How to find your authentic self

Kathryn Wheeler
By Kathryn Wheeler,
updated on Jun 10, 2021

How to find your authentic self

Get to know yourself, and begin living a more authentic life

What does it mean to live an authentic life? And how do you know if you’re being authentically you?

We all deal with certain pressures, to conform and compromise, from the people around us – our peers, partners, family, friends, employers, and society as a whole. And that’s not always a bad thing – being part of a community is an important and supportive part of life. The point at which it becomes a problem is if you feel as though the balance is off, or that you’re making choices that don’t sit right with your core set of values.

Uncovering your authentic self and living your life accordingly unlocks a whole new layer of confidence and contentedness. Here, we explore the steps that you can take to embrace authenticity.

Work out what your core values are

Think about the things that really matter to you. Are there specific causes or virtues that you really value? Or elements of your life that mean a lot? For example, you may be a very family-oriented person, and find a lot of joy in spending quality time with the people that you love. Or maybe you’re very focused on your career, and your aspirations are tied up in success at work.

More broadly, think about the virtues that really matter to you: kindness, empathy, honesty, determination, logic, openness, freedom, loyalty, creativity, and anything else that resonates with you. Next, try to narrow down your core values to two or three that feel most important to you. Consider whether your life aligns with them, as they should form the foundation of the choices that you make.

What causes you to act?

What things make you want to get up and make a difference, or motivate you to take action in your own life?

Is there something in particular that puts a spring in your step or lights a fire inside you, propelling you forward? Something you’re excited to jump out of bed and dive into, or can’t stop dreaming about?

Sometimes, our motivation levels can tell us things about ourselves that we hadn’t consciously picked up on before. Take a moment to notice what your drive can tell you about yourself, and see if this is something you can dig into.

Establish your boundaries

When our boundaries aren’t in place, it can be easy to lapse away from our authentic selves. It’s therefore important that we set boundaries with all the people in our lives, our partners, friends, family, and colleagues.

We can set boundaries when it comes to our time, energy, emotions, ethics, personal space, and standards. And while it’s not always easy to do, and can involve some frank conversations, putting these boundaries in place is an important part of authentic living.

These conversations don’t need to be confrontational, just honest, and it’s important to remember that our boundaries can be flexible.

What are you like when you’re on your own?

When there’s no one else around to tell you what to do, or to judge your choices, what are you like? What kind of music do you listen to, or films do you watch? Where do you find joy? How do you go about your day, and what are your priorities?

If nothing instantly comes to mind, try to schedule some time to get to know yourself. It doesn’t have to be a whole day, even a couple of hours in the evening will do. Be mindful of the things that you are drawn to, and what that could tell you about yourself.

Work with a life coach

A life coach will be able to sit down with you to assess your current situation and the goals that you want to achieve, and then work to provide you with an actional plan to help you reach these goals.

Learning to live an authentic life isn’t always straightforward, and you may need to work on other areas of your life – such as self-confidence, self-knowlegde, and goal-setting. Having a professional by your side to guide you on your journey can make the experience focused and fruitful.

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