authenticity

The Number One Reason We Prevent Our Own Progress (and what you can do about it) Part Three

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So far we have looked at the benefits to accepting our weaknesses and the psychological reasons we reject them. This week we explore how authenticity and accepting our weaknesses feeds into one another and how we can benefit from this. We’ll also take a look at a nifty exercise that will enable you to be more compassionate towards yourself when it comes to your weaknesses.

 

Authenticity and Accepting Your Weaknesses

 

When we fail to accept our weaknesses it naturally undermines our authenticity. After all, how can we be true to who we are if we are unaware of our weaknesses, which is part of who we are? True authenticity involves self-awareness and means both knowing and accepting ourselves completely, including our weaknesses.

 

When I failed to accept my weaknesses it raised my stress levels. It was subtle enough for me not to notice, but, when I accepted my flaws, I noticed a distinct difference. I felt lighter and more care free.

 

I realized that without even being aware, I was different around different groups of friends, causing me anxiety that one day I would be ‘found out’ as the odd one out. This is what not accepting our flaws does – it contributes to in-authenticity and causes us to wear masks, preventing us from establishing true intimacy with those we are close to and adding to our feeling of isolation.

 

In accepting our weaknesses we are free to drop the masks we wear and just be ourselves, increasing both authenticity and intimacy with those we care about.

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The Number One Reason We Prevent Our Own Progress (and what you can do about it) Part One

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When I was growing up I was bullied and frequently used to be called ugly. One of the coping mechanisms I adopted was to place a great deal of importance on my appearance. In reality I over compensated and became quite vain. For years I was blind to my own vanity until I began to accept myself, including my weaknesses.

 

What I soon discovered was that, in acknowledging my own vanity, I had empowered myself to overcome it. Like so many of us I had resisted acknowledging my weaknesses because it felt safer that way; it was scary to accept that there was a disconnect between my perception of myself and the reality of how I thought and behaved.

 

But once I did everything changed. I was able to examine why I was vain and see if my vanity served any psychological need. I was able to explore how I could fulfill the psychological need it served in a more healthy way.

 

By analyzing myself and my weaknesses in this way, I was able to overcome them; something I could never have done if I had been unwilling to accept my weaknesses in the first place.

 

In this series I will reveal how not accepting our weaknesses causes so many of to remain stuck, damaging our personal development and preventing us from stepping into our full potential.

 

Throughout the series I will walk you through the process step by step – all that is required from you is the courage to be completely honest and the self-esteem to know your innate worth despite your flaws.

 

Benefits of Accepting Your Weaknesses

 

When you know your weaknesses, you can play to your strengths more. For example, if you suffer from social anxiety when in big groups or at parties you could arrange intimate gatherings with friends instead so that you will be more at ease and able to invest more into your friendships.

 

This isn’t to say that you should avoid big groups or parties and accept your weakness as absolute but rather that if you decide you want to work on your social anxiety (insert any weakness) you can work on it gradually, thereby placing less immediate pressure on yourself. Hence, once we accept our weaknesses we are empowered to work on them, thereby improving – and even overcoming them – in time.

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The Rough Seas of the Roles We Inhabit and How to Calm the Waters Part Two

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Identity and life roles; how to avoid isolation and devastation

 

Throughout life there will be roles we inhabit which we identify strongly with, like being a parent or professional. Although it is healthy to identify with these roles, the old adage that too much of a good thing is bad for you can be quite true. The danger in identifying with any one role too greatly is, should the role dynamic change or even cease to be, it can devastate us. Have you ever heard of the ’empty nest’ syndrome? This is how it happens.

 

For me it happened when I identified too strongly with being a model, as soon as I no longer was one, I was depressed, as if part of me had ceased to exist. I soon found other roles to latch onto, which I now know only perpetuated the problem, rather than eradicating it by choosing to focus on my core identity instead.

 

On reflection the issues I had surrounding my identity were compounded by the fact I often hid behind different masks for the life roles I inhabited, never quite being authentic and revealing my core self. During those years it was a very lonely existence. It was as if the rough seas of my life roles had thrown me overboard and I was trying to swim against the tide, with my fear of intimacy battling against my authentic self so that I would remain masked and stay hidden.

 

Of course it is natural each life role you inhabit will draw on different elements to your character, but your core self should always be the captain of the ship, steering you on a calm course throughout each life role, letting your genuine character and authenticity shine.

