How to be an authentic person and stop looking for approval
I want to be my authentic self, is a common wish I hear from clients. But what does it actually mean?
The Oxford Dictionary defines authentic as 'not a copy; genuine.' To me, it means being yourself, and not an imitation of what you or others think you should be.
You are acting authentically when your behaviours match your beliefs and personality. It can be tricky, though to identify which are your beliefs, from those you may have picked up from your parents or partner.
In my younger years, I moulded my personality and beliefs to fit in with the people I cared about. This meant I traded my authentic self, to ensure I wasn't judged and I fitted in.
Unfortunately, this can lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety and shame, as well as the need for others to give you the love and approval you can't give yourself.
It wasn't until I had the courage to authentically speak up for my opinions and feelings that I stopped the constant search for validation.
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” - E.E. Cummings.
Being authentic requires courage, time and commitment, however, it is well worth the effort. Here are a few simple steps to help you:
- Identify your beliefs and values. These are your moral compass and guide you in the actions and decisions you make. You can identify them by thinking the about times you were really happy and times you were very low, and identify what yours and others behaviours were that meant you felt good or bad.
- Respect yourself. This sounds easy but can be difficult when other people disagree with your behaviour or opinions.
- Accept your weaknesses. If you can acknowledge and accept your flaws, it empowers you to be authentic.
- Have courage. Be bold enough to live your life according to what you believe is right, and not let fear stop you from doing the things you dream of.
- Focus on yourself in the present moment. This means you are less concerned about what others think, and it liberates you to be authentically you.
Imagine the empowerment and feeling of freedom, from truly being yourself and listening to what you need and want. From treating yourself with the respect and approval you deserve.
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