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Arriving at Authenticity

Saturday, 17 May 2014 05:43  by Suzanne O.

By having the courage to be yourself, you put something wonderful in the world that was not there before.
   -Edwin Elliot

In society today, many of us are driven to succeed. We have to do more, be more, and give more. We make decisions in a hurry, without a second thought sometimes, because we know that if we take too long the opportunity will be gone. Sometimes making quick decisions is necessary, but too often we make quick decisions that really don’t align with our values or belief systems or are inauthentic to how we view ourselves. We may make a decision because that’s what the boss wants, or that’s what the family wants. We consider everyone else’s opinions of what decision should be made, too often failing to check in with the decision that we would most prefer. From experience, this leads to poor decision-making. When we act before thinking we make decisions that don’t honor ourselves and we too soon find ourselves on a very slippery slope. We can feel like we’re sinking into a void. We may feel increased anxiety or depression. We may become increasingly irritable and have relationship issues. The reason is because in the drive to succeed, we lose sight of our true self and in the end, that’s all we have.

For people with social anxiety, agoraphobia, or low self-esteem, too often we want to be like other people so that we “fit in.” We don’t want attention brought to us. We don’t want to be judged and that’s what we think will happen if we don’t fit in with the crowd or if we speak our own true opinions. In reality, when we don’t have the courage to stand on our own and be who we are, we draw more attention to ourselves and we chronically feel like something in our life doesn’t fit. Anxiety in general worsens because we don’t feel right.

It’s difficult to stand out in a crowd, there’s no doubt about that. That’s why the above quote speaks of courage. To be true to ourselves often means stepping outside of our comfort zone in some ways to make sure we protect our values and beliefs. This takes courage. The idea that we can add something beautiful to the world just by being us is empowering. It is absolutely true that if we never show our authentic self, we will be neglecting to add our gifts to the world. Stepping outside of our present comfort zone is never easy. However, by challenging the limits of our comfort, we find that it is rather fluid and flexible and that we are often safer than we ever thought possible because we are being the expert on the one thing only we can be an expert on… ourselves.

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