The Authentic Walk
Summed up in two words, Authenticity is this – Being Yourself.
We hear so much about this, and yet it’s so hard to grasp how complex this process can be.
Authenticity isn’t just about wearing your own style of clothes, and having your own tastes, dreams and desires – it’s about owning who you are and claiming the inherent power of who you were created to be.
Life can throw us so many “shoulds” – we’re basically born with a set of guidelines. How to act, how to feel, how to respond, how to love, how to express, when to talk, when to be quiet, what’s acceptable, what’s unacceptable. Many of us over time begin to silence our inner voice and all its truths, and understandably so. But it doesn’t serve us, and it doesn’t serve the world around us.
This path of authenticity leads us to places we didn’t even know we wanted to go to until we got there. People that have been waiting for us to reach them. When you follow what feels real, true and authentic – you end up where you’re inevitably meant to be.
Walking authentically isn’t always easy, or straightforward. It’s never black and white and there’s a whole range of grey shades to navigate through. But it’s a process, and it doesn’t have to be perfect – because Authenticity recognises that we were never born to be perfect and that’s okay. We just have to be who we are. And the beauty of it is that our own authenticity is the best gift we can give to the world, too.
And as most things with life, the walk with authenticity begins with one thing – a simple step.
How to Be True to Yourself
Move in your own direction.
Do you ever feel as if you’re wearing a mask?
Perhaps you feel that you have to act in a certain way around your boss, or say certain things to your colleagues, so that you’ll be accepted. Instead of being yourself, you’re constantly playing a role to fit in, or to impress others.
Most of us have gone through times like this, at some stage or another. Instead of behaving in a genuine way, we tell people what we think they want to hear, and act in ways that go against our true nature. In short, we’re living inauthentically.
Living and working this way is tiring, dispiriting, and confining. It can also hold us back from reaching our true potential.
The opposite of this is to live and work authentically. When we give ourselves permission to be ourselves, we can live free from others’ ideas and expectations, and we can choose our own course in life.
In this article, we’ll examine authenticity in depth: what it is, what it entails, and how we can be more authentic in our own lives.
What is Authenticity?
It can seem that there are as many different definitions of authenticity as there are psychologists, philosophers, and scholars. However, a common definition is that being authentic is living your life according to your own values and goals, rather than those of other people.
Put simply, authenticity means you’re true to your own personality, values, and spirit, regardless of the pressure that you’re under to act otherwise. You’re honest with yourself and with others, and you take responsibility for your mistakes. Your values, ideals, and actions align. As a result, you come across as genuine, and you’re willing to accept the consequences of being true to what you consider to be right.
Why Be Authentic?
It isn’t always easy to live authentically. At times, being true to what you know is right means that you go against the crowd. It may mean being unconventional, opening yourself up for the possibility of others hurting you, and taking the harder road.
On one hand, it does mean missing some opportunities – you do have to accept this. However, in the longer term, it’s likely to open up many more opportunities; opportunities that simply wouldn’t be available to someone who has been seen to be shifty, conflicted, vacillating, or inauthentic.
Living an authentic life is also vastly more rewarding than hiding your true self. When you live authentically, you don’t have to worry about what you said (or didn’t say), how you acted, or whether you did the right thing. Living authentically means you can trust yourself and your motivations implicitly.
There are several other benefits of being authentic:
Trust and respect: When you’re true to yourself, you not only trust the judgments and decisions that you make, but others trust you as well. They’ll respect you for standing by your values and beliefs.
Integrity: When you’re authentic, you also have integrity. You don’t hesitate to do the right thing, so you never have to second-guess yourself. Who you are, what you do, and what you believe in – all of these align perfectly.
Ability to deal with problems: When you’re honest with yourself and others, you have the strength and openness to deal with problems quickly, instead of procrastinating, or ignoring them altogether.
Realizing potential: When you trust yourself and do what you know is right, you can realize your full potential in life. Instead of letting others dictate what’s best for you, you take control of your life.
Confidence and self-esteem: You can trust yourself to make the right decisions when you’re being genuine and doing the right thing. In turn, this leads to higher self-confidence and self-esteem; greater optimism; and more life satisfaction.
Less stress: How would you feel if, every day, you said what you meant, stayed true to yourself, and behaved in accordance with this? Imagine the happiness, and self-respect you’d feel! Being authentic to yourself is far less stressful than being someone you are not.
Note: Honesty is an important part of authenticity. However, there’s a distinct difference between being brutally honest and being truthful with others.
In her 1994 book “The Dance of Deception,” psychologist Dr. Harriet Lerner distinguishes between these concepts. She states that honesty can sometimes represent our uncensored thoughts and feelings, while truth requires tact, timing, kindness, and empathy with the other person.
We should always strive to be truthful with those around us, since others sometimes view brutal honesty as aggressive, judgmental, or even arrogant. Uncensored honesty can also jeopardize our relationships and careers.
Being Authentic in Different Roles
If you’re like most people, you may have a number of different identities at work and in your personal life. For instance, you’re a leader to your team, a co-worker or friend to your colleagues, a team member to your boss, and an expert to your clients.
Since you have several roles to play in life, do you have to act the same in each role, in order to be authentic?
It’s an important question, especially since many of us seem to have seemingly conflicting “selves.” In a chapter titled “Authenticity” in the 2001 book “Handbook of Positive Psychology,” Dr. Susan Harter argues that our personalities can’t be “fixed.” So, we need to be flexible, and this flexibility can allow us to change and grow and realize new opportunities.
