“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are”
You would think that the simplest thing in life would be to be our genuine selves. Yet in recent years the concept of being authentic has been a regular topic of conversation in our Communication skills workshops. Whether I am working with individuals who struggle to be true to their values and beliefs at work or with those whose” I am what I take it or leave it” approach has damaged working relationships it is very clear that the art of being authentic, being your genuine self, is a complex but highly valuable skill to have.
The masks we wear
I have always valued the importance of being true to myself but also realised how difficult it can be at times. Sometimes I have found it “easier” in work and in life to play a role to get things done. Carl Jung called these Personas, saying as individuals we will sometimes compromise our inner self to fit in with our surroundings. Our Personas reflect the different roles we play in society and are a form of survival mechanism in the complex social whirlwind that is our lives.
So you could argue that it is ok to not be ourselves sometimes, to adopt a mask to fit in. But is it a healthy and productive way of being in the long term? I will be honest and say I sometimes consciously put on a mask to help me in challenging situations. However I have found that whilst it might sometimes be the easier option in the short term, it may not always be the best approach in the longer term. Studies have shown that work masks make relationship building more difficult. Putting on a mask can also take up time and energy and can even result in stress and burnout for those who are constantly having to take their masks on and off.
It is important to help people see that their true self is worth showing in every situation. Taking off your mask allows those around you to fully appreciate everything about you, the good and the areas we are still working on. Being authentic doesn’t mean we are perfect, it just means that we bring all of ourselves, our values, beliefs, skills and opinions, to every aspect of our lives.
4 steps to being authentic
So how can you bring true self into all aspects of your life?
1. Develop Your Self Awareness
As with all personal development a great starting point is developing or enhancing your self awareness. How can you be yourself if you don’t know who you are, what you value, what you believe? Do you know what your strengths and limitations are, bringing those strengths to all aspects of your life and working honestly on your development areas.
2. Communicate Honestly
Authenticity in the face of others requires an honest and respectful way of communicating. It is important to help others to be their authentic selves too. Aim to listen to and understand those you are communicating with as well as saying what you truly think and feel.
3. Believe in Yourself
We are all born with self belief, but somehow as we grow up our confidence in ourselves and our abilities can sometimes be eroded, by people and situations and also by ourselves. You can work to reclaim that feeling of invincibility that we had when we are young, a natural non arrogant feeling that “Yes I Can”. Be your own inner cheerleader, remind yourself in the most difficult situations to look at the positive, to give it a go. Stretch your comfort zone slowly but surely, showing yourself on regular basis what you are truly capable of
4. Be Bold, Be Confident
One last step to being your authentic self, step up and give it a go. Show people who you are and be proud of that person. Find your natural place in the world, even if the journey isn’t always smooth, it will be true!
For more information about how Limitless for Life can help you build your confidence to be your authentic self see our website www.limitlessforlife.co.uk or contact Alison Burgess on 07931 556 167.