Several years ago I made a very important choice in my life — one that would entirely change my perspective of who I was and how I fit into the world around me. I chose to begin living my life authentically. I could never have predicted what the total impact that decision would have on my life experience from that moment forward.
I knew that not everyone in my current sphere of friends, family, or coworkers would appreciate my new approach to living, but I felt it was too critical to my journey toward self-acceptance.
I consumed stacks of self-help books on relationships, and spent months in therapy (several times in fact) trying to discover why I kept finding myself in self-sabatoging situations. All of the content I consumed led me to the same conclusion. I needed to love myself first before anyone else could love me in a genuine way. Because, if I continued to focus on trying to do things that I thought made the people around me accept me… it wasn’t the “real” me they were accepting. It was someone I thought they wanted me to be. And, I found myself wondering a couple things… who was I really, and did I really like who I was?
I explored this time of introspection by making lists. Lists that were titled:
- Character traits I expect from my friends.
- Character traits I expect from my family.
- Character traits I expect from my coworkers.
- Character traits I expect from my partner.
After I did that exercize, I sat with my lists for a while. I really pondered how I wanted to be treated by the people around me, in all aspects of my life…. all types of relationships in my life. Then I did the hard part… I went through each character trait on that list, and I asked myself if I was exuding these character traits to the people I identified in my lists. In other words, if I expect this behavior from the people around me, was I behaving that way towards them?
If not, why should I expect them to treat me how I wanted them to?
This was a very enlightening exercize for me, and made me realize I had to make some changes in how I interacted with others in all aspects of my life if I expected people to reciprocate.
I know this doesn’t seem like it relates to the topic of “authentic living”, and it only will if you are truthful with yourself during this process, and how well you deliver behaviors you expect from others.
After this period of introspection, I started to make changes in how I related to others, and I saw an amazing shift in how people responded to me. They treated me with more respect (because I delivered more respect). They told me the truth in a compassionate manner (because I began to be more truthful about my feelings and what my boundaries were). They accepted and embraced my flaws (because I opened my eyes to the fact that when people are comfortable with their flaws, they are more beautiful and amazing than someone who pretends to be perfect… their version of perfect).
Amazing things started to happen when I became more authentic. I liked myself more, and the people who stayed with me through this process are more authentic with me. It’s created an environment in my life of mutual respect and acceptance that I never had before.
Sure there will be some people who may not like the “authentic” you, but keep this in mind — “like” mirrors “like”. So, as you grow into the authentic you, you will attract people into your life who mirror the traits you demonstrate towards others.
Love and Light,