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How to Live More Authentically

Ladies blowing bubbles living an authentic life

Sometimes we know we are not feeling quite right about situations or about how we are living our lives. We may be feeling challenged by other people’s expectations and annoyed by the situations and circumstances we find ourselves in. It may be difficult to pinpoint what the exact problem is that is causing us to feel these things. The answer could be we are simply not being our authentic selves. In fact, we may be experiencing self-alienation.

Self-alienation is a condition in which individuals are out of contact with their own needs, feelings, emotions, frustrations and longings. They are oblivious to their actual self and their life is merely a reflection of an unreal self, of a role they have adopted.  We all take on different roles with different people in a variety of settings. When we willingly take on these roles and they match up with our values, it works just fine and there is balance. However, if we continually find ourselves in roles we did not choose, that do not match our values and that perhaps go on longer than we anticipated, we run the risk of becoming inauthentic.

If we live a life of inauthenticity and self-alienation we can set ourselves up for a lifetime of anxiety, depression and a stress (fight or flight) response that is continually “on”. This can lead us down the path towards a multitude of mental health and physical health problems.

The good news is there are things we can do to get ourselves back in alignment with our true, genuine selves. It just takes some self-reflection and a willingness to prioritize our health and our needs first. The following tips can start us on the journey to becoming more authentic.

  • Make Time for Self- Reflection

It is so important to give yourself the gift of self-reflection. Before we can be authentic we need to figure out who our true self really is. We need to take time to ponder what our values are and to analyze why they are our values. We can also reflect about how our perceptions of ourselves can block us from moving forward to do the things in life we wish to do or that feel right to do.  For example, we may be feeling very self-conscious and worry about what other people think of us. This belief can stop us from exploring all sorts of things and quash dreams and goals we try to set for ourselves. Part of self-reflection in this case would involve drilling down to why we feel self-conscious and asking questions such as: When did this feeling start? Why do I believe this? What would happen if I tried something I was worried about attempting?  Should I care about what other people think, if so, why?

  • Do you put the “P” in People Pleasing?

If, upon reflection, you identify as a people pleaser, you may be doing yourself harm.  We need to question why we think our role in life is to make other people happy and to ensure they are pleased with our personality and our performance. This may come from a deep-seated need to be liked or loved or it may come from other insecurities that we have developed along the way. Let’s be clear, people pleasing is very different from doing nice, thoughtful things for others. These gestures are important for establishing and enriching relationships. We run into trouble when we find ourselves doing things that do not match our philosophies and beliefs. It also becomes problematic when we put pleasing people as our top priority in life. This activity can lead to feelings of anger, resentment, frustration and disappointment, especially when the people we are trying to please do not reciprocate and support us.

One way to tackle excessive people pleasing is to practice saying no. It can be one of the most difficult things for us to do and yet it can be one of the most freeing things we can do for ourselves. Saying no does not mean we are being unkind, selfish or rude. So, how do we say this magical, two-letter word? We can start by being direct and not waffling by simply stating “ thank you for asking, but no I can’t”. We do not need to apologize for saying no or lie about why we are saying no as both of these actions can lead to feeling guilty.  We should not say we would think about the request if we really do not mean it as this can add pressure and could ultimately cause us to say yes, when we really did not want to.  If we have trouble with this, we can try visualizing saying no and think about how that would feel, then compare it to how we would feel if we said yes.

  • Have Compassion for Yourself

We are often very hard on ourselves and we can tend to buy into the negative thoughts and misinterpretations that run through our minds. Self-love and self-care are not just things we can put aside and do later when we have time. They are essential activities that need to occur on a daily basis. Investing in ourselves leads to a more clear understanding of who we are and it increases our sense of self-worth.

Being present or mindful can lead us to some amazing discoveries. Taking time for meditation, walks in nature, savouring our experiences and practicing gratitude can help to provide insight and personal knowing.

Taking our selves out on a date can been very enlightening. For example, there is nothing wrong with a table for one at a restaurant, or taking a stroll through the zoo by your self. In fact, being present in those moments, without worrying about anyone else can be very empowering. Learning to be alone with ourselves and tuning in to how we are feeling emotionally, spiritually and physically is one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves. We need to remember we are worth the investment of time and we are deserving of the gift of self-compassion.    

  • Be Prepared, This Could Get Rocky

When we turn our thoughts inward and transition to leading a more authentic life, others may not like it one bit. People around us are used to seeing us in certain ways and view our behaviours as being predictable and unchanging. But, that is not who we are. We are constantly changing and evolving over time. Change can be very threatening to others, so we need to mindful that we may be the recipient of negative behaviours and actions.  People will either adapt to the  “new” you or they will not and we have to make peace with that. We may lose people along the way, but if we keep ourselves as our priority we may come to realize the relationship we had with a person who leaves, may not have been the healthiest relationship to begin with.

