Only in the past few years have I really become comfortable being me. Let me explain: I became a pastor in 2000. At that point – fresh out of Bible College, I felt like I needed to have a certain persona. I had to act a certain way, dress a certain way and basically be the person others expected for such a position.
Here I am 17 years later and I dress how I want to dress and say whatever I’m led to say. I use grace with my language of course but there are times when tough love is needed and I bring it. The reality is; I have finally become comfortable being me. Some people will like me and others not so much. And you know what? I’m good with that. Even Jesus had haters.
Authenticity is underrated. It’s more than being honest with the world. It’s about being honest with yourself. There are many advantages to being authentic. Most importantly, you’ll no longer feel the need to change your words and actions to impress others. You can relax and be yourself.
Before you can be authentic, it’s important to know yourself. If you don’t truly know yourself, you will basically mimic others you admire. That isn’t the true “you” either. Authenticity becomes possible when you know what’s important to you. At the very core is your values and goals.
Embrace authenticity and present yourself honestly:
- Give up the need to appear perfect. God made you unique… a masterpiece and that is good enough. And the great thing is, when you don’t need to appear perfect, you’re in the position to be honest. Avoid putting on a show for the rest of the world. You’ll only feel bad about yourself later or worse, you will wear yourself out with this life time game of charades
- It’s okay to be less than spectacular. Be the best at being yourself.
- Know your values and live by them. If you know your values and live by them consistently, you’re already doing well in the authentic department.
- Make a list of your values and determine the five that are most important to you. Are you living your life according to these values? Would it be obvious to others that you hold these values? Remember: It’s one thing to state your core values…and it’s something else to actually live them out!
- Make your decisions based upon your values. Be willing to share your values with others. This will also give you a level of accountability J
- Notice when you’re not being authentic. It’s not easy to be authentic all the time. You might find yourself transforming based on the situation. A first date is a good example. Are you being authentic or pretending to be someone you’re not?
- Take note of those times your authenticity starts to wane.
- People tend to compartmentalize their lives. They are one way at work and someone different at home. They are one way at church and then act differently at home. STOP!! That seems sooo tiring! And… it’s also fake.
- Know your goals. What do you want out of life? Do you know? Are you willing to let others know? By knowing your goals, you can you live your life accordingly.
- Make a list of your short-term and long-term goals. How well do they align with your values?
- Again it’s easy say my goal is ______ or my dream is to _______. You say it’s your “dream” but if you aren’t taking steps in that direction (forward progress) then what you have is merely a day dream that will never be realized.
- What are your defining characteristics? Describe yourself honestly. Now ask yourself if a casual acquaintance would describe you the same way? How about someone that knows you well? How about your closest friend?
- What are your “negative” characteristics? Are you impatient or messy? Are you willing to allow others to see these characteristics or do you attempt to hide them?
- Remember – nobody is perfect! Stop trying to hide all your flaws. You can actually learn to laugh at yourself. It’s ok….
- Simplify your life. Get rid of everything that’s sucking the life out of you. What you choose to keep will be representative of your preferences and your true self. You will find your true “you” by stripping away the non-essentials. Start with the clothes you never wear, the things you never use, and the activities you don’t enjoy. Only keep the things that mean the most to you. Wooohooo… do you feel the stress level lowering?
7. Do what you say you’ll do. Keep your word and follow through on your promises. You’ll feel more whole and live with consistency if you develop this one area. As you live it out, others will know that “what you say is what you do!” When your words and actions match, you’re demonstrating authenticity.
Life becomes easier when you’re living authentically. You’ll no longer feel the exhaustion that comes with constantly changing your opinions, attitudes, and personality to please others. You’ll no longer feel the need to protect yourself from others. Be authentic with your thoughts, words, and actions.
I hope this helps! I hope you are one step closer to being “set free” Que up Skynard’s Freebird – and know everything is going to be ok. This blog post is a wrap! Till next time. JH