How to Be Your Beautiful, Wonderful, and Authentic Self

authenticity whole-hearted living Dec 02, 2019

This article was originally published on


It’s a foreign concept to many… the idea of being yourself. “Isn’t everything I do ‘myself’ if I am the one doing it?” you might think. “Isn’t everything I say ‘myself’ if I am the one saying it?”, and “Isn’t every thought I think a reflection of myself? Surely, it must be, if I am the one thinking it.” If you grew up in a world where you were uninfluenced by the people, events, and ideas around you, that would certainly be the case. However, it’s likely that you grew up with one or two people you called ‘mom’ or ‘dad’ (or some variation of these names) who had dreams for you and expectations of you, and millions more who in direct or indirect, spoken or unspoken, ways told you what you should think, feel, look like, value, and aspire to be.


All that’s to say that being you, though many would assume to be an intuitive process, actually isn’t. In the world we live in, being you needs to be a conscious, ongoing pursuit. It’s an incredibly fruitful and worthwhile endeavor that allows you to live more freely and fully, and it requires that you stop doing certain things and that you intentionally start doing others. So here they are– the things you must stop doing and those you must start doing if you are to simply, fully, and honestly be you.






I can’t tell you how many women I’ve come across in my personal and professional life who regularly apologize for who they are, blurting out an “I’m sorry” for talking too much, for not talking enough, for being too sensitive or not sensitive enough, for being too much or simply not enough, and on and on. Most don’t even know they are doing it. Heck, I didn’t know I was doing it– until I started to pay attention to how I felt right before I did it. Not surprisingly, I felt unworthy, not good enough, and very small. Go figure– I was apologizing for my existence. “I’m sorry for being myself, everyone,” I would essentially say. “I’m sorry that myself is not good enough or not similar enough to you...” Every time you apologize for who you are, you are in essence saying “there is something wrong with the way I am”, “it is an inconvenience to the people around me”, and “I must change or improve,” and this is the very impetus that drives us to be anything but what we are. Apologies should be reserved for those moments when you do something you didn’t mean to or when someone gets hurt as a function of your words or actions, not for those moments when you are simply being yourself.




Social comparison– the act of comparing yourself to others– is the thief of joy. It robs you of your ability to recognize what’s real, what’s important, and what counts. And it robs you of the ability to appreciate, accept, value, and be yourself. If we really think about it, it’s not the act of comparing in and of itself that’s to blame. After all, it’s the tendency of our mind to make judgments or evaluations of people, events, and things relative to other people, events, and things. Rather, it’s the fact that when we compare ourselves, we tend to compare to those who we think are better than us (like that “friend” on Facebook who you haven’t seen in 10 years but who appears to have the handsomest husband, a home whose size is measured in acres rather than square feet, a figure that hasn’t aged a bit, and the most well-behaved kids). Notice that I said those who we think are better than us, not those who are better than us. And not only that, but we resort to unreasonable and unrealistic reference points, comparing our wardrobe, wallet, and leisure time activities to those of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. What happens when we resort to these unrealistic, unreasonable, and often unfavorable comparisons is that we reinforce the idea of a norm to aspire to and deny ourselves the freedom of self-expression.




What would happen if you became consistently more concerned with how happy you are rather than ensuring that everyone else around you is happy? The moment you stop people pleasing is the moment that you will stop living someone else’s dreams, needs, wants, and life and start living your own. Picture a voltage meter– except rather than measuring voltage, this meter measures freedom. Every time you follow the wishes of another person without first checking in with your own, the red pointer on your freedom meter swings all the way over to the 0 point on the left. Every time you feel like saying no but say yes instead, again the gauge on your freedom meter bounces all the way to the left. Every time you subdue, deter, or put your personal desires on hold so that someone else can advance in theirs, guess what? The gauge once more swings to the left. Dimming your light to make others feel more comfortable is simply not an option if your goal is to live a life that honors who you came here to be and that allows you to contribute to others fully and freely. People pleasing takes away your freedom and it hides the real you.







