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Being Your Authentic Self

By Amy Austin, RN, PSY.D., LMFT

Do you ever wonder why it’s so much work to just be you? Do you even know who you are? Some complex questions can perhaps take a lifetime to explore, yet be simple at the same time.

Because of genetics and our environment, some of us have more trouble being comfortable in our own skin and listen far too often to that busy little voice in our heads that can be so condescending, judgmental, shaming, and downright nasty. Just for a moment, step outside of yourself to observe your life as if you were watching yourself on the big screen. Eckhart Tolle calls this “watching the watcher.” What do you see? How do you interact with others? How does watching your own life feel? If you’re not totally satisfied, here are a few concepts to consider to be more in tune with your authentic self.

  • When I speak about your authentic self, I’m talking about the real you, the genuine you, the you that is comfortable in your own skin and doesn’t have to work so hard with regards to emotional, family, marital, mental, occupational, relational, and any other aspect of functioning. Your authentic self is your core self, the person who is truly you, without struggle, chaos, question, or judgment.
  • If you have a relationship that doesn’t take much effort to maintain, then it’s probably easier for you to be your authentic self. This type of relationship has a genuine rapport, give and take, and there’s little conflict involved. These relationships are like diamonds. Why? Because when you’re with that person, your core self is reflected back to you. You can sigh with relief that someone understands you, hears you, and accepts you for who you are, as is, with no need to change to make them happy or fulfill their expectations.
  • If you are in a relationship where you find yourself being defensive or reactive, you’re probably having difficulty being you. It’s not a “take me as is or leave me” concept. If you are rationalizing, justifying, over-generalizing, minimizing, shaming, blaming, raging, using silence or sarcastic humor, (called “thinking errors” or “cognitive distortions”), it’s almost impossible to be authentically you. You’re so busy defending yourself, it becomes a game of who’s right or wrong and not about being in a healthy, reciprocal, adult relationship.
  • If your inner child is running the show, chances are you are not being genuinely you. It’s then time for your adult self to learn how to re-parent your inner child to help him or her feel safe, accepted, and valued. If you can learn how to be more in your adult self, authenticity will follow.

Being your authentic self is being your best self, your happiest self, and the person who is most in charge and at peace. It’s where being a human being is so much more important than being a human doing, fulfilling others’ expectations, and sacrificing your thoughts and feelings for those of another.

Dr. Amy Austin is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFC # 41252) and doctor of clinical psychology in Rancho Mirage. Dr. Amy can be reached at (760) 774.0047.

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