Jumping off a cliff in a waterfall in Mexico? Done. Moving to live in a different country? Check. Hot lap on a race track. Also done. Some call me brave for doing those things. But you know when I felt truly brave in my life? When I spoke up during a work meeting calling out a colleague when he made rude and sexist comments.Or when I decided not to have my wedding in a church in spite of my family’s deep catholic roots. Or when I decided to pursue my meditation and Ayurveda certifications when some people around me consider these practices “woo woo”.
If there is something I’ve learned about being brave, is that being truly brave means honoring myself. Behaving and making choices according to what I believe in. It requires radical honesty, vulnerability, and a willingness to face my own fears in order to live authentically.
Being true to ourselves means making choices that lift us up regardless of other’s expectations. It means expressing our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and values. It involves a deep understanding and acceptance of our own identity, including strengths, weaknesses, and limitations.
This is not an easy thing. We must be honest about our emotions, fears, and desires, even when they are difficult to confront. This requires a willingness to be vulnerable and to take ownership of our own experiences even when the results of our actions (or lack of action) had an undesirable outcome.
All of this requires a level of introspection and awareness.
Living authentically could be scary, mostly when that means going against societal norms or people’s expectations. But you know what’s even scarier? Being stuck because we’re afraid of what others will say. Not taking action because we are scared of failure. Making a choice to avoid disappointed others when in reality we are disappointing ourselves for not following our true desires.
Being authentic takes guts. Often times realizing that we have been lying to ourselves or that we need to make decisions that will take us out of our comfort zones is the scariest and toughest part.
The first thing we need to do to live an authentic life is develop self-awareness. Constantly checking-in with ourselves, acknowledge our feelings and desires. For me, that’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve received from incorporating meditation as part of my life. I am able to achieve quieter states of mind, being able to observe and select my thoughts and be in touch with what I am feeling. I allow myself to feel the feelings that we often label as “negative” such as anger, sadness, worry, anxiety and recognize them as a pointer that something is not right. During meditation I also often myself one of the 4 soul questions: “What do I truly want?” and allow answers to come to me when I feel connected with my true self.
Finding or building a community that helps you bring the best in you is another great way to stay true to yourself. People around you can have a big influence in you and while often you can’t pick and choose every single people in your life, you can certainly be selective about the people you decide to share your plans, fears and learnings with.
Ultimately, being true to oneself is about living an authentic and meaningful life that is guided by our own values and desires. It means recognizing when we messed up and allowing ourselves to course correct.When that happens, don’t forget to be kind towards yourself. Having the bravery to be true to yourself is the ultimate act of self-love.