However, our true self remains the same no matter what situation we’re in. Just because we have different roles to play doesn’t mean that we have to wear different masks along the way.
How to Be Authentic
You won’t find and develop your authentic self overnight. Rather, it’s a lifelong process of discovery. Take the following steps to make a start:
1. Live By Your Values
Living authentically means that you live according to the values and beliefs that you hold most dear, and that the personal goals that you pursue emerge from these. Your first step is to identify your core values, and then to commit to living and working according to them. You then need to set personal goals and career goals that align with these.
Sometimes you might have to make an ethically challenging decision; this is when knowing your core values will help you do the right thing. Our article on ethical leadership will help you find your way through these situations. (See our Book Insight into Ethics for the Real World for more on this.)
2. Identify the Gap
Is there a gap between who you are now, and the person you know you could be?
For instance, do you put on a mask when you’re at work? Perhaps you’re more abrasive with your team than you’d like to be, because you think that’s how a leader gets things done. Maybe you adopt a flippant attitude, because you don’t want others to think that you’re boring, because you take a serious attitude towards your job. Or, maybe you’re brimming with ideas that you never share, because you’re afraid that your team will shoot them down, and this leaves you feeling stifled and unhappy.
Try to identify these gaps by writing a list of words that describe the qualities of the person you know you can be, and by thinking about how closely these reflect how you actually are.
Then, choose one word from this list that you want to start working on – for instance, perhaps you want to be more “open.” Use personal goal-setting techniques, and resolve to work on this every day. It’s more realistic to set small goals and work on one trait at a time than it is to try to transform your entire life, all at once.
3. Live with Integrity
It takes courage to develop and preserve integrity. Start by analyzing the daily choices that you make. You will often intuitively know what the right and wrong choices are: your goal is to learn how to listen to that “small voice” – that sense of unease – that tells you that something is wrong. Study each choice that you make, and ask yourself which one will make you feel good about yourself the next day.
Living with integrity also means that you take responsibility for your actions, including your mistakes. Own up to the choices you make, and work tirelessly to right any shortcomings.
4. Communicate Honestly
It also means not playing games: you speak your mind and don’t rely on cryptic hints or other tactics to get your point across. (You can learn more about the secret games that people can play, and how to avoid playing them, in our article on Transactional Analysis.)
Communicating honestly also means keeping your promises – if you give your word to someone, then treat it as an ironclad bond. Never make a promise that you can’t keep.
5. Don’t Make Assumptions
It’s easy to go through life making assumptions about others. Where judgment isn’t strictly necessary, try your best to suspend your judgments. Let others’ actions speak for themselves, and try to take their words at face value.
You might find that as you make an effort to be open-minded with others, they’ll extend the same courtesy to you.
6. Develop Self-Confidence
Authenticity requires strength of character, especially when others are pressuring you to act in a way that you know is wrong. This is why you should work on building your self-confidence. A strong sense of self, and the assertiveness needed to stand your ground, will help you get through challenging situations.
7. Manage Your Emotions
When you live authentically, you consider others’ needs and you do your best to treat them with courtesy and respect. In stressful situations, this means knowing how to control your emotions.
This is an important part of living authentically, because it shows that you have inner strength and respect for those around you, and it’s a skill worth developing since it will serve you well in all aspects of your life and career.
Note: As we said earlier, being authentic may mean that you miss some short-term opportunities. After all, it’s always tempting to puff yourself up, sell your best points, and, maybe, exaggerate a bit to get those great-seeming opportunities.
In reality, there are times when this may pay off. However, other times you’ll fall flat on your face, and destroy your reputation in the process. Either way, you’re not setting yourself up for long-term happiness by doing this.
It’s usually better to understand your own values and your own, genuine strengths, and then to work hard to find opportunities where these values and strengths really matter for success. (Developing a career strategy is useful for this.)
That way you can be authentic, happy and successful, all at the same time.
Authenticity is living your life according to your own needs and values rather than those that society, friends, and family expect from you. Living authentically offers several benefits, including respect from others, the ability to realize your true potential, and happiness and well-being.
Developing authenticity is a lifelong journey. To get started, take the following steps:
- Identify your values.
- Identify who you want to be.
- Live with integrity.
- Communicate honestly.
- Don’t make assumptions.
- Develop self-confidence.
- Manage your emotions.
Enjoy living authentically!
|Authenticity by Carol Adrienne, Ph.D.|
The idea of being authentic has caught our attention much like the word empowered did a few years ago. It’s curious why authenticity seems so valuable to us that we talk about what it means, wonder if we have it, and search for ways to find it and express it. What makes us think we aren’t authentic?
The other day I was talking to a thirty-four-year-old mother of two small children who lives in Minnesota. I’ll call her Rae. She told me, “I’m not real thrilled with life right now. My kids are two-and-a-half and four-and-half, and I went back to work last January selling real estate. I’ve done sales, customer service, and public relations but I don’t like the idea of hopping around in my jobs. Real estate is okay, I guess, but I really love metaphysical stuff. Reading books on spirituality recharges me. My family all goes to church, but church doesn’t seem to fit for me anymore. I need to find my life purpose!”
She went on to describe her inner restlessness, her feeling she is “not doing something right” and her growing conflict with her parents and husband. My hunch is that Rae is in a process of shifting values within a milieu that is familiar but not very supportive of her search for fulfillment. Like many of us who are unhappy with where we are, Rae was putting the focus on finding her purpose—which for her meant finding the right career. However, finding the right career can be a mythical panacea that is not the answer to our deepest inner longings to feel recognized, happy, and fulfilled.
Last month in this column, I mentioned the book by Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson, The Cultural Creatives. In that book the authors describe three main streams of consciousness operating in the United States: the Traditionalists, the Modernists, and the Cultural Creatives. As Rae and I talked about the values and interests of these three groups, she realized that most of her friends and family held beliefs that sounded like the Traditionalists—e.g., a patriarchal view of family life, traditional roles for men and women, family, church and community are where you belong, and adhering to conservative customs that maintain familiar ways of life. She felt particularly at odds with the idea that all the guidance you need for your life can be found in the Bible. Her desire to work and have an independent income was not only viewed with criticism by her parents who thought she should devote herself completely to being a wife and mother, but also by her husband. Their frequent fights over her work hours is costing her much anxiety and guilt.
Original Nature is Shaped by Conditioning
As children we have no trouble being authentic. Remember when you woke up in the summer happy with anticipation for the day? Remember the joy you took in having your friends sleep over? Remember your parents’ mixed reaction when you blurted out some delightful, albeit disconcerting, blunt truth? Growing up, we naturally question authority or the status quo because curiosity and the need to understand how the world works are prime motivations in our developing psyche. At some critical point, however, it is inevitably driven home to us that in order to get along in the world, sometimes we need to withhold our opinions, listen to our elders, deny what we see and hear, lie low or even lie. We begin the process of putting a lot of stuff—beliefs, opinions, self-criticisms, pain, fear, disappointments, humiliations, anger, rage, feelings of distrust and abandonment in a closet—with the idea that maybe it will go away or we’ll sort it out later.
Making a Break
Each of us is born into a family or a situation that already has a code and a belief system that works to some degree. For those of us who are adventurous enough—or unhappy enough—to search for personal fulfillment, we may find we are attracted to interests, cultures, lifestyles, or beliefs that don’t jibe with past conditioning. Usually, without any conscious intention to upset the status quo, we find that we’re “not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz once said. One of the most poignant interviews I had was a few years ago with a teacher named Jim who lived in the Mid-west. His wife was also a teacher and one day they were looking over the salary schedule for teachers. He said, “My wife looked at it and was excited to know that every year she would receive a 5% pay raise and would retire at 65 with a pension. We had just bought a house and all the furniture we would ever need, and when I thought about how the next forty years were all mapped out for me, I got profoundly depressed.”
By his family’s standards, Jim and his wife had everything. He said that given his family’s outlook, he would have found it easier to commit suicide than to get a divorce. Eventually, he told his family he was going West to give himself a chance to pursue his dreams of being a comedian. As painful as the decision was, he later divorced, met the love of his life, and now is active in spiritual teachings and is a master of ceremonies in a comedy club. Jim’s need to live an authentic life was literally a life or death issue.
Inner Listening—Alert Presence
The voice of the authentic self seems to be the same as the intuitive voice, that quiet, but persistent voice that whispers new ideas to us in the middle of the night, on vacation, or after meditating. Intuition speaks in short, clear messages that are qualitatively different from the repetitive mind chatter that makes us feel anxious. Intuition tells us where the authentic choice is—for us.
When we are birthing a more authentic version of ourselves—especially when we are unconsciously growing away from the familiar unspoken contracts and agreements we have with people, we experience some or all of the following feelings, which Rae expressed in our conversation. I asked her to state what she does not want as the first step in identifying what she does want. She said, “I don’t want to be dependent on anyone. I don’t want to feel unsure of myself. I don’t want to be tired all the time. I don’t want to be negative, to always see the down side, or to expect the worst. I don’t want to be a fearful worry wart. I don’t want to be a people-pleaser. I don’t want to feel that I am not being authentic.”
In a recent article in Noetic Sciences Review (March-May 2003), Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, says, “More and more, you realize that you are not your thoughts, because they come and go. They’re all conditioned; they’re all just the contents of your mind. Instead of deriving a sense of self from those contents, you realize that you can simply observe the contents. A deeper sense of self arises then. That is the aware presence, and it feels very spacious and peaceful, no matter what happens in your mind.”
Below is a list of some of feelings that comprise a syndrome of inauthenticity—which occurs when our inner needs, values, and self-image don’t match our outer expression, behaviors, and accomplishments—and some major characteristics of an authentic person.
|Inauthentic SelfFeels anxious Is a people-pleaser Second guesses every decision Rationalizes Is rigid Wants to impress others Says or does things he regrets Doesn’t expect much Placates Hides or denies feelings Feels like a victim Is paralyzed or hyperactive Uses addictive behavior Feels confused and overwhelmed Feels helpless or hopeless Is depressed or angry Gets trapped in endless mind chatter||Authentic SelfFeels optimistic Is honest and open Commits but is flexible Thinks for himself Goes with the flow, open to change Wants to do her best Knows when to apologize Knows how to accept and receive Negotiates Listens to feelings Takes responsibility Acts when appropriate Makes healthy choices Knows when to stop and reevaluate Knows how to ask for help Feels happy a lot of the time Is tuned into a larger field of intelligence|
It’s easy to assume that once you learn the secret of authenticity, you are going to be confident, balanced, wise, and resourceful all the time! However, some situations carry more stress, which may cause us to regress into old patterns. Think of the times you have attended cocktail parties, business meetings, job interviews, high school reunions, and blind dates. These are the Authenticity Olympics for most of us!! Begin to notice with which friends you feel more yourself—more authentic. You may feel more comfortable in small gatherings–or oddly enough, meeting a stranger on a plane where you find yourself spilling out feelings you haven’t shared even with family members. It’s easier to be authentic when your identity is secondary to other actions, like chatting with the owner of an adorable and friendly dog. A good sign that you are feeling authentic is when you feel expanded and relaxed. Feeling hemmed in or contracted is a sign that you are shutting down and not being as present as you could be.
