Your authentic self
Everyday you are influenced by the people around you, the people you meet, the places you go and the situations you are in.
The media you consume influences your habits, your purchases, your perception of others The relationships you have with others will influence your mood, emotions and reactions.
So when it comes to living “authentically”, it can be hard to separate who YOU are and what has been given to you by others.
But what if I told you that’s a good thing.
You are a product of every single thing around you, a mosaic of the world you live in. Puzzle pieces of information and data which have been downloaded and processed by your brain and stored into the files in your brain.
- limiting_beliefs.exe - judgments.jpeg
Finding who you are authentically, isn’t about becoming an island. It doesn’t have to come at a cost of your connections. Your authentic self is about the interdependencies you have between environment, nature, others and above all, your Self.
You’ve probably heard the saying “you are a sum total of the people around you” and it’s right, but it’s also about the environment you work in, the media you consume, the places you visit and the way you interact in those places and with those people.
You have the power to change your perception of the world at any given point. You have the power to change your perception of yourself. All you have to do is believe, however, to believe it you have to be able to see it. To see the evidence in action.
Now imagine this day with me:
It’s 7am, you’ve just woken up violently with your phone alarm hammering it’s urgency, waking you from a restless slumber. You stumble out of bed, into the bathroom and see your reflection in the mirror. Your first reaction is to visibly recoil from your reflection, regardless, you clean your face, brush your teeth and you get dressed with something you quickly grab from your drawers, not much thought put into it; it doesn’t matter, you’re only going to work.
You go downstairs, put the kettle on and see the pile of dishes from the night before, again you cringe, and decide to do them when you get in later. You pour yourself a coffee and rush out of the door, too busy for breakfast, you want to miss the traffic; it’s a nightmare in the mornings.
As you get into your car, the windows steam, delaying you further, you notice the fuel tank on low, again, you sigh and decide it’s a job for later on.
You get on the road, someone pulls into your lane without indicating, shouting into the void, you get frustrated. Do they not understand you are in a rush?
Parking up, you get into your office, noticing the air con is on high already and muttering to yourself that it’s too cold, how can people be so inconsiderate?
You sit at your desk, flick the screen on and the emails come rolling in. Again, you roll your eyes, breathe out an exasperated sigh and decide to make a coffee before you tackle the onslaught of attitude from your boss this morning, he obviously is out to get you sending emails at 11pm the night before.
In the kitchen you bump into a few of your colleagues, they’re having a conversation about what they’ve seen on the news, doom and gloom central. You join in on the conversation, you then stand for a few minutes complaining about the traffic, the school runs, how the weather is getting colder and the air con.
You get to lunch time, you forgot to make lunch so you nip to the shops, on the way you walk past an older couple walking slowly, you let out a growl and force your way past, you only have 30 minutes to grab lunch, eat it and get back to your desk! Walking into the shop, there’s not much choice so you grab one of the sandwiches left on display, not your favourite but it’ll do, a packet of crisps and a sugary drink from the fridge to get you through your afternoon meetings.
By mid afternoon, your energy is low and you don’t know why, so you decide it’s time for another coffee and in the kitchen you see the receptionist has topped up the biscuit stash, you grab 2 to boost you and get through the rest of the day. By 5pm, you’re done. Your eyes are sore, you stand up and your back hurts, you have a headache you can’t seem to shake and you’re ready for bed already!
You get through the nightmare evening traffic, wondering why there has to be so many cars on the road! Getting through your front door, you take off your shoes and plonk down on the sofa. Getting out your phone, you open instagram to switch off before you make dinner, shower and wind down.
Upon opening the app, you see an influencer showing off their “day in the life”, getting up at 5am, drinking water and eating vegetables...how unrealistic, you think. You scroll, past before and after photos from personal trainers, videos of 20 year old women in the gym working out in their short shorts, a man shouting about how sugar is bad for you, another shouting woman telling you that you should only eat fruit, another shouty person telling you about the dangers of the sun and then another telling you that you absolutely need the sunshine for vitamin d. You’re pulled from one post to another, a virtual whiplash of opinions and perceptions.
Eventually, you notice the time, an hour has passed and you’re more tired than ever. Getting into the kitchen you open the fridge, inside there are ingredients, vegetables, protein but nothing to eat right now, It’s too later and you’re too tired to think of a recipe, you can’t be bothered with cooking something and the headache from earlier is getting worse. You grab your phone again and order in, someone else can do the cooking for you. As you wait for your food, you go to shower, again walking past the mirror you look at your reflection and start to look at your belly, your legs, you pick apart the shape and size of them. Bringing your gaze up to your face, you think you look tired, old, you notice lines and bags under your eyes. Recoiling again from the image, you shower quickly, chuck on your comfy clothes and collect your takeaway from the door. Switching the tv on, the news comes on, story after story of tragedy, crime and inequality, you have the thought that the world is unfair, unjust and it’s always one thing after another.
Finishing up, you put the dish on the sink next to the unwashed plates from the night before, still too tired to tackle them you decide you’ll get up early and do them tomorrow morning. Stumble to bed, and get your phone out before sleeping to set your alarm. You scroll through social media again, watching your friends stories about their holidays and achievements, wondering to yourself how they got so lucky, some people just have things land in their lap!
Another hour slips away and eventually you turn off the lights, as soon as the bedroom light turns off, the brain light switches on, reminding you off all you didn’t achieve today, how your body doesn’t look or feel how you want it to, how annoying your boss and co-workers were today and how you have to do it all again tomorrow. Tired, stressed, achey you drift off into another restless slumber.
