What does it mean to be your “authentic self”? I was asked this question at my latest session. After realizing with all my friendships and relationships, I altered myself to like what they liked and do things they liked, am I finally being my authentic self?
Well first of all, who is my authentic self? How do I know that? The labels that identify me are wife, mother, daughter, sister, teacher and hopefully a friend. I’m Irish American. I’m no longer a Catholic, I consider myself Agnostic. I’m a Democrat. I’m a pet owner. I’m a frustrated writer. I’ve been called an athlete, but I stumble on that one. How many of these labels did I give myself and how many have been placed upon me? How many are points of view? Aren’t these just categories that I’d check off on a sheet? All of these things tell people who I am, but how do I know who my authentic self is? I’ve spent so much of my life trying to get people to like me based on what they like. I’ve tried to make myself interesting so that I’d have their approval. But did this actually bring them closer to me or just me to them?
To find my authentic self, I need to know who I am. What can I change and what I can’t. What are my personality traits, my values, and my beliefs? What are my needs and my goals? What is my signature strength? Who I am and what I do have to line up if I’m going to find and be my authentic self.
Don Miguel Ruiz shares centuries of Toltec wisdom in his book The Four Agreements. To apply this wisdom, choose to create these profound agreements with yourself:
- Be impeccable with your word. Think before I say something to other people and mean what I say. The same with what I tell myself. If I wouldn’t say and mean it to others, I shouldn’t be doing the same to myself.
- Don’t take anything personally. It’s not all about you.
- Don’t make assumptions. Readily acknowledge what you don’t know and have the courage to ask questions. Carefully examine the evidence. Don’t attribute intent to others. Retain a healthy skepticism as you avoid cynicism. Develop, refine, and constantly apply your own well-founded theory of knowledge.
- Always do your best. Do all you can while you recognize you can’t do it all. All you can do is all you can do. When you have truly done your best, there is no reason for shame. It’s ok to goof off if you do your best when it matters the most. Apply your time and effort toward your well-chosen and enduring goals.
Mr. Ruiz also offers 5 questions to find your authentic self. So let’s give this a go.
So, who is my authentic self? I’m working on that. I need to start by asking myself “Who am I?” What does it feel like to be me? If I could see myself from an external point of view, how would I describe myself? What are my gifts, my talents, my characteristics? Next, I need to think about who I admire? Who are my superheroes? People I’ve met in life and those who I admire that I may not have ever met. What is it about them that I admire? Finding out what my natural talents and abilities would follow. Maybe next time I write about this subject, I’ll have some answers to share.