Five Tiny Steps Toward Showing up As Your Authentic Self

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The best equation for uncovering inner confidence is deep [female] relationships, body movement, and constant, supportive conversations with yourself. Also, laughter. Laugh often. You don't come into yourself. You come out of yourself. Your cells are malleable and looking for inspiration. You just have to call it out of you.

—“To the women that I love—”

Chelsey Reardon

In my messy non-linear development, I could not have found the above to be more true. FOR TOO LONG, I kept a wall between how I felt and how I presented to the world. My self-worth was all wrapped up in the way other people responded to me, and that shit was not only EXHAUSTING but also kept my self-worth from flourishing. No mas.

Keep in mind, you are the best expert on yourself. What I’m about to share are some guiding principles that helped me — if any of them resonate with you, pick them up and try them on. If not, leave them be.

  1. be picky about who you choose to be around.

Showing up as your real self can be hard enough on its own without having to deal with people who treat you poorly. While it’s true we can’t completely avoid interacting with people who are hateful, that’s all the more reason to be selective about who we share our free time with. Protect yourself by choosing people who regularly respect your time, thoughts, and feelings even when you disagree.

2. be honest with yourself.

This requires a regular practice of putting down your phone/device/whatever you’re distracting yourself with and tuning into your body, thoughts, and feelings. Unplug. Listen to your breathing. Go for a walk. Get out a pen and write.

Every day when I wake up, I commit to filling three pages in my journal with whatever junk is floating around in my head. When I first started this practice a year and a half ago, I would censor myself on the page. Certain topics were off limits, but over time, as I got more comfortable with the practice, my journal became a safe place for literally any thought. One of the *many* cool + brain changing things about journaling is that you can only hear yourself complain for so long before you’re moved to action which brings me to....

3. align your actions with your values/beliefs.

Every once in a while, a chasm will creep between what I believe I should be investing my time in and what I am actually investing my time in. One way to spot these chasms is by tuning in to the things you pay lip service to. For instance, this time two years again, even though I valued reading, creating, hiking, and friendships, what I was actually investing in was working overtime, obsessing over petty details, and responding to creative blocks with avoidance behaviors like online scrolling and TV. It was helpful to take a step back and make a list of the things that added real value to my life, take a long hard look at my schedule, and begin making choices.

Sometimes the things we value feel inaccessible because of a limiting belief. For instance, a creative block is often symptomatic of a negative feeling or belief about ones’ creativity. In my experience with blocks, they came, as a result of sitting to create and hearing only voices. “Why bother?” “You’re just going to mess it up.” Lets call these voices “blurts.” The blurts are not you. You are just the listener, and guess what? Principle one applies here, and you don’t have to listen!

But don’t merely ignore them. Dismantle them. Write it down, and spin it on its head. “Why bother?” becomes “My creativity guides me to forgiveness and self-forgiveness.” “You’re just going to mess up” becomes, “My job is to make the work, not judge the work.” These deconstructed blurts can become mantras to repeat and over time, the blurts began to lose their voice and new beliefs take root.

4. be honest with others.

You are in charge of your own happiness. If you have someone in your life that is doing something that bothers you, it’s your job to speak up.

Starting with “I feel _____ when _____” is helpful because it gives you ownership of your feelings, and it isn’t something that anyone can argue with. It’s just information. Sometimes getting out how you feel is enough. Other times, it’s helpful to follow up with a boundary. An example from my household, “I feel annoyed when you take pictures of me without my permission. I want you to ask next time.” :)

Humans were never meant to read minds.

5. forget the haters & meditate

One of my favorite things to remember is that at any given time, about half of people will be into what I’m doing and half of people will not. If I try and please everyone, I will just end up displeasing myself, so IMO, it’s just better to be who I am and let others be who they are too. We can’t “click” with everyone, and there’s no sense in dwelling on those who aren’t about you. Struggle with dwelling? I got you —

Anytime you find yourself getting lost in a trance, try thought-labeling. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, but for me, most thoughts fit into one of these four categories — “remembering,” “judging,” “planning,” and “imagining.” As I notice my mind running away and dragging me along behind, I catch and label the thought, bring my attention back to the present moment, and repeat.

The mind is a thinking machine — it’s just what it does. We can’t fight it, but we can keep it in check —like a dog tied to a tree. It may wander some, but if the leash is doing its job, it won’t go far.

Any of these resonate? Any thing that helps you that I might benefit from? I would love to hear!