Becoming a self-confident, happy, and fulfilled person who uses her talents to create prosperity and well-being–as well as to give service to others–is a life-long task. How might you increase your sense of being truly authentic?
- MEDITATE. Practice clearing the mind regularly. Observe passing thoughts as if they were clouds.
- SPECIFY THE FEAR. When you feel fear about some new action or decision, write down exactly what you are afraid might happen. Get very clear about the shape of the fear and what you are actually dealing with.
- FIND THE ROOT. Ask yourself, Whose voice is talking to me? Who is making me afraid? Is it my voice? My parents? The voice of mass media?
- MANAGE AROUND THE FEAR. Write down specific things you could do to work around the fear so that you can take a small step in spite of it.
- DROP SELF-DOUBT. The best way to feel good about yourself is to complete something that you have been putting off, or to set one small goal and achieve it. Nothing begins to erase self-doubt more easily than a little string of successes.
- LOOK FOR A THIRD SOLUTION. Whenever you are agonizing over two choices, remember that this polarization serves a purpose—to keep you from taking any step. When lost in black and white thinking, look for a third option.
- APPRECIATE YOUR UNIQUENESS. Everyone has a special knack, talents, and skills. Everyone.
- STOP STRUGGLING. There is a time for perseverance and a time to let go.
- ENJOY THE MOMENT. Take delights in small pleasures and beauty. Be with people you love and enjoy.
- TAKE TIME. Slow down. Avoid the tendency to fill up the space.
- STAND UP FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE. Nothing drains energy more than suppressing action, passion, and commitment.
- SIMPLIFY. Troubles arise when we set ourselves up to do too many things or to manage too much stuff. Being authentic is being able to say yes when you mean it and no when you need to.
- SPEND MORE TIME IN NATURE. The beauty, quiet, and harmony of nature helps you observe your thoughts as separate from who you are. Natural surroundings help put options into perspective. Peaceful sounds of birds, flowing water, wind, and waves lull the mental chatter and clear the mind. To quote Eckhart Tolle, “When your sense of self is no longer tied to thought, is no longer conceptual, there is a depth of feeling of sensing, of compassion, of loving that was not there when you were trapped in mental concepts. You are that depth.”
You need not make huge changes in your life to experience being more alert and present. Acting on any one of the choices above can immediately change how you experience your life.
© Copyright 2003 Carol Adrienne, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.
Carol Adrienne, Ph.D., is an internationally-known workshop facilitator and author whose books have been translated into over fifteen languages. Her latest book is When Life Changes, or You Wish It Would. Oprah hailed, The Purpose of Your Life: Finding Your Place in the World Using Synchronicity, Intuition, and Uncommon Sense a must-read. She is also the author of The Numerology Kit. An electronic copy of Your Child’s Destiny—a numerological guide for parents is now available at www.CarolAdrienne.comm. Carol is available to for keynotes, workshops, and seminars and can be reached at Carol22@sonic.net or (510) 528-2226 weekdays 10 am to 6 pm PST.
Living Full–Living True: The Authentic Lifeby Suzanne Zoglio, Ph.D.
In the early stages of life we are often focused on pleasing others…parents, teachers, bosses, and spouses. In an effort to get our needs met, we learn to play by other people’s rules. But as we mature, we become more competent, independent, and able to meet our own needs. We are then less motivated to do what others want us to do. We tire of keeping up appearances, and care much less about what other people think. We no longer want to chase someone else’s dream; we want to live our own dreams. In short, we come to grips with the idea of being our own person. Now we just want to live a life that feels right. We want to be free of inner turmoil and outer chaos. Instead of approval, we are more likely to seek a sense of inner peace…the kind that accompanies authentic living.
I suspect that you can probably name several people who have taken considerable risks in order to lead more authentic lives. Perhaps you know someone who turned down a promotion to have more time with her family, forfeited a steady income to start up a new business, or left an unhappy marriage facing the firm disapproval of friends and family. Maybe you know someone who started a family after forty, got a high school diploma in midlife, or took early retirement in order to work full-time as a volunteer.
When you fashion a life where the decisions you make and the actions you take are considered, deliberate, and in harmony with what’s important to you, you are living an authentic life. It is not necessarily a life that others admire or think is right for you, but a life that you know in your heart is right for you. It may not be a life that has been your habit, but it is a life that makes you greet each day with enthusiasm and sleep peacefully at night.
The more honest you can be–with yourself and with others–about who you are and what you need to be fulfilled, the more likely you are to create a life that’s right for you. But excavating your truth may seem like a daunting task. With all the busyness of our everyday lives, self-reflection may seem self-indulgent. “I don’t have time to sit around contemplating my navel,” you might think. “I’ve got responsibilities to meet.”
