1. Understand authentic living
Living a life true to yourself is when you are doing your best to follow the road that is right for you, rather than the road that others want you to go down. To follow your own path in life can sometimes feel frightening, so it needs to be said that the authentic person is not fearless, but is willing to feel their fear to be themselves. The payoff is that you are then able to find ways to use your strengths and talents to their full and, as a result, you become the best version of yourself that you can be.
By being creative, energetic and passionate about what you do, you then create happiness and success in your life and in the lives of those around you.
2. Become unstuck
You can get stuck in terms of life success and happiness when you are not sure who your authentic self is. From when you wake up in the morning to when you go to sleep, there will be at least some points in your day when you can truly be yourself, but for many parts of the day, it is like you are wearing a mask. You do not say or show what you truly think or feel.
There may be good reasons why you do this initially, such as to help you cope with a difficult situation, but if you live inauthentically, day after day, month after month, year after year, eventually it is likely to take a heavy emotional toll.
3. Take off the mask
When what you say and do does not match how you think and feel, it creates an inner psychological tension that can be distressing. You wish to create harmony between what is going on inside you with what you express. In an ideal world, what you say and do would be consistent with what you think and feel, but sometimes it is not easy to take off the mask. You are frightened by the risks that come with being yourself.
You promise yourself that one day, you will be more true to yourself, but not today. Time ticks by, however, and the mask eventually becomes the face. You no longer know who you truly are.
4. Learn to use the formula for an authentic life
There are three things that authentic people do: they know themselves, they own themselves and they are prepared to be themselves. First, authentic people know what they like and dislike; what they are good and less good at; and what they are and are not prepared to do.
Second, owning oneself is about taking responsibility for our choices in life – the authentic person will not let others blind them to their own truth or let others bully them into taking a position that they don’t agree with.
Third, authentic people are willing to say what they think and feel, and to act in ways that are consistent with their beliefs and values. In short, the formula for an authentic life is: know yourself + own yourself + be yourself = the authentic life.
5. Rise to the challenge
Those who are authentic can be challenging. They won’t let people walk over them, but they can also be charming – not in a narcissistic way, but in a genuine way in which they bring out the best in others. Think about the people who you most admire and respect. Chances are they are highly authentic people.
Authentic people are honest, open and assertive, but they are also fair-minded, compassionate and thoughtful. We like authenticity in other people and we want others to think of us as authentic. Ironically, some people will try to fake it, but fakes are soon spotted. Commit to being honest with yourself, and start a real adventure towards living an authentic life.
‘Authentic: How To Be Yourself And Why It Matters’ by Stephen Joseph (Piatkus, £14.99)