to be best friends with everyone. It just means that when we let go of what doesn’t work in us and accept ourselves for who we are in this moment, we less likely to judge others harshly. We learn compassion for ourselves and for others.
There’s a peace about living honestly and truthfully that translates into our relationships. As a result, we’re more likely to attract others who think and act similarly and help those who are hungry to do the same.
Talk About What You Want
I catch my clients and friends doing this more often than I care for, so it’s worth pointing out that in order to live authentically and to keep our minds focused on our truest and highest ideals: we must speak of the things we want rather than the things we don’t.
This means to stop saying, “I don’t want to do this. I don’t want that.” Start saying, “I’d like this. I’d like that.” Just hearing “I don’t want” feels negative. Saying, “I’d like to see, I’d like to do,” feels much happier and unconsciously opens ourselves and others to creative opportunities and ways of thinking. Free your mind simply saying, “I’d like.”
When we focus on what we want we begin to develop a clearer vision of ourselves, our lives, and our relationships. With clear visions in our minds and hearts, we can move forward to realizing specific goals and visions. Having a clear vision allows us to have a reference point when we’re faced with difficult decisions that test our courage, our values, and our motivations. We are literally opening our minds up to was is possible, rather than focusing on avoiding the negative. When we say what we don’t want we’re not defining a concrete idea, thereby acting and speaking haphazardly attracting what it is what we don’t want instead of what we do want. Focusing on what we don’t want causes us to act in “avoidance mode”: we’re too busy avoiding the negative possibilities that we’re not acting towards the positive ones.
The aforementioned solutions are just a few toward living an authentic life. Naturally, transforming our self perceptions takes time, awareness, and dedication. Acting based on our truth is challenging and will put every part of our being to the test. In the end, there’s nothing more rewarding, liberating, and inspirational than having lived a fulfilling and truthful life. What’s your truth and are you living it?
Image Credit: Chaiwat