by Anna Marie Trotman

Have you ever been in a situation that you didn’t like? It could be a job or relationship? Maybe you made a decision that just didn’t feel right? You felt out-of-sync, even if things on the surface appeared to be ideal. That’s often the feeling you get when being inauthentic, or acting in ways that aren’t congruent with your values and innate gifts and talents.

What Does It Mean to Be Authentic?

Authenticity requires self-awareness. Authentic people accept their strengths and weaknesses. They are connected to their values and act in accordance with what they hold dear. Living authentically liberates us from the pressures of always trying to be something we’re not.

Self-Awareness Is the Cornerstone of Authenticity

Authenticity starts when you set the intention to be genuine. There must be an awareness of what that looks like and a willingness to act in harmony with your values even when you feel vulnerable. Living in accordance to your values may also require you to make unpopular decisions or acknowledge parts of yourself that you’d rather hide, but in the end it allows you to live a more open, honest, and engaged life.

Creating an Authentic Life

Take some time to create a ritual around assessing your values. I do this yearly and call it my Annual Integrity Report. Reevaluating my core values forces me to think about how I am living my life more authentically. Below are some simple steps to help you evaluate what is true for you.

  • Redefine your values: It’s difficult to live authentically if you don’t know what you value and desire. Often, we hold on to the same values we grew up with, when we need to reevaluate what feels right to us as adults, we often miss the mark. Get clear on what you care about. This worksheet will support you in evaluating your core values and takes about a half hour to go through the exercises.
  • Cultivate an open mind: Authenticity flourishes when you experience the world from every angle. Uncompromising, good/bad thinking keeps you trapped in judgment and limitation, which causes you to shut down your vulnerable, authentic self. Challenge yourself to look at all sides of the situation.
  • Notice when you are being inauthentic:  Pay attention to the times when you are insincere in your speech, or when you are acting in a way that doesn’t align with your core values. Keep a journal in order to explore the fears and beliefs that may create barriers to your authenticity.
  • Trust your intuition: You will feel out of sync when you are acting inauthentic. Things just don’t feel right. Pay attention to those hunches, physical sensations, and impressions. Your instincts will tell you that you are not being genuine. When you are on track and authentic, you’ll feel that too.
  • Use your core values as a litmus test: If a decision isn’t in alignment with what you truly believe. For example, if you value peace and you’re running around like a crazy person, then tweak it or drop it some of your activities. You will be much better off in the long run.

The journey is ever shifting as you learn more about yourself and as your values change from time to time.  It may take years to learn how to live authentically, so have patience. Know that as you do the work you will keep moving into deeper levels of your being. Pay attention and enjoy becoming the “wild woman” you are here to be.