Take the time to self-reflect, ask questions, and understand what matters to you. The edge between ‘what matters to me’ and ‘what matters to everyone around me’ is often a blurry one, and that’s why nothing can replace the process of self-inquiry and self-reflection. It’s how you learn about what your true desires are, what your indisputable needs are, and what, of all things, makes you tick. By looking at yourself with eyes of curiosity and engaging in periodic self-reflection, you will not only be aware of, but also confident in, your personal values, what is important to you at your core, and how you really want to live – even if no one else sees or agrees with it!


Deep inside, you’ve always known who you are. It’s just a matter of bringing conscious awareness to the qualities, preferences, and passions that make you beautifully, unique, radiant you. No one can write the book of How to be [insert your name here]. Only you can do that. And you do it every time you choose to act in accordance with your own wants and needs, and every time you notice that you haven’t and promise yourself to choose differently the next time. When you know who you are, it’s much easier to be who you are.




Oftentimes, it’s the fear of being seen that keeps us hidden. It’s the fear of ‘what will happen and how will others respond if I show up as myself?’ that keeps us showing up as everybody but ourselves. It’s a fear based in the experiences of our upbringing, the influence of our schooling, and the conditioning of our society. Most of us were never taught that it was okay to be ourselves, so we weren’t. Day after day, month after month, year after year we show up as a clouded, morphed version of ourselves, wishing for the day that we can just be ourselves. Yet the interesting thing about being accepted, respected, and valued for who you are is that in order for that to happen, you’ve got to be who you are first. The only way that someone who is in your life can possibly accept you for who you are is if you reveal to them– through your words, actions, and energy– who you really are… if you share with them your wants, needs, curiosities, troubles, and triumphs. So go on, expose yourself, bit by bit by bit. Share your story, share your struggles, share it all. Because nothing prohibits our freedom in being who we are quite like fear and shame. Every time we share a little bit more of who we *really* are, we nip shame and fear in the bud.




In between knowing who you are and being that person is a willingness to stay open, no matter what is going on. If your body gets noticeably uncomfortable every time you encounter a certain person who it’s hard to be yourself around, next time try to stay open. If your tendency is to say yes when all you want to do is say no every time you hear a request from that person, try to stay open and lean into the discomfort of saying no. If every time you’re mingling in a large group, you do that thing you do to fit in socially even though it’s not really you, see if you can stay open and do nothing instead. If you usually contract and judge yourself harshly when you even consider pursuing that atypical career, love, or life path, next time see if you can acknowledge your desires and try not to judge yourself.


Some well-intentioned coaches, authors, and speakers will tell you “Who cares what anyone else thinks? Just do you and don’t care whether they like it or not.” The problem with a motivational mantra like this is that while its intention is a good one (that is, to focus on and do what rings true to you rather than on what others will you to do), it fails to acknowledge the very real– and also true to you– experience of wanting to belong. That’s where staying open comes in. In any moment, you can stay open as you acknowledge your deep desire to live a life that is true to you and your deep desire to belong (two very basic human desires which research suggests, in all likelihood, have been with you since day one). You can stay open as you recognize the complexity of wanting to be an individual, yet also wanting to be “part of the clan.” And you can stay open as you revel in the fact that there exists a point where the two desires intersect– a meeting point where you can simultaneously be original and universal, and where you can intentionally be genuinely yourself while also being part of, and shaped by, the crowd.




Do you remember the whole bit about not apologizing for who you are anymore? Well, it turns out that what we’re really doing in those moments that we apologize for being who we are is trying to take back what we did, said, or thought in fear that it might lead us to being rejected, excluded, or criticized. It’s a deep desire couched in an often palpable fear. And an apology is one way to bring life to that desire, but so is appreciation. So why not say “Thank you for listening to everything I had to say” instead of apologizing for having lots of opinions to share. Why not say thank you to yourself for feeling emotion so beautifully and strongly as you do instead of apologizing for being too sensitive? And why not replace the apology of being too much with appreciation for being just right? When you switch from “I’m sorry” to “thank you”, you will stop seeing your inherent qualities as mistakes and burdens that need to be fixed and start seeing them, and you, as a blessing.


There is no better way to learn to be you than to go and be you. So do it. Commit to being unapologetically you. Commit to venturing inside, to seeing what’s real and true, and to acting on it. To be you, you’ve got to practice being you.


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