No one can tell you the ills of living an inauthentic life more than I can (heehee – well, you’ve got to be an expert at something, right). I took wrong turns down every path you can imagine because I didn’t listen to my inner voice. I didn’t even know I had an inner voice! I didn’t know my heart and my emotions were my guide to a path that would satisfy, at least not for decades.
As a teenager, I wanted to be an actor. But, I was talked out of it. I listened to others’ fears about it. So, what did I do? I picked a profession for the money — computer programming. Anyone who knows me, then or now, would say “Good grief, that’s not you. What were you thinking?” I was thinking about what might impress others, not me. That led to a string of jobs that left me numb and angry inside — jobs that I didn’t care about — jobs that felt like a waste of my life. This is not the only area of my life in which I made poor decisions for image reasons. I chose relationships with handsome men that weren’t a personality match, attended events I had no interest in, watched garbage movies with no redeeming value because friends asked me to go. I didn’t protect my time, say no, but instead went along to get along.
Not valuing your time, your heart, your life can leave you feeling dead, angry and numb inside. And sadly, I’ve just skimmed the surface of decisions that were not inline with my authentic self, authentic talents, passions and values.
Here are six good reasons to always muster the courage to listen to your heart and go your authentic path:
1.) It takes a lot of energy to be something you are not – conceal who you are – hold back your authentic voice.
2.) Not being your authentic self is stressful and bad for your health. When you are living a life that you know is not yours, work feels like drudgery, relationships wear on you. The conflict within you manifests as stress and illness.
3.) Being inauthentic is bad for your relationships (career, romantic and otherwise). As someone who was always self conscious, I can speak loudly to this one. When you hold back and hold a shroud over your authentic self, you are seen as cowardly. People sense it. They sense your fear. There is a loss of respect and many times you are seen as a non-entity. People want to hear your voice and know your authentic personality. They want to engage on a real level. Put it out there. At first you will feel vulnerable (and will even down the road a piece), but you will reap the dividends as you let it all go. Being your authentic self grows healthy relationships.
4.) You can avoid a lot depression and anger issues by being real with yourself and the world.
5.) You are more focused and productive when you know your authentic path. Thoughts about what others think and remorse over not doing what you really want to be doing all take up a lot of head and mind space. When you have spent time in meditation on the questions ‘Who am I,’ ‘What is my purpose’ and ‘Why am I here,’ you develop a vision of what you are all about. This vision dictates your thoughts and actions. With all the inauthentic and nebulous activity cleared away, you can focus more clearly and productively on your dreams – your life vision.
6.) You engage in a life you love – you only enter into healthy relationships, careers and hobbies that nourish you.
Now that I have finally come around to and have lived aligned with authentic self for awhile (and each moment is a choice – you are never completely ‘there’), I can truly say there’s nothing like it. It’s exhilarating, it’s the unknown, but it is your own path, unlike no other. You know it in your heart when you’re standing in your values and you have the self confidence and courage to say ‘no’ or go another direction from the familiar voices in your life. The world opens up and you feel fulfillment that you couldn’t realize in any other way. You grow. You become intimate with the divine intelligence within. Gratitude expands. There are no guarantees in life, but I’d much rather make my mistakes on my authentic path than on a path to being a facsimile of something that’s already been done before. Blessings, courage and expansion!
Sandra M Bell
Author of “Lunchtime Joy Magnet” & personal coach