What does “living with authenticity” mean to you? What does it feel like? It might be easier to describe what NOT living authentically feels like. For example, when what you truly believe is stuffed down inside, when you’re really unhappy at work, when you have a bad gut feeling when you hang out with certain people but you continue to do so. How about when you start resenting your partner for not “letting” you do certain things, or you feel like you “should” be doing things with your life but you just can’t get started on them? You believe things should be different, but you don’t know how to get the life you’re living in line with the one that you see in your head.
There’s good news: it’s never too late to start living authentically. It starts with small changes, tiny, even. Make a list of three things you want to incorporate more of in your life, things that you feel would be more in line with your authentic self. Work on one small change at a time. The smallest tweak in your normal routine can bring about big change down the road.
Here’s an example of a making a small change. I’ve decided I want to watch less TV. My husband and I default to watching TV in the evening for a few hours to wind down at the end of the day. Even as I’m watching, these thoughts run through my head, “This is a waste of time.” “I should be doing something more productive.” “This is filling my head with junk.” I typically just push off those thoughts and give in anyway. And, the next day, I let the same routine happen.
To change my TV habits, I’m not going to start by declaring that I refuse to watch TV at night altogether and demand that my husband agree to do the same. Instead, I decide that during the time the TV is on, I’ll get up every 15 or 20 minutes and go to the kitchen to do a bit of cleaning, or leave the room to do some writing or reading, or be sure I have the laundry finished. I just want to tweak my current habit so that the grip of the habit loosens. Then I can evaluate how I feel and whether or not my choice is bringing me into alignment with how I want to be spending my time.
As I start to implement this one change, I feel good! I start to understand that there was a reason for those pestering thoughts and feelings that I’m wasting time with TV. I can now consciously make a decision to watch a program when I want that entertainment but I don’t have to feel like I’m just whiling away minutes glued to the tube without a choice. I start to recognize a good feeling inside, like I’m moving closer to own authenticity. It’s a small change, but it’s making a big impact.
I can’t change the past. I can’t get back the hours I spent watching TV over the years. I can recognize that it doesn’t fit into how I see myself spending time today or going forward and take steps towards changing that habit.
We wouldn’t be where we are now without the experiences that brought us to this very moment. We CAN make choices and changes that will alter the trajectory of our future. We CAN pick the ending of our story and work towards it. You can begin living your authentic life today, and I encourage you to do it!