Now back to the present day, think about how that visualisation felt. Did it feel heavy, sticky, tired? Did you notice any positive thoughts, open-mindedness or energy? Where in your body did you notice most of the emotions hiding?
Now imagine this day:
You wake up gently, your alarm waking you up steadily and looking at your clock you see its 6am. Stretching you get out of bed, hop into the shower and start to get ready for work. Looking at your reflection, you put on your moisturiser, noticing the skin looking bright, smiling at your reflection and then head downstairs.
You put the kettle on, open the fridge and get the breakfast oats you prepared the night before and the lunch you prepped, popping it in your bag with some snacks. You take a clean coffee cup and make a coffee, knowing that this sets you up for the day.
Heading to work, you put on music, drink your coffee and take your time. Thinking only of the drive.
Entering the office, you say hello to the cleaner, the receptionist, take a seat at your desk and switch on your scree. Taking your oats out of your bag, you eat breakfast and then set your to-do list for the rest of the day.
You go to make a coffee in the kitchen, saying hello to your co-workers in there and you notice them talking about the news, the weather, complaining about their families and the day ahead. You smile, walk back to your desk and decide not to enter into the conversation today as you’re in a good mood.
You get called to meetings, work through the list, and even though you have moments that are frustrating and stressful, you take the time at lunch to walk away from your desk and eat your lunch. Taking a moment to breathe, re-centre and come back refreshed. You decide the tone of voice in your bosses email maybe isn’t an attack, thinking maybe they were in a rush or they themselves could have been having a bad day.
The rest of the afternoon rolls by, you don’t crash in the afternoon as you stayed hydrated, had a balanced lunch and snacks to keep you fueled all day.
On the way home, you pull up to the gym to do a workout before you get home and settle in. A quick 45 minutes and you are ready to chill.
You get home, shower, get comfy and then make dinner. You planned meals at the start of the week, so you know you have the ingredients for meals, however, after a tiring day you want to eat something quick and easy to prepare. You have meals frozen in the freezer, so you take one, reheat it and settle in front of the tv.
After an hour, you head into the kitchen, quickly wash the pots which only takes a couple of minutes.
Heading up to bed you do your nightly routine,noticing your reflection in the mirror you are grateful for your strong shoulders and notice how you look healthy. You sit in bed with the lights on and open up your notebook to journal your thoughts for the day, brain dump anything which came up and whatever lingering jobs are playing on your mind, You know that by writing it down, you won’t forget, so there’s no need to think about it all night.
Switching the lights off, you breathe in and out. Grateful for having a roof over your head, a job that challenges you and food in your belly. Despite the traffic, the stress and the challenges of the day, you know you did your best and enter into sleep knowing that whatever happened, you can always try again tomorrow.
Now I want you to take a second to tunw into how your body feels after visualising that scenario. Do you feel heavy, light? Do you have a more positive outlook on life? Compare the days, seeing how the foundation of the day didn’t differ too much.
You still got up, went to work, had meetings, drove home and ate dinner. Notice how the day to day routine differs in ways, wheres small tweaks to having breakfast, lunch, and going to the gym changed the energy of the day. See how having moments to reflect and change reactions ensured that your mindset stayed positive or at least, neutral. Notice how other peoples energy and conversations had an effect on your day.
Now think about how many times in your day you are influenced by situations out of your control, where the only think you can control is your reaction to it.
Think about how certain conversations, messages, emails and other encounters can shift your mood and attitude.
Think about how many times a day you notice you contributing to a negative mindset or self talk
There are so many moments in our days and lives that we have the ability to shift the energy. To either enter into a mentality of lack, negativity or complaining. We have moments where we have judgements, and emotional reactions.
You have a choice. Your instant reaction is your conditioned response. A response dictated by our upbringing, society and by our experiences. The puzzle pieces you have collected, stored and filed.
The second thought you have is your higher self. Your re-condtioned response. Your authentic self. The self that is more open, more understanding. The self that understands other perspectives, other ways to react and understand. The self that is forgiving and asserts boundaries. More puzzle pieces you have collected, stored and filed.
No-one is a saint, and no-one is perfect. You will have moments of anger, of frustration, of fear, shame and guilt. However, the difference between someone who stays in that emotion and someone who evolves through that is the self-development and inner work you put in.
You can choose to stay in that icky feeling, in the guilt shame loop or the frustration, letting it leak out into every part of your day, OR, you can let yourself feel that feeling, take a breath and observe the second thought after it. Observe the second emotion, the next reaction and decision.
YOU have the power to switch up these experiences everyday, coming from your authentic, evolved self. You choose which file in your drawer to load at any given point in your day.
Will it be the lashoutfile.doc or the breatheandcountto10.exe? Will it be the bitchaboutboss.pdf or the empathicresponse.doc? Will it be the letitruinmyday.exe or the breatheandletitgo.fle?
Your “authentic self” is continually a work in progress. You and your brain are a constant lesson, you have triggers and glimmers, reactions and responses, choices and chances.
The key is to observe yourself, learn about you, learn what files you carry from others and what files you have created all by yourself. Learn about what you were conditioned to believe, and what you have evolved and learned to believe.
Changing small things in your day, tweaking your perspectives and becoming a more authentic puzzle piece. So that the puzzle pieces and files that you send to others, may help them to understand their own lives.