What does it mean 'to be real'?
Over the last few years 'authenticity' has been a real buzzword, from personal development and relationships to business, marketing and even social media. While many of us are familiar with seeking an authentic travel experience or visiting an authentic local shop, we may not really know what it means to live authentically or 'to be real'.
Authenticity offers a comfortable place from which to run your life, as there's no need to pretend or cover up. It's about operating and existing from a point of strength and being 100% sure of your ground. It's also about not trying too hard.
Sometimes, people may not agree with your views but they will value, trust and respect you and your opinions because they appreciate that what you say and do is truly what you mean - rather than a sham. Having a point of view is vital to authenticity and this helps others to know where you stand and where they stand. Authenticity means being genuine, sharing your passions and ideas but, equally, being open and willing to engage in alternative points of view and taking the time to listen and to understand.
Being authentic is an attractive proposition - it generates respect and trust from others and is a key component of great leadership. When people believe in themselves and are true to those beliefs and values, others are naturally drawn to them and, in turn, believe in their message and follow their guidance.
When asked about power, Oprah Winfrey explained: "The truth is there is no power without authentic power and one of the reasons I appear to be so successful is because I understand the principle of authentic power."
Have you ever been in a situation, relationship or a job that just didn't feel right? Often, that's the feeling we get when we are being inauthentic - or acting in ways that aren’t compatible with our values, beliefs and abilities. We feel out-of-sync, even if things on the surface appear to be ideal.
The more virtual life becomes, the more we hanker after something real and genuine. More and more of us operate online, via multiple-choice switchboards with automated voices and through screen-based check-ins for appointments. As the human element disappears from many of our daily tasks, what people really want more of is not just a product or a service, it’s an experience. Something that is honest, transparent and real. There's even more reason than ever to make sure that, when we do engage one to one, it's real and meaningful.
Living authentically is about being genuine, real and true to yourself. It's not doing what your parents or society wants or what you think you should do. Self-awareness is pivotal and when you embrace this knowledge, decisions become easier because you are free to choose things that are closer to your values.
While authenticity may sometimes mean making unpopular decisions or revealing parts of you that you'd rather hide, in the end, it allows you to lead a more open, happier and fulfilled life.
Are you living authentically? Here are five things to try on the road to being real:
1. Find out who you are
What do you like about yourself and what do you enjoy doing? Who do you like spending time with and what really lights up your world? Once you've captured all of this, ideally in words or pictures, spend some time being with that and see what it feels like to become that person.
Creative journaling and creative visualisation are both powerful techniques that can help you to explore and express your feelings and use the power of your mind to create more of what you want in your life. As such, they are perfect for this activity.
2. Align heart and actions
Which direction is life taking you? Is it aligned with your dreams and aspirations, which come from the heart? Or are you following a completely different path?
It's not always easy to achieve congruence and sometimes you need to take small steps in that direction. But it can be amazing how things tend to fall into place once you make a start.
3. Let go of the past
The past is just that - learn from it, move forward and practice being mindful. It's a great place to be with a host of benefits that can enhance your well-being and improve your future.
4. Think for yourself and believe in yourself
Often, when you start to make positive changes, for yourself, it doesn't necessarily work for everyone else. Sometimes jealousy and envy come into play or perhaps people disagree because of practical reasons. Stand firm and remain true to yourself - after all, this is your life, not somebody else's.
5. Be you
Once you've really discovered who you are, accept yourself. Let go of comparing yourself to others and learn to love the real you.