Authenticity. It’s a word that gets tossed around quite a bit these days. (In fact, it’s in danger of becoming a bit of a cliché.) Sure, we all think we’re authentic in our words and actions. But are we really? Kathleen McIntire says that, consciously or not, most of us let the expectations of others drive the decisions we make every day—from the major we choose, to the kind of house we buy, to where we go on vacation, to whether we stay in and relax on Saturday night or go out and party.
“So many of us live out our lives as slaves to the tyranny of should,” notes McIntire, creator along with artist Erin Cote of Guiding Signs 101 (Soaring in Light, 2011, a set of powerful, yet fun road sign-inspired “intuition cards” that come with a guidebook that explains the meaning of each. “Year after year we strive to become what others—parents, partners, experts, society—tell us we should be. And then, one day, we wake up and realize we never got to let go and just be our real selves.”
The start of a fresh new year (okay…give or take a week or two) is the perfect time to resolve to live more authentically. