(Warning: This post is approximately 350 words!)
“Do you think we have to fight to be our true selves?” The question came from a busy leader with global impact.
I replied, “The fight for our authentic self is seen in toddlers and teenagers. But, I wonder if fight is the best word?”
I wish I’d said more.
The journey of life is learning to define yourself by who you are, not who others expect you to be. It includes fighting against, fighting for, and letting go. The need to fight to be our true selves is both symptom and expression of the struggle.
When you live authentically you don’t need to fight to be authentic.
Parents, teachers, and authority figures pressure you to conform. In the process you may lose yourself.
My friend asked, “Do you think it’s easy for us to lose ourselves?”
It’s easy to lose yourself when organizational roles define and control you. The higher the role the greater the pressure.
Pressure from others isn’t the problem.
Others have the right to expect things from you. You accepted roles, responsibilities, and commitments.
7 steps toward authenticity:
- Acknowledge and embrace the journey.
- Tell someone you trust about the fight to find your authentic self.
- Don’t beat yourself up. It’s a journey.
- Monitor frustrations, fears, and aspirations. What do they say about who you are.
- Don’t blame others for expecting things from you. The journey is about you, not them.
- Take time to reflect.
- Chart the highlights and lowlights of your life. How have they formed you?
- Unplug and disconnect.
- Find someone to listen and reflect your words back. You learn when you hear yourself in another voice.
- Release your aspirational-self. Aspiration is helpful in most areas, but it’s an obstacle on the journey toward authenticity.
- Explore the fear of disappointing others and yourself. Fear is pressure from internal and external expectation. I’m not suggesting you reject roles and responsibilities, but imagine who you are without them.
- Don’t be rash. Think things over.
Talk things over with someone who doesn’t have a dog in the fight.
What does the journey toward authenticity look like to you?