But that’s the irony. If we move as fast as we can down a path that leads us away from our true desires, we end up backtracking anyway, or going around in circles searching for the place that feels like home. When we don’t take the time to tune in to what’s best for us next, we actually waste time with many false starts and journeys that might otherwise be avoided. An authentic life is built from the inside out…with attention to one’s inner wisdom. Perhaps you could simply begin each day with a question: “What is important to me?” Or spend 20 minutes in meditation each morning, letting your inner voice surface. You might try 10 minutes of journaling every day for week, and then see what wisdom surfaces. Maybe you could take one weekend a month and retreat to nature for an hour or so where you could reflect on what kind of person you have become and what kind of person you aspire to be. To live authentically you need not spend two weeks on a mountaintop in Tibet (although that might be terrific too). You simply have to make time on a regular basis for self-reflection. Tune in to who you are, what you want, and what is best for you next. The rest will unfold.
Once you are clear about what resonates for you and you align your outer behavior with that inner truth, your life will flow in a direction that is exquisitely meaningful. You will not expend energy on denial, survival, or suppression. Instead, you will gain energy from insight, evolution, and expression…from being authentic. When your inner and outer worlds are congruent, the pieces all seem to fit…everything clicks. If you know at your core that you are living a life that is aligned with your purpose, filled with what you love, and supporting your growth, you are living an authentic life. Your outer behavior is fueled by your inner truth, and you lead a life of dignity and self-respect. There is no pretense to keep up. What you do reflects what you believe, how you feel, and what you know.
When you live authentically, you know what you stand for and make conscious choices to honor those values. Your highest priorities consistently get the lion’s share of your time, and your actions are consistent with your beliefs. If you say fitness, family, meditation, and service are important to you, you make time for them in your life. When you are complimented, you feel personally validated because it is the “real” you that is being appreciated, not a “persona” that you play very well. The energy that fuels an extraordinary life is harnessed from within your heart. On the other hand, if you live in a way that just doesn’t feel right, you might be concealing or ignoring parts of yourself that long to be acknowledged.
Perhaps you feel tired, empty, or depressed because you are draining energy as you push your inner desires to the rear of your awareness. Denying inner truth is like trying to keep the lid on a pressure cooker that has built up too much steam. Try as you will, you can’t contain it. If you know in your heart that you’re not using your most precious gifts or pursuing your dreams, you will not feel passion for the path that you are on. A certain numbness may even take hold, where you go through the motions and even perform pretty well, but at the end of the day you do not feel full. Rather it feels as though something is missing…and it is…a special part of you. To live authentically is to make a difference with the gifts we’ve been given and to follow the dreams that ignite our passion.
Being authentic also requires the courage to face personal truth. That truth might be how you really feel about yourself, what fears are blocking your success, which habits are perpetuating the life you have, or what dreams you have suppressed. Until you choose your actions based on emotional awareness, you will not experience harmony. You may dance as fast as you can, distracting yourself from the inner work that needs to be done, but frenzied activity will not fill that void you perceive. To increase inner peace we must find the courage to examine and embrace all aspects of ourselves…the light, the dark, the new, the old.
To see if enhancing authenticity in your life might add to your joy, see if the following statements ring true for you.
- You are skilled and successful in your career, but not doing what you love
- You don’t know what you want, but you DO know it’s not the life you have
- You want close relationships, but escape to work, food, or alcohol, instead of developing your own esteem and emotional aptitude.
- You know what changes would make your life more meaningful, but still find many excuses for not making the changes just now.
If you related to any of the previous statements, give some thought to what would bring your inner and outer worlds into finer alignment. Taking more time to tune in to your inner voice? Examining your gifts and how you might use them to make a difference?
Facing your fears about taking a leap toward what you really want? Whatever it is, consider the time and effort as a worthwhile investment. The return on your investment is to live as you wish and have no regrets in the end.
© Copyright Suzanne Zoglio, Ph.D. Adapted from “Create A Life That Tickles Your Soul: Finding Peace, Passion and Purpose” by Suzanne Zoglio, Ph.D. Website: www.zoglio.com.
Suzanne Zoglio, Ph.D., is an author, consultant, and motivational speaker who helps clients to work and live as they wish. Through her writing, coaching, and seminars, she helps individuals and work teams reach their full potential. With a personal mission to nurture growth, she supports practices that lead to energy, empowerment, and the realization of meaningful goals.
Suzanne has worked in the field of human development all of her adult life…as a teacher, counselor, executive coach, team consultant, self-development writer, and motivational speaker. She holds a doctorate in organizational psychology and a master’s degree in counseling. Helping people manage change for over 20 years, she’s coached executives, facilitated work team development, and presented motivational seminars to hundreds of groups across the USA and Europe.
Suzanne’s books include Teams At Work: 7 Keys To Success (Tower Hill Press, 1997), The Participative Leader (McGraw Hill, 1995), and Create A Life That Tickles Your Soul (Tower Hill Press, 1999) available in paperback as well as hardcover. Recharge In Minutes is scheduled for release in June, 2003). All are available online and from major retailers.
Living an Authentic Lifeby Kay Nuyens
Living authentically is a journey of remembrance, acknowledging that we are powerful spiritual beings, co-creators with the Universe. To remember this truth, we need to move away from our mind’s incessant chatter, and move directly into our hearts. This is the quiet space of our true essence, our knowing. Aligning our heart with the heart of God allows us to be in touch with our spirit. Each day we can request to see ourselves as God sees us, in all of our perfection, without judgment or expectations. We are no ordinary beings. We are powerful spirits destined to remember our greatness, our Divine connection. It is time to remove the blocks. It is time to remember.
