So excited to get this second half of the MAS started! What better topic to have it be on than authenticity in everything you do. Student, teacher, athlete, businessman, etc. There are so many titles out there that define what it is that you do. However, most times people get this confused with who they are. Now, there’s nothing wrong with having something that you can tell people about yourself that will easily resonate with them, but the exposure effect might cause some issues with that.
When you tell people that you are an athlete (for example), they start building a profile of the characteristics that they believe an athlete would have. Fame, money, physical wellness, and probably a whole lot of other stereotypes come to mind when you think about the “average” athlete. The good news is that the person you’re speaking with now knows how to relate to you using the term “athlete,” the bad news is that you might start buying into the same story.
If you believe that you are an “athlete” your whole life and then you stop playing sports, what then? What do you tell people? How do you change the identifier you gave yourself so long ago that constantly was validated by other people? All really good questions. The answer to them is simple, it doesn’t matter what other people think because it only matters if you are always being authentic to yourself.
Who Are You?
What is the difference between the questions “What do you do?” and “Tell me about yourself?” To the person asking there’s usually nothing different about that question, but to the person answering there is a huge difference. When you answer the first question, you probably are looking for some type of label to sum up your characteristics so people can get a quick idea about you. If you’re answering the second question, you suddenly feel like you’ve been given permission to elaborate about who YOU are. You are your values, habits, dreams, emotions, thoughts and actions all wrapped up in one perfectly unique package. You have a one-of-a-kind story and it’s a shame if you can’t share it with the world.
Take time and really think about what makes you unique. Is it your hobbies, skills, emotional IQ, beliefs, or something else? It’s important to understand who you are at your core and what makes you a unique individual because it is where the answers to everything you will be challenged with are. When you are authentic, you have an answer for everything and anything.
Who Are You Being?
When you label yourself there are a couple of fun challenges that come up for us. First, we are saying to other people what they could expect from us which turns on the mental forecasting mechanism within us. The problem with forecasting is that it creates a path that we think we need to be on and when we need to be at certain milestones when there are literally no facts backing that timeline. What happens when you don’t meet your expectations? WILD GUESS! You probably get upset, frustrated, depressed, and begin questioning everything. Good! You’re questioning it all because your brain tried to create this perfect map and it wasn’t YOUR journey which is why you couldn’t follow it. Expectations are the hidden killers of dreams. They frustrate you in the short term and pull your attention away from the long-term goals you have. There is honestly nothing great about hidden expectations.
Secondly, when you label yourself, you start the amazing process of energetic validation. I talk about energetic validation all the time and it’s because it is so incredibly powerful. When you start telling people your “label” then your brain starts to find/create ways to validate that label. When you use this for positive purposes then you love energetic validation, but when you are validating a life that isn’t yours then you’re in trouble. Judgment, frustration, confusion, and burnout are key clues that should let you know if you are validating something that isn’t authentic. LISTEN TO IT! You’re upset because your gut knows there is a better, more authentic life for you and is trying to tell you to stop going in the wrong direction. If you’re feeling a sense of being lost, it just means that it’s time to take a step back and look at the whole picture and make sure you feel alignment internally with your external situation.
Discovering & Sharing Your Unique Self?
I’ll keep this section short. If you want to discover your unique self, get a coach. You have an agenda for yourself and want to discover certain things about yourself, but you have a vested interest in what you find. Family, friends, and most other parties are in the same boat, they want to tell you who you are and may not always be right. A coach is objective, we just listen to you and start making observations and notice shifts in energy based on emotions, thoughts, and actions. We are disassociated from an outcome and only want you to discover unique qualities about yourself and let you decide how they align with you internally.
Sharing your unique self can only happen when you’ve discovered what makes you unique and understand how you might apply those qualities to your everyday life. Once again, having a coach is great for this. You’ll probably be asked “what would be different if you approached X using Y?” This gives people the space to start seeing the world differently from their unique perspective.
How the heck are we supposed to grow and develop authentically when there seems to be a blueprint for how I’m supposed to do everything? Just like sharing your unique self, it’s all about how you apply what you know through the way you know how to do it. It’s more than OK to frame an approach on what someone else is doing, but how you execute is what makes you authentic. Learning authentically is taking something and making small tweaks to it so it becomes ingrained within you. For example, if you are a creative person then taking a creative approach to something highly technical like visualizing and diagramming steps might help you more than manuals and technical jargon. It all depends on how you want to learn something and then discovering what it would look like to learn something in that way.
Whatever you decide to do, do it. Even if you don’t know exactly what “authentic” means to you now, you will learn the more you get experience from taking action. The most important thing is to notice when things feel effortless VS when you feel friction in your work. Take note of the things that come easily and find ways to apply those tactics to any strategy you have for yourself. Most of all, just keep being you.