Updated: Nov 20, 2022
Authenticity is about being true to who you are, even when everyone around you wants you to be someone else. ~Michael Jordan
The path to living an authentic life begins with a simple realization: There's a disconnect between who you are and the person you or others want you to be.
Maybe you're tired of the disconnect. You want to be the person you really are, not the person other people see or want you to be.
You want your inner self to match your outer self. That's what authentic living gives you - an inside that matches your outside.
We're Our Most Comfortable When Our Inside Matches Our Outside
In psychology, the idea that our thoughts need to align with our actions is known as cognitive consistency. Leon Festinger, the psychologist behind this idea, believed that we are driven to act in ways that bring our thoughts and actions into alignment.
If he's right, that's why we're more at ease when our inside matches our outside.
What if there's a gap between where we are and where we want to be? Well, our brain tries to close that gap.
That's a good thing. Why? Because discomfort motivates us to change.
When there's no motivation, there's no change. Motivation gives us the internal drive to follow through on that change. Whether our desire is to live authentically, get a new job, or lose weight, we need the motivation to act.
Change is hard. Living authentically often requires serious change. Not just in what you do, but also in your beliefs about yourself and your abilities.
This article will give you ideas to change the beliefs that keep you from living an authentic life.
5 Things to Let Go of to Live an Authentic Life
If you're ready to live true to yourself and your beliefs, here are five things to let go of as you embark on that journey:
What other people think of you. It's incredibly freeing to let go of other people's opinions. But it's not easy. Be prepared for pushback or resentment as you make changes in your life. If you do get pushback, keep your cool and your confidence, and keep moving ahead.
A defeated attitude when times are hard. Sometimes it's not the criticism of others that sets us back, it's our own attitude. When things go wrong, push back against your inner critic. Don't give up your desire for authenticity because it's hard, and don't let your inner critic tell you that you can't. When you're feeling defeated, interrupt negativity with positivity. Instead of saying"I can't," say "I can and I will."
Little moments of self-sabotage. Sometimes we tell ourselves that doing this little thing or that is ok because it's not that big of a deal. And we do this secretly knowing that what we're about to do isn't a good decision. Let's call that what it really is: self-sabotage. Doing this little thing gives us permission to do that little thing and the next thing and the thing after that. Then we conclude that we failed, and we give up. (Check out these quotes on getting over failure.) Don't fall for self-sabotage. Recognize it for what it is and make different choices.
Nagging self-doubt. Self-doubt kills dreams as surely as moths are drawn to a fire. It drains your self-confidence and fills the void with fear. While fear is a powerful emotion, it's not always a rational or realistic response. Fear is often based on irrational assumptions or unrealistic consequences. It certainly doesn't help you and often creates unnecessary stress and anxiety. Dealing with self-doubt is a lot like dealing with a locked door - it takes a mental and physical effort to get past it. Until you make the decision to open the door and take the physical steps necessary to do that, you're stuck. You can stare at the door or walk away from it, but you can't get through it. Recognize nagging, dream-killing self-doubt for what it frequently is - an irrational fear. Separate what's rational from what's not, then move forward with your life.
Unhealthy attachment to the past. Memories can be a gift or a burden. When the past keeps you from pursuing your future (or pursuing it in a healthy way), your memories become a burden. Sometimes personal growth requires a different way of managing those burdens. Some take on that challenge alone, while others seek help. Every path is different, and that's ok. The only thing that really matters is coming to terms with that burden and moving forward in a way that leads you to live your life with health, peace, and happiness.
When you decide to pursue an authentic life, you're actually making a decision to embark on a journey. A journey with ups and downs, challenges and successes.
One of the challenges during the journey is letting go of beliefs that hold you back. This article addresses five of those beliefs. I hope you find the information helpful.
All the best as you continue your quest to live an authentic life!