“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
– Carl Jung
In Part One, I talked about the importance of living authentically and my own struggle to develop a life that was full of joy and meaning. Here, in Part Two, I’m going to share the four practices that I use every day to keep myself on the most genuine of paths.
4 Ways to Begin Living Authentically
1. Connect with your inner voice.
Uncovering your most authentic life will come from deep within yourself. You need to learn to discern that inner voice that often whispers in your ear, It’s a voice that is so very easily drowned out by the noise of the unimportant and the trivial. Too often, this noise is self-created, so that we can ignore what our inner wisdom is trying to tell us. Through a daily practice of silence, you can create a still space that allows the message that this voice carries to resonate throughout your life.
The key is connecting with your inner voice often throughout the day. Get out of bed 15 minutes early and sit in silence. If this feels uncomfortable for you, start with just 3 – 5 minutes. Simply ask your true self to make itself known. Quietly offer that you are willing to be open and grateful for any wisdom and guidance that comes through.
Looking for inspiration on other ways to connect? Spend an extra five minutes in the shower, doing the same thing. Make sure that you’re creating as little background noise as possible. If you are out walking, remove your headphones. When you are in the car – leave the radio off. Rather than surfing social media, sit in the sun with your cup of tea. If your life is over the top crazy, you can even turn your “potty time” into a sacred time of silent connection. Simply, breathe deeply and open your heart. This ever-present guidance system is the quickest most truthful barometer for moving into your most authentic life. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t hear anything. I most often get my messages through a gut feeling which is the precursor to an inner knowing. And it’s always on the money!
2. Get to know the difference between your soul and your ego.
At the start of my awakening I was terrified to stop and sit in silence. I was sure the onslaught of negative recriminations would be unendingly painful. But I have come to know this truth: connecting with your soul is the opposite of pain. It is an experience of spaciousness, of unconditional love and complete support. Your soul is the seat of everything positive. It is the source of all potential and light.
If accusations, blame, or heavy judgment start coming at you from within, that is your ego trying to keep you in stasis. The ego hates change because of the threat that change represents. Change will serve to undermine the defenses that are the ego’s foundation. Change will alter the behaviors that serve to reinforce the ego’s dominance. Change can break decades of ingrained habits whose only purpose is to keep you shackled to the ego’s needs. So, let the ego rage and scream. Once you know that it lacks any real power, you can let its impotent demands and threats flow unimpeded until, gradually, it runs out of steam. Once it does, ask for your soul to make itself known once again in the resulting silence.
3. Reconnect with your authentic self.
In order to begin living authentically, we need to get rid of every misconception and lie that we tell about ourselves. The best way to do this is by taking a good long look in the mirror. Now, I understand that looking in the mirror objectively can be a difficult thing. The stories we tell about ourselves are very powerful, regardless of their truth. False stories define us just as much as the things that we know are true. The point here is to separate the wheat from the chaff and jettison the deceptions and fabrications that are tying you to a self that isn’t true to who you really are.
To do this, you have to take a good, long look at yourself. Set a timer for two minutes. Look at your reflection the entire time. Who is this person? What has made you who you are today? What experiences have created the unique representation of the most high’s divine work? Do your eyes light up or are they dim? What are you feeling? Are you weighed down by burdens? Are you exhausted by the choices you’ve made? Simply ask the questions, don’t try to look for answers.
Keep an eye on your ego, as well. This is another exercise that results in change, so be prepared for your ego to have strong objections. It will try every negative tactic in the book to get you to believe that what is false is true. Don’t fall for this. Sit quietly and let your ego exhaust itself. Then, quietly continue.
Do this every day for 30 days. Over time, the answers to your questions will reveal themselves. Be gentle with yourself as this happens. Sometimes, the truth isn’t easy. However, the beauty of the truth is that once you accept it, lies no longer have the same hold over you. Remember, you are on a journey of discovering who it is that you really are. The reward, to paraphrase T.S. Elliot, is arriving home and knowing yourself for the very first time.
4. Find some crazy joy.
Beginning today, do one new thing that brings you crazy joy. I have to emphasize that JOY IS NOT HAPPINESS.
Happiness is, by its very nature, fleeting. Joy, on the other hand, is foundational. It comes from the soul and begins to weave a base of strength within your being. It can be said that joy is less an emotion and more an attitude or an outlook.
That’s not to say that happiness is not a component of joy. It certainly is. Happiness builds joy. It reinforces joy. However, by itself, it’s not joy. It can be a hard concept to grasp. After all, joy and happiness are synonyms, right?
The ancient Greeks had a concept related to joy called eudaimonia which meant something akin to our word “flourishing”. Eudaimonia was a state of being, not an emotion. The concept of joy can be understood by looking at it in exactly the same way. When you are flourishing spiritually, emotionally, and physically, you can be said to be joyful. Your outlook, the way you live, and the way you react to life and what it throws your way all define and describe your state of joy. Joy is how you live AND how you feel.
So, to begin to get more joy in your life, start by prioritizing yourself. Move out of your comfort zone and do something totally unexpected. Make a list of those things you’ve always wanted to do but always found a reason to put someone else’s needs ahead of your own. Watch a funny movie in the middle of the day. Browse a second hand store for a treasure that represents your becoming. Eat shrimp cocktail and drink a glass of champagne for lunch. Take a dance class and shake your authentic potential into being. Volunteer for a few hours somewhere that feeds your inner being. Swim naked in the moonlight. Call an old friend and talk for as long as you like.
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Let this list become your 31 flavors of possibility. And this week select just one. Revel in the experience as it unfolds. Familiarize your body with this feeling of glorious independence. Of unbridled self-love. Of complete peace. Be in this moment. See it. Understand it. This foundation is what your life will feel like when you begin living authentically. No masks. No pretense. Just simple joy that everything is surrounded and suffused with a meaning that you understand.
As always, as you practice these steps, remember, you are on a journey. Take your time. Be patient. Something glorious is in the process of becoming.
What strategies have you used to help you create your most authentic life. And if you are just beginning the journey, which of my four strategies will you begin to practice and why? I can’t wait to hear from you.