From your family to your career, this year make it a point to live your life as authentically as you can. HEALTH asks
Clinical Psychologist Dr. Tara Wyne what this really means.
At the heart of this term is truly knowing who you are and living according to your own values. It also includes having integrity in your life, whereby if you deem something very important to you, you make sure your actions reflect that, points out Dr. Wyne. “I believe living authentically necessitates self-reflection,” she says. “We need to examine who we are and what and who matters to us and then evaluate if we are living in alignment to what we hold dear.” We have to have enough connection with our own selves in order to be able to hear our inner voice and
listen to our intuition about what comprises the ‘good life’ for us.
SIGNS YOU ARE NOT LIVING AUTHENTICALLY
Not living authentically is sadly very common and an issue that causes widespread unhappiness and dissatisfaction in life. People can tell when they aren’t living authentically because you will see many telltale signs:
- A sense of emptiness and unhappiness.
- Looking at your life and wondering why you are doing what you are doing; a ‘how did I get here sensation?’
- Disappointment with what is and what has been achieved.
- A kind of numbness and neutrality – going through the motions kind of living.
- Feeling intense/ disproportionate emotions over trivial matters.
- Greatly reduced tolerance for normal mundane life stresses and strains.
- Always seeing the negative in your life.
- Making unfavorable comparisons to others, feeling the grass is always greener.
- Chasing material, relational, occupational, and financial goals, but being unable to relish or savor them when you achieve them, quickly moving on to the next achievement or acquisition.
- Loss of enjoyment or pleasure in previously valued areas of living.
- Constant searching and seeking for something or someone to fill you up.
- Feeling stuck and uninspired.
WHY IT MATTERS
According to Dr. Wyne, an authentic life is characterized by fulfillment, wanting what you have and gratitude for what you have. “The authentic or ‘good life’ as positive psychology describes it matters deeply to us because it determines whether we feel what we are doing is worthwhile and meaningful,” she tells, and if so, we are anchored by a ‘why’. We do things because they align with what matters to us in life, for example; taking care the self or others, being useful and contributing to greater wellbeing. People feel tremendous satisfaction and happiness when they feel they created value in their life or the life of others. People with a sense of meaning have direction, they don’t just
go through the motions, they knowingly select a course of action and can accept it going well or badly. They have more resilience in the face of challenges and hardship.
WAYS TO LIVE MORE AUTHENTICALLY
Make a list of your core values. Reflect on where the values came from, are they yours or do they belong to someone else or another time in your life?
- Check if the values you name reflect your identity and needs today.
- Spend some time reflecting on whether your values are being lived, ask someone close and trusted to give you feedback on whether they think your life reflects your values.
- Be truthful and trust your gut instinct/intuition. When you are in a dilemma about how to behave, the hunches we have often reflect the values we have internalized.
- Create a vision board which shows the ways in which you want to live your values and see them impact you and others.
- Journal regularly to allow you to acknowledge and express your truth.
- Be aware of your own shadow; everyone has light and shadow, knowing your parts helps you to know what is inside and be able to choose what to honor.
- Simplify your life and your time; it enables you to live more consciously.