When we are living our truth, we act on the guidance that we receive, even if our ego begins to question that guidance. Recently I attended a workshop in another state. I arrived early and looked forward to checking into a hotel to relax before the workshop. Suddenly I just knew that I was not to get a hotel room; I would be invited to stay with another participant in the workshop. I experienced some resistance to the idea, since the workshop would end late in the evening and I didn’t want to be searching for a hotel at that hour. I let go of my ‘monkey-mind’ and allowed myself to move into trust. A kind family invited me to stay with them. To condense the story, staying with this family brought up a feeling of shame in me, a feeling I had not consciously been in touch with prior to this visit. As I meditated on the shame that came up for me, I discovered it went back to my two-year-old self. It was a wonderful, yet painful opportunity to learn a significant lesson. I was in awe of the power of this co-created lesson and how everything and everyone had to fall into place for this lesson to occur. Our wise self chooses the lessons we need to learn to remember the truth of who we are; lessons are wake-up calls for us. Trusting our guidance is essential. We are always under direct inspiration. What we need to know will be revealed to us in the perfect timing.
Living authentically means that we continue our path regardless of the opinions and beliefs of others. Some of my friends drifted away as I pursued a journey that was not considered mainstream. My husband and I have been happily married for more that thirty years. But Tom is an engineer, relying much on the scientific proof of the Universe, and his perception of things is much different than mine. In the past I attended many spiritual growth workshops and witnessed couples sharing the same beliefs. I would visibly cry, feeling so alone, and wanting Tom to join me in my metaphysical journey. Then I realized that loving him meant accepting him just as he was, without judgment. He allowed me to have my beliefs, and even supported me in my personal, spiritual growth. He loved me unconditionally, and I realized that I needed to offer him that same kind of love instead of trying to change him. I know that Tom and I were meant to be together. Now I believe that we set it up this way as a test for me to take responsibility for myself. We were young when we married, and he was the extrovert. I looked to him for strength. We are both authentic beings, expressing Spirit in our own unique ways. Relationships are our earthly assignments for mutual growth. Tom and I bring out the best in each other! The Course of Miracles states that the ego seeks intimacy through control and guilt. Holy Spirit seeks intimacy through acceptance and release. Today I can allow him to be who he needs to be without judgment or expectations. I can pursue my truth passionately, with or without approval of others.
Replacing fear with love allows us to replace the darkness with Light. I know that I am into my ego when fear comes up for me. It is my wounded child. Miracles happen for us when the ego steps aside and allows love to be present. Tom recently acquired a new job about seventy minutes away from our home. We are considering a move. The adult part of me was so excited, as I was ready for a change. I wanted a new highway to travel! Yet, through introspection, I found that my little child felt threatened and afraid. It was the third grade child, the shy one, who once had a challenging move and transition. This child part just needed love and assurance that this move would not create chaos in her life. With love, compassion and understanding, the fear melts away.
Fear is said to be just false evidence appearing real. We can choose to see the world as a safe space, focusing on what we want, or we can choose to live in a world that is dark and dangerous for us. It is our own perception that creates our world. How powerful we are to be able to create our own reality! With every thought we think, we create and recreate our world. I choose to see the world as one of beauty, harmony and abundance of all good things. It is our perception of ourselves that determines who we are in the world, so it is important to clear any blocks that prevent us from being the Light. We must consistently choose love over fear in transforming our inner world. Otherwise we live in an illusion and become victims of the world.
Forgiveness is essential in an authentic life. I have never had much difficulty forgiving others because I realize that everyone is my teacher. Sometimes these teachers are disguised as a ‘challenge,’ but I love ‘getting it,’ and actually learn to appreciate and honor the role these souls have agreed to play in my script. My challenge has been forgiving myself. I deserve better from myself, and have expressed a willingness to enjoy this new journey of self-forgiveness. I am learning to honor myself as I learn to let go of a judging process that no longer fits for me. I am learning to lighten up, being gentle with myself, as I am with others. It takes diligence and compassion to change old behavior patterns! We can all choose in the moment to STOP and choose differently. Know that we are not alone. Spirit helps create a shift in us if we ask for help.
When we fail to forgive, our health is affected. Our bodies become shut down. A Course in Miracles teaches us that anything that is not love is fear. Love makes our immune system stronger, healing our bodies. There is a wonderful book called Feelings Buried Alive Never Die by Karol Truman. I use it with all my clients suffering a physical ailment. Karol teaches us how our emotions affect our bodies, by naming the probable causes of our illness. Rarely have I found a client who did not agree fully with the probable emotional cause of an illness. We are healthy when we are harmonious and happy.
Because our beliefs write our scripts, living authentically means releasing outdated, self-limiting patterns, moving into our greatness. It is possible to let go of sabotaging thoughts because we created them in the first place, or we assumed them from someone else. I have spent years releasing beliefs that no longer serve me, and yet sometimes that need for perfectionism still lingers as a noose around my neck. Yet, my own expectations for myself put a lot of pressure on me, and I don’t always ‘fly lightly.’ There is a feeling of inner peace when we can relinquish judgment of self and others.
Living authentically is being committed to the truth of who we are, pure consciousness. It is setting the intention to walk with God more fully and gratefully, experiencing love. This work is a lifetime process, but in each moment, we have a choice. What choices will you make to live authentically today?
I offer some affirmations from my book, Invitation to Greatness, which have assisted me in living a more authentic life. I invite you to choose the affirmations that are most meaningful to you, and make them a part of your daily ritual.
- I choose life-affirming patterns for myself.
