Living Authentically Series

Hello again friends.  I know it has been quite a bit of time since I have posted here. Life has a way of really taking off and I can feel like I am just running from one thing to another taking deep breaths along the way.  The thing is a lot of what is happening in life is really good stuff. At times, too much good stuff (can that even be a thing?) however what it leaves me with is very little time to write.  I’ve missed it very much. I’ve had others ask me, “what about that writing thing you are doing?”. So, because of a very sweet friend, I actually joined a group that helps writers with many aspects of writing but one part is creating time to sit and write and so here I am.  I thought a great return post would be about being authentic. Certainly I am sharing why I have been absent from this blog but also living authentically is something that comes up almost every day in my professional and personal life, so I thought I would begin with this post and create a series about living authentically to address so much of what comes to me through other’s struggles and from my own experiences.

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Authentic.  How does that word even resonate with you?  To me it brings strong feelings of vulnerability.   Openness. Realness. Honesty. All really great feelings but for me and I know for others vulnerability is not the most comfortable emotion and quite frankly many, myself included at times, run from it.  According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, authentic means:

  • not false or imitation.  REAL. ACTUAL.
  • True to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.

I think when we show up as real and genuine, it requires a certain degree of courage with allowing our true selves to be seen.  We put ourselves at risk of judgement, being criticized, and honestly having conflict with those who may not agree. So I believe many of us struggle with being authentic and it is just not the teens I work with, it is the adults in their lives as well.  To some degree I believe the teens learn this from how it is modeled by the adults in their lives.

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So when I’m asked “how do I live more authentically?”  Here is what I know, there are several characteristics or traits that those who truly live authentically strive to possess and I have always said to clients, teens, friends, and family, we are a work in progress and this is one of those areas that is a continual process. Being able to put serious consideration and improvement into developing these traits is so necessary for ourselves and for those in our lives.  According to Psychology Today, the following traits are significantly apparent in those living genuinely:

  • Are accepting of themselves and of others and understand that we are all unique.
  • Are thoughtful, kind, and give love to others.
  • Have a respectful sense of humor.
  • Can express their emotions freely, clearly, and in a healthy way.
  • Are open to learning from their mistakes and accept their weaknesses.
  • Have an awareness of their values and desires and live life connected to those and understands what motivates them.
  • Take responsibility for their lives.
  • View reality in a realistic way.

I think when we consider the teens in our lives, this list of characteristics may be a bit tough for them to fully possess.  Part of what makes the struggle real is that several of these things are areas where typically teens are working to develop.  Many of the adults in teen’s lives (myself included) continually work in this area and find it to be a struggle at times as well. During times of changes with our career or with friends and family members, we find ourselves reevaluating what causes us to struggle with living authentically and it is necessary to find solutions to this so we can all live from a more healthy place. To be so honest, we all have stuff.  Behind every closed front door, there are struggles.  Some are Earth shattering struggles that the people behind the door are trying their best to come to terms with.  But so many are doing this in hiding. And while they are struggling with what is real behind the closed front door, they are presenting their lives as perfect.  This gives those around them a sense that they can’t share things, especially the struggles, because of being ashamed that they don’t have the perfect life too.

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I’m not suggesting that we hang all of our “dirty” laundry out for the whole world to see and to know but finding a way to show up, support each other, and be real with each other rather than judging and having conversations behind each other’s backs is so important.  If we don’t we will continue to feel disconnected, lost, and fighting through struggles in silence. In addition, according to Kerri’s, Goldman, and others, those living authentically tend to feel better, are more resilient, and are less likely to turn to self-destructive habits for comfort.  They also tend to be intentional in their choices and are more likely to follow through on their goals. Furthermore, they tend to have strong, deep connections with others. I don’t know about you but I yearn for this. To be seen as I am and be acknowledged, accepted, loved, and supported as I walk through life.

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