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How shyness can inhibit and how confidence can set you free to be you

 

True confidence comes from within and can liberate you to vocalize and present your authentic self to the world. Whilst shyness is sometimes perfectly natural, if it is chronic and indiscriminate it can inhibit us whereby we fall short of being our true selves.

 

Throughout the series we will be looking at ways we can develop lasting confidence, but here are a few tips if you often feel shy around others:

 

  • Don’t admit you’re shy
  • Don’t label yourself as shy, thereby limiting your self-identity
  • Tell your inner critic it’s not needed anymore
  • Ask questions and let others do the legwork in conversation
  • Consider taking acting classes

 

It’s worth remembering though that shyness isn’t a flaw in any way – it is simply an inhibited state and is neither good nor bad. I would encourage you to only work on your shyness and becoming more confident if you feel it is limiting the quality of your social interactions or personal emotional state.

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Why assertiveness helps us to be authentic with family

All too often people confuse assertiveness with rudeness or aggression. Some say ‘I say it like it is!’ or think that brutal honesty which can often be hurtful is somehow assertive. Others still think that the opposite to being passive or a ‘pushover’ is to be tough minded and always get what you want. The truth is that truly assertive people are neither disrespectful, rude nor aggressive. Genuinely assertive people are considerate of others whilst diplomatically expressing their own thoughts, feelings, beliefs or values. They are neither passive or aggressive and they protect both their own rights and others rights when communicating.

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Why we protect our family unnecessarily, preventing real intimacy (and how to stop it)

 

I remember being bullied as a child and telling my parents for the first time. I was only five years old but I could plainly see how sad they were and how much it hurt them to know I was in pain. I told them several times after that but I soon learnt to protect them from my pain in an effort to spare them of theirs. When I had my breakdown as a result of chronic untreated depression I knew that I had to be honest with them about what I was going through and I’m so glad I was. For the first time in years they knew what I was going through and were in a position to empathise, help, comfort and support me. As a result of being honest with them our bond became stronger, deeper and our connection was more authentic.

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An Authentic Life: High self-esteem – the trademark of an authentic person and how to harness it

When we think of an authentic person we naturally think of someone who knows what they want out of life, someone who knows who they are and is confident in themselves. It then follows that such a person would have a relatively high level of self-esteem. Oxford dictionaries online defines self-esteem as:

 

 “Confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect”

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An Authentic Life: Protecting your goals and priorities by using assertiveness

It is one of the most natural things in the world to want to avoid conflict. Often people think that when they express a difference of opinion or decline an invitation that conflict or upset will ensue and whilst that can sometimes be the case, most of the time it is an unfounded concern. The key is asserting yourself in such a way that you are considerate of others feelings whilst communicating what you need to.

 

As a rule, being assertive has four key steps, being:

 

  1. Acknowledge what the other person has said
  2. State the facts of the situation in unbiased language
  3. State the impact the situation has had on you
  4. Ask for what you want in future

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An Authentic Life: Setting Your OWN Priorities

If we want to lead truly authentic lives it then follows that we first need to be honest with ourselves. Honest about what we want for our lives (our goals) and honest about what is most important to us (our priorities).

 

When we are honest about what our priorities are we can then organize our time in such a way that it reflects what is most important to us. For example, I have declined a social engagement in favor of working on my writing, as that is what is most important to me. It’s worth mentioning that although I do prioritize writing, I also take time out to see friends, so that I have fun and avoid burn out.

 

If you find you have a tendency to people please and find it hard saying no (which you will need to do at times if you want a life that reflects your priorities instead of others) please read ‘Sick of over-extending yourself? Learn how to say no’.

 

Think of it a little like a three step process, being:

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How to Stop Worrying What People Think And Start Being Authentic in 6 Easy Steps Part Three

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

 

Benefits of Living an Authentic Life:

 

Authenticity offers many benefits. There is a feeling of fulfilment that comes from being genuine and being accepted for who you truly are. When you are authentic your self-awareness increases and you develop a strong identity. You have a high level of integrity due to your honesty and your self-esteem increases as a result. Decisions are easier to make because you know what your core values are and what fits in line with them. You take your own needs seriously and consequently do what really matters to you, living in tune with your goals and dreams. All of these advantages translate into a happier more contented life, a life with an abundance of meaning and passion.

 

6 Steps to Living an Authentic Life:

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