- I am a powerful being, reawakening to that power.
- I have the courage to speak my truth.
- I give myself permission to be who I am. I approve of me.
- I trust my journey of unfolding. I am in the flow of life.
- I am responsible for my own thoughts, feelings and behavior.
- Nothing outside of me can cause me to lose my peace of mind.
- I know I am not alone. The Universe supports me.
- I ask for guidance in each moment.
- In every moment I can make the choice for love.
©Copyright 2003 Kay Nuyens. All Rights Reserved.
Kay Nuyens spent twenty-five years teaching and counseling in the public schools before buying early retirement in 1998. She has manifested a new, more joyful and fulfilling life for herself. She is now a certified clinical hypnotherapist, author, speaker, teacher and a certified JOY Practitioner, assisting struggling students to feel successful. Her goal is to empower people to find their inner connection, healing issues through awareness, compassion and the power of love. Kay offers private sessions, personal growth classes and workshops.
Her new book, “Invitation to Greatness” is a workbook for personal growth. It contains a treasure trove of exercises for inner reflection, self-expression, clearing blocks and creating new patterns. It is a personal journey to discover your inner healer, your own loving essence. Learn specific healing techniques to gain emotional freedom and peace of mind. Discover how YOU can create a successful life script!
Recovering Our Authentic Selvesby Meredith Young-Sowers
“You already are authentic; the challenge is to feel that you are.” The room was quiet. Fifty men and women sat in front of me, waiting for the much-anticipated beginning of the year-long training in Intuitive Perception and Energy Diagnosis at the Stillpoint School of Advanced Energy Healing which I founded and direct.
As I looked around the room, I thought of conversations I’d had with many of the students. Among them were men and women who were healers, accountants, physicians, nurses, therapists, social workers, carpenters, artists, interior decorators, investment bankers, and moms and dads. What we shared was a yearning to heal our lives. My students came to School to learn how to become intuitive healers but also wanting to understand themselves and their lives better. We all wanted to renew ourselves and make peace with our failings, fears, and negative attitudes, to find the sacred within us and to find a spiritual community with whom to share experiences on the journey. We needed to understand the nature of our relationship with the Creator, both as the energy of the Universe and as a personal friend and mentor to whom we could turn for guidance, comfort, and unconditional love. When they started the year, like most of us, the students felt inauthentic, burdened by fears and anxieties. By year’s end, they saw the truth—that they were genuine splinters of God’s love, and their fears dissolved.
All of our success in the world and our progress on a spiritual path comes from learning to maximize the insights we receive from our authentic selves. Sensing a divine guiding hand is the way we look past our old emotional blocks, even though they come from real problems that we’ve actually experienced. We learn that our lives aren’t made up of what we know through our intellect but of the love and compassion we experience in our hearts.
The Voice of The One
To find the spiritual directions we’re seeking—the ways to love and have love returned—requires us to visit the voices of our spirits to show us how to live without an agenda. At first we’re frightened and disbelieving. We think it’s impossible for us to love without a deal that binds us at the level of our weaknesses rather than our strengths. But the voice of the sacred doesn’t dangle relationships in front of us, whispering, “If we just do or become something, then…” Instead, this inner voice tells us we are more than enough; we are Divine. We can, of course, have relationships that are nourishing and fulfilling as soon as we learn to be ourselves without apology. This voice speaks with the assurances we need. This is the voice of our authentic selves, with a capital S.
By comparison, the voice of our personalities is the one that, until now, we’ve always believed. This very familiar voice separates us from others by telling us that we’re not enough: we must do better, try harder. This is the voice that is relentless in pushing us to secure the material needs of our lives, even at the risk of our health and sanity. We push and struggle for our rightful share, and we are convinced that our responsibilities are limited to our little corner of the world and our individual families. This is the voice of our (small s) selves—our personalities.
The way I found The One true and essential voice inside me unfolded one sunny summer morning. I was on vacation in Maine with Errol, my husband. My morning routine was to sit quietly for a time watching the water, read a few pages of an inspiring book, and then walk for a while. I often would found surprising insights while meandering alone along the quiet country roads.
This particular day I had an amazing realization. I’d been working on trying to love and care for myself, not out of fear or resentment of others but out of compassion and acceptance for myself. But I wasn’t sure how I could find the inner voice of my authentic self. I reflected on a statement I’d read earlier that morning written by the Indian spiritual master Sathya Sai Baba. The piece suggested that I should try to understand my true nature, my authentic self, in much the same way I think about my children, my home, my work, my friends, and my physical body. When I thought, “This is my body,” I was to consider who it was that was announcing it possesses a body. It isn’t my body itself, but something in me that guides and directs my body; it’s not my mind, because that, too, is part of my physical composition. It is my spirit. And my spirit is none other than The One—the Creator.
I read a concluding thought that made a lasting impression as I tried to grapple with realizing that the “me” that was making decisions about what to think and do was none other than my authentic self. I realized that the path to greater understanding, love, and compassion was to find the “I am” that creates life rather than the “I” of my physical body and mind. I was looking for the part of me that is the originator of ideas, the genuine Creator within. My inner voice was the place where The One abided. This voice was my authentic self, and my Compassionate Healer was another aspect of this voice.
Working with people over the last twenty years has taught me a great deal about myself and other people, including how we can grow to accept ourselves and our life circumstances. Acceptance gives us power and courage to stay steady and strong instead of shifting the blame for what we don’t like to others and losing the will to make our own choices. Often we don’t understand why things happen in our lives, but we don’t need to understand why if we consider what; what will I do now? Or: how can I respond to this challenging scenario?
