How to Be Authentically You in Any SituationBy Homaira Kabir
We all know that feeling of waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Grumpy and irritable, we lumber through the day, getting needlessly upset over the smallest of things. We know that we're out of sorts and feel a strange sense of chaos within ourselves.
Could it be that we are simply not being authentic? And then there's that feeling of going after something we think we desperately need, like the latest "everything" gadget or the L.L. Bean boots that everyone seems to possess, and experiencing only momentary pleasure when we get it. We wish we could hold on to the fleeting joy but it evaporates surprisingly soon. Could it be that, again, we haven't really listened to our authentic self?
A few of us develop a consistent and predictable machinery of the self pretty early on in life. Those people understand not only when we deviate from it, but have an internal system in place that rapidly guides us back to a place of equanimity. They also know the fruitless chase of mistaken direction and live lives of stability and clear purpose.
But most of us are more malleable and thus more vulnerable to the unexpected twists and turns of life. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. The ability to step out of our default state allows us to enter the lives of others with greater empathy and compassion. We can let go of a singular view of the world and a rigid sense of the self and are able to open ourselves up to greater creativity and inspiration, all of which are multiple expressions of the self.
The problem arises when this flexibility is not grounded in a strong sense of self. Unless our ideas of who we are and our aspirations for who we want to become are coherent, we experience unease and fear, and begin to feel lost in the web of life.
So here are four essentials of living authentically, in the sweet spot between rigidity and chaos.
Dig Deep for Those Natural Resources
We are all born with an innate set of character strengths, some of which come more naturally to us than others. Some of us may be readily inclined to seek out adventure, others may find that kindness and empathy comes naturally to them while still others may be born leaders. Research shows that knowing and using our top strengths makes us feel authentic and provides us with a sense of fulfillment. It also connects us to our passions and gets us into moments of flow.
Connect to Your Guiding Light
We are shaped by our environment more than we are often aware, especially when we're young. The values that we form through our early interactions become our moral compass and guiding light. They're so essential to our well-being that we have an internal warning system that alerts us when we act in ways that are contrary to this moral code. We feel guilt, shame, and perhaps even anger at ourselves that reminds us to correct our behavior. Being aware of