Over the course of my life I have been exploring parenting and other relationships and have found one thing to be of utmost importance, authenticity. What I mean by this is living what you think and believe. In order to do this you have to know what that is, and how it looks to you.
There are two exercises which can help every person figure this out. The first is to write the eulogy you would like given about you, then live your life accordingly. The second is to write down your top ten values. Honesty, for instance. Then examine how you are living. Are these values being lived and expressed out loud daily?
Living an authentic life is the foundation of not just living well, but being happy and content. No person can be truly fulfilled living their life based on someone else’s idea of what is important. This gets in the way of having truly deep and meaningful relationships. Because if we do not have a relationship with ourselves based on honesty and respect, there is no way to have that kind of bond with anyone else.
Learning to live authentically is very challenging because there are so many people in our lives who want us to believe what they do. We learn conformity early and it becomes habit. Let me be clear; this is not about rebelling against authority. Instead, it is about learning to be true to yourself. Being true to yourself may include civil disobedience, but does not include acts of violence. Your living authentically ends with infringing on another’s ability to do the same.
Choosing to live according to what you personally think and believe can cause friction with people in your life. This is especially true if you have been a people pleaser. Be encouraged though, because life is full of changes. And for you, this is not actually change. It is simply aligning your thoughts, beliefs, words, and actions.
This alignment can help build other relationships. You can start by talking about your desire to learn authentic living. Give people specific examples of how you have not been living this way and how you want to change. Ask for their patience, support, and tell them you are sure to get it wrong many times before you get it right. If the people around you understand that sometimes you will need to step back and say “yes” when you originally said “no” and vice versa, it will give everyone a chance to see this as true authentically.
Learning to live an authentic life is helping me drill down to not only understanding myself, it is also helping me to inspire others. It is amazing how the more I live authentically, the more I want to help others do the same. Ultimately, authentic living is about the relationship you have with you, and this is the most important relationship of all.