Life is a difficult journey. There is no way to change how our lives are put together. We know that we are born, we live, and we die. We know that we can’t control the elements and that some of us are unhappy more than we are content. If we can’t change the framework of our lives, how can we live out our years, getting the most from them? My answer is: by seeing our experiences as gateways to greater understanding and compassion.
When we connect with our authentic selves we learn about our courage and grace as much as our suffering and betrayals. When we only remember the misery and the pain, we remain locked in yesterday. But the reason we feel upset by dwelling on old suffering is not what we think. By refusing to find the meaning of our negative experiences, we think we are protecting ourselves from discovering how we have fallen short in the past. But the reality is that by finding the courage to look squarely at our old pains and sorrows, we see the ways we truly are authentic, thus liberating ourselves from past suffering. As we learn to detach from the criticisms of others and become our own loving parents and mentors, we are able to see that “The Source” sees our value and helps us to make our own unique contributions to life, making the most of opportunities we might otherwise have missed.
The End Becomes Our New Beginning
Nothing is set in stone. We know that many possibilities lie before us. No illness is absolutely terminal, no relationship is irrevocably doomed, no loss is forever, and no suffering needs to shroud our futures. We are The Creator’s charges—His/Her hands and feet here on Earth to experience and enjoy the sacred seeds of the love He/She has planted in our hearts.
For me, writing my new book, Wisdom Bowls, was a rebirth of greater confidence and commitment to the work of spreading love in the world. I hope you will read it and it inspires a rebirth for you as well, as you face new possibilities in your life with renewed energy and determination. We have everything we need in order to live full, successful lives, assured that we are kin with all the life on earth. Our circle of caring is large, embracing all people and all nations. Every creature and habitat is part of our web of life, and every effort we make to strengthen it, no matter how small, changes our future for the better.
The Earth and her children depend on each of us to be wise, to have vision, to speak in joy, to extend love and compassion, to own our power, to accept our true natures, and to allow others to share our bounty. If our capable hands and steady hearts shift ever so slightly in the direction of loving, we move the planet in an entirely new direction from where it has been in the past. If we each lean just a little toward love and understanding, what might our lives look like? What might our children grow up to believe? What suffering that we’ve borne through the years would we heal? Our futures rest in our ability to love each other enough to overcome our differences and reach out to one another in peace and understanding. Peace in our hearts will create peace on the planet. Fear is not in charge of our destiny; we, as our authentic selves, are the creators of the future we will pass along to those who walk in our footsteps.
The exploration of our authentic nature leads to an amazing realization. Rather than being the dim and unenlightened persons we may think we are, we find that deep inside we are as brilliant as the sun, no matter what tragedy has befallen us. We can experience joy, love and power when we understand what has blocked those aspects of Love in our lives. We can open our hearts to loving in ways we never have before. There is no perfect time to find the answers to deep questions. The right time is whenever and wherever we begin our journeys toward an authentic reconnection with our true Selves.
© Copyright 2003 Meredith Young-Sowers. All Rights Reserved. The above is excerpted and adapted from Wisdom Bowls; Overcoming Fear and Coming Home to Your Authentic Self, by Meredith Young-Sowers (Stillpoint, 2002). For more about Wisdom Bowls, please visit www.wisdombowls.com. To learn more about Meredith’s work and The Stillpoint School of Advanced Energy Healing, please click on www.stillpoint.org.
Meredith Young-Sowers, an internationally acclaimed spiritual teacher, intuitive healer, counselor and author, she has published six books, two of which have become best-selling classics. Meredith lectures, leads workshops and offers teleclasses all over the world, bringing her special gracious blend of warmth, wisdom, intimacy, insight and encouragement to her students. In her teachings and writings, she draws on the spiritual lessons found in the ordinary experiences of her daily life and shares her ability to see the miraculous in the mundane. Students and participants in her classes, workshops and retreats say she empowers them to overcome the difficult challenges in their lives.
Founder and director of the Stillpoint Institute and School of Advanced Energy Healing, and co-founder of Stillpoint Publishing with Caroline Myss, Meredith is considered a pioneer in the development of energy diagnosis methods. Her work, a new path to healing that brings greater love, joy, and comfort to people’s lives, is considered a significant breakthrough in the field of energy medicine.
Over the past twenty years Meredith has counseled and done deep intuitive work based on her knowledge of physical and emotional healing and her inspired understanding of spiritual healing. The brilliant methods and techniques she has developed to teach spiritual healing have placed her at the forefront of the mind-body-spirit revolution. An alumna and recipient of a distinguished graduate award from Centenary College for Women, Meredith holds both a Masters and a Doctor of Divinity degree from the Universal Brotherhood University.
Meredith Young-Sowers is the author of the following published books and products: Wisdom Bowls; Overcoming Fear and Coming Home to Your Authentic Self, Stillpoint, 2002; The Angelic Messenger Cards, Stillpoint, 1993; Agartha: A Journey to the Stars (10th Anniversary Edition and First Edition), Stillpoint, 1995; Teachings from the Angelic Messenger Cards, Stillpoint, 1995; Spiritual Crisis: What’s Really Behind Loss, Disease and Life’s Major Hurts, Stillpoint, 1992; Language of the Soul, Stillpoint, 1988; Agartha: The Essential Guide to Personal Transformation in the New Era, Ballentine Mass Market, 1988.