It may be a cliché to ‘find yourself’, but it’s also – arguably – one of the most important things you will ever do. Here is a quick guide to living your authentic self, with links to further reading, by London-based personal coach and NLP Master Practitioner, Jo Ritchie.
1. Know the ‘real’ you, the ‘awareness’ behind the thoughts
Realise you are not the ‘monkey brain’ computer that churns out millions of thoughts a day. As Eckhart Tolle says,
“The beginning of freedom is the realisation you are not ‘the thinker’. The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated”.
2. Spend some time alone every day
You cannot hear your own inner voice when it is drowned out by the demands of others. Oscar Wilde said, “I think it is very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person”. (See my blog post on spending time alone.)
3. Take off the mask and express the real you
As Henry David Thoreau said, “Be yourself – not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be”. Hiding behind a persona built on what you think you ‘should’ be is never going to bring you peace or meaningful relationships. (See my blog post on the need to remove our ‘masks’ and show our vulnerability.)
4. Take responsibility for your own life
“If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we will always be the victim” – Richard Bach. You take back your power when you accept that you are the one making things happen in your life.
5. Be grateful for what you have rather than focus on what you don’t
If you focus on what you feel you are lacking, you will always be dissatisfied. If you look for things to be grateful about, you will find many. As Neale Donald Walsch puts it, “The struggle ends when gratitude begins”.
6. Don’t give a s**t about what other people think of you
Why waste time worrying about what other people MIGHT think and experience stress based on a hypothesis that probably isn’t even true?! Others are too busy worrying about their own stuff! Anyway, as Maya Angelou puts it, “Your opinion is not the sum of me”.
7. Don’t compare yourself with others
There will always be someone smarter, stronger, prettier or funnier than you. These surface things are not really important. As Lao Tzu said, “When you realise there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you”.
8. Face your fears and constantly push your comfort zone
George Adair said, “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear”. FEAR can be seen as an acronym for ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’ and doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind. (See my blog post on fear and on challenge leading to growth.)
9. Accept and embrace life as it is at this moment
“The greatest source of wisdom is what is happening to us right now, just where we are”, believes Baron Baptiste. Mindfulness is essential. How can you really be there for yourself or for the people in your life if you are living in the past or planning the future? (See my blog post on being present.)
10. Set healthy boundaries – learn to say ‘no’
As part of being true to yourself, set healthy boundaries with others and practice saying ‘no’ when it helps you look after yourself. “You teach other people how to treat you by your words and actions”.
11. Do what you love – not what you think you ‘should’ do
Steve Jobs said, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”. Are you happy with how you are spending your days or do you need to consider making a change? (See my blog post on leaving the corporate world to follow my dreams.)
12. Be open and honest in your communications
The more you speak your truth and be real with people, the deeper you will connect in your relationships. In the words of Dr Seuss, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”.