Have you ever thought to yourself “I wish I could just be myself?” Where were you? At work? At home? At a party? Or maybe someone offered you the “Just be yourself and you’ll be fine” piece of advice ahead of a job interview, client pitch or first date?

I know I’ve said it to myself too many times, trying to bolster my courage and ignore the voice in my head saying “You gotta be kidding yourself, Sarae”. You, too?

What stops you from being your authentic self? That’s a big old question and worth of more than one article. It’s going to take all of this month’s in fact. So let’s dive in…..

Being authenticity is held up as a sort of ideal – a kinda of blissful nirvana of full aligned living, where every thought, feeling and action is as your whole authentic self. Yes, all things at all times.

Research tells us the opportunity to be authentic increases our wellbeing, physically and mentally. Our head, heart and body sync up positively with our authenticity. We sleep better, we think more clearly and we find our emotional agility increases. Oh and it’s essential for experiencing and creating more joy in our lives, work and relationships.

Authenticity is seen as one of the foundation stones to great relationships – romantic, work, friendship, parenting. You can fill a wall with books on the topic.

So if it’s so good for us, what stops you from being your authentic self?

Brené Brown said in her book, “Gifts of Imperfection” that “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” and that’s the first reason we avoid authenticity. We create a bunch of rules for who we should be, what we should feel, how we should act on top of the rules that our families, communities, workplaces and society hold up as appropriate or acceptable….or even “normal”.

Letting go of those rules can be hard. Really hard. Especially when we’ve experienced or seen others go against them or seek to change them with negative connotations. Judgement, rejection, shame, guilt, fear……and there is the second reason.

Being authentic can require us to deal with big emotions that are uncomfortable, super uncomfortable. Feeling the feels can be physically painful. It can stop us in our tracks. Make us question our logic, our clarity and our deepest sense of self.

We need to be willing and open to looking into those darker corners to reflect and learn as we feel our way forward. It requires us to find compassion towards ourselves – usually more than ever before – in order to keep moving towards greater authenticity.

Compassion to recognise and forgive our past. Compassion for our outcomes regardless of how they go. Compassion for the energy and efforts we need to find courage for what our lives, love and work can be when we’re authentic.  

And that last need for compassion links to the third reason we stop ourselves from being authentic. Courage can have lots of enemies. Self-doubt, self-belief, self-acceptance, self-awareness, self-hate, self-judgement, self-sabotage and self…….the list goes on.

Finding ways to remove, repair or reduce these enemies are the core of my own journey to greater authenticity and for many of my clients, as I suspect it might be for you.

Whether you tell yourself “to just be yourself” often or in one or two parts of your life, abundance joy is waiting for you when you can think, feel and be authentic across your whole life. 

Revealing your whole self brings more self-trust, confidence and a sense of spaciousness in how you achieve your intentions, meet your needs and honour your values. It brings new people and new opportunities your way that further your joy, wellbeing and vitality.

What would it take for you to start being your authentic self?