The way to prepare for the reactions of other people is to remind ourselves why we started our authentic journey in the first place. We will need to visit our beliefs and values often to ensure they are our guides through turbulent times.  If we allow people to plant seeds of doubt about what we are doing, we will continue to self-alienate and be oppressed by other people’s opinions of us.

Finding Your Curiosity

Finding Your Curiosity

Finding Your Passion Curiosity

If you are like a lot of people we know, you will have come up against the proverbial question, “what is your passion?” more than once in life. Or you have found yourself needing a career/life change and want to go in a different direction. When faced with this conundrum, we are told, the best place to start is to figure out what our passion is. For some, the answer is immediate and their enthusiasm and excitement is readily seen, but for many others, the answer to the passion question is frustratingly elusive.

Can you think of something that you have a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm or desire for? If so, that is great. You have identified something you are passionate about – wonderful!  If nothing comes immediately to mind, that is okay. It just means you may need to view finding your passion in another way. We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to find our passion. We may start to feel something is wrong with us if we can’t identify something that we have a passion for. With so much pressure put on us by ourselves and possibly by others too, it is time we really got rid of the “find your passion” notion and turn things around to think about finding/exploring your curiosity instead. 

Sometimes we put up roadblocks to exploring our curiosity as people may think; it is a waste of time; they do not have time due to work, family and other commitments; they simply are not sure how to become more curious about things; or they are worried about “killing the cat”.

First of all, we need to stop worrying about killing cats with all of this curiosity exploration. We were curious, so we looked this up and found that curiosity did not kill the cat after all. Turns out, the original mention about what kills cats, was made in a 1598 play entitled, “Every Man in his Humour” written by English playwright, Ben Jonson. It is stated in the play that care actually killed the cat, not curiosity. In other words, sorrow or worry killed the wee beast.

Setting aside time in the day to simply be curious is a very freeing and fulfilling activity and demands that we be present for those few minutes in the day. The best part about finding your curiosity is that you can do it anywhere, even in the middle of a hectic workday and it can be quite rejuvenating. For example, it is 3:00pm and it is the first time in your day where you can take a break. Look around your office, what do you see? Pick an item, like the artwork on the wall. What does it depict? Are you curious about what it represents or about an activity it is portraying? Have you ever tried the activity or would you want to? If you keep exploring, you may find you have a natural curiosity about a subject you have not thought of before and this curiosity may lead you to discover a passion you have yet to tap into. All of which can come about because you gave yourself permission to stop what you were, to be present and to be open and inviting to new ways of thinking about things.

Okay, so no more excuses for shying away from allowing your inner explorer loose.

Let’s start with asking questions. How many questions have you asked today? It is estimated that from the ages of 2 to 5 years children ask about 40,000 questions. We are all born with a sense of natural curiosity and children use the question-asking approach as one way to scratch their curiosity itch and to explore their world. By the time we get to adulthood, we end up asking fewer and fewer questions – we once heard an Illusionist state during his performance, that the number was 12 questions per day! Not sure if this is scientifically proven, but it does make one curious doesn’t it?

Why is it Good to Ask Questions?

  1. When you ask questions and you are curious about things you release dopamine, a powerful chemical in your brain that helps you to feel enjoyment and pleasure. It also causes you to seek, desire, search and increase goal directed behaviour
  2. You will never be bored again and you will create a sense of adventure/surprise during your day. For example, the next time you are stuck in a line-up or in traffic, challenge yourself to be curious about your surroundings, rather than be bored or frustrated. If you are stuck in a line-up, imagine you are in the middle of a novel and the people around you are characters in the book. Who are they, what is their back-story, what plot twists do they bring? Or, start a conversation with someone in line by making a positive comment about something they are wearing and asking where they got it or what it means to them.  All of this may sound frivolous, but it is a great exercise to get a jump start on revving up your curiosity engine and to get you thinking about other interests, being open to new information and possible avenues to explore on your way to finding your passion
  3. We tend to put our own egocentric spin on things because it is familiar, like an old pair of sweatpants that we just can’t seem to stop wearing because they are so comfy and cozy. Asking questions helps you to break free of the usual way you view your world and allows for new possibilities and concepts to appear to you
  4. We may need to give ourselves permission to ask questions. We used to be those children asking all of those questions, but our educational experiences and societal expectations may have taught us that asking questions is a sign of weakness or a sign of a lack of intelligence. Nothing could be further from the truth as we expand and maintain our intelligence by asking questions
  5. Asking questions is a form of active learning, during which you are listening to the answers, processing the information, and generating more questions and new ways of thinking about things. This is a far better way to stimulate and satisfy your curiosity (stimulating your passions) than passively receiving information from sources where you can’t ask questions. Yes, we realize this blog is an example of a passive transmission of information. This is why we are always open to exploring questions, either by contacting us or through our workshops (shameless self-promotion – but we truly would love to have an opportunity to explore questioning with you).

Our sense of curiosity is always readily available and we need to take action in order to find our passions. We can’t just sit and think about what we may be passionate about. We have to get actively involved in our communities to explore, participate, interact and make connections to people and activities we are curious about. Finding your curiosity is a great excuse to meet others along the passion trail, so why not get exploring to see what passions you share.

Being a Worry Wart can Stifle Creativity

Worried Woman

We came across this quote (apologies, as we have been unable to find the author), “if you worry about being wrong, you will not create anything that is new”. We have posted it up in the office and doing so serves a few functions; it covers the hole in the wall made by the dog (loooong story) and it reminds us to keep our worry-wartitis in check, allowing us to continue working our way toward our goals.

Fear and worry about becoming or trying something new tends to cause us to leave our ambitions and dreams in the rear view mirror and creates this inner dialogue that keeps repeating; “I would do or be such and such, but I can’t because…” This is a waste of good neuronal activity and the more we repeat these messages, the more they become fact and reality, ultimately leaving us stuck with buckets full of wishful thinking.

While milling over the quote, we wondered why people think specific actions are “wrong” and why there is so much worry about such actions. It seems odd when we think about the process of invention for example, where we know it takes many tries and many wrong attempts to eventually create something new and miraculous. Take Patricia Bath as an example. She became the first African American female to complete a residency in ophthalmology in 1973. Two years later, she became the first female faculty member in the Department of Ophthalmology at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute. After hours upon hours in the lab (experiencing many “wrongs”), she invented the Laser Phacoprobe, a device used around the world to treat cataracts, for which she became the first African-American female doctor to receive a patent for a medical device in 1988.

Why do we fuss so much about being wrong? Are we afraid we are a goofball, do we feel like an imposter, will we experience financial or relationship ruin? The sky is the limit when it comes to perceived wrongs that may occur when one is about to traverse the land of the “new”.  Granted some of these worries may be grounded in kernels of truth, but this is why it is so important to take some time to pick away at these worrisome wrongs and see if they truly are something to sport the worry warts for.

How do we do this?  Let’s take a look at the following chart below, with an example included to see how we can pick away at these worries:

What new thing/action do you want to create?I want to write a blog  
What are you worried about?I am not sure I am a good writer
I don’t think people will want to read my stuff
I do not know how to write a blog
What specifically could go wrong?I will embarrass myself
My friends will think I am out of my mind
I will feel disempowered
What can you change or challenge about the perceived wrong?I can learn how to write blogs
I can take the pressure off by realizing
I am writing for myself and not for others
I can focus on the process, not the final outcome and feel the power that comes with enjoying the process
I can talk to my friends, share my worries and ask for their support

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “do one thing everyday that scares you”. What a great practice to get in to, simple and ingenious and only you need to know you are doing it, but why the heck would we do this to ourselves? For the simple reason, it challenges our worry-wartitis and it helps us to gain confidence and competence, two key ingredients needed to make the worrying and the “wrongs” go away, or at least turn them into dull, imperceptible murmurs. A great example of this took place when Carling was learning how to drive. I think it is safe to say, we were both scared about the process of jumping into the car with her at the wheel. But we did it, albeit with a few hard stops and starts (and that was just Mom with her foot on the imaginary brake in the passenger seat). As the process went on, we grew in competence and confidence and it was an invigorating experience for both of us.  Obviously, if we excessively worried about what would go wrong, we would never have created this new, talented and empowered driver and Mom’s taxi service would have been way too much in demand!

We need to start small with our selection of something scary (only you will know what this is), but maybe it is calling up your internet provider to advocate for a lower rate, or saying hello to a secret crush, joining an advocacy group, or just even stepping outside the house for an hour – these may be small things for some, but absolutely big things for others. The point is, we need to have some successes with the scary things in order to build on them and to increase our belief in ourselves, which will in turn, reduce the worries about being wrong when trying and creating new things.

Let’s let Mrs. Roosevelt have the last word as she said, “a woman is like a tea bag, you never know how strong she is until she is in hot water”  (aka, until she is trying new things/experiencing challenges and shedding worries – warts and all).

To learn how building resilience can help take away some of the worrying, please join us for our Authenticity Workshop

If you would like more information about specific actions you can take to reduce worrying, you can find suggestions in our Worksheet section.

We Are Here!

Triple E Workshops Logo

Welcome to our very first post. Hopefully, you have had a chance to click on our about us page to find out who “we” are. We are so excited you found us and we look forward to meeting you during one of our workshops or through our other events/activities we are currently working on as we grow our supportive and nurturing women’s network.

We are constantly shaping our services and our community so we appreciate your feedback and any suggestions you have for future workshops, resources, services, etc. Please feel free to click on the contact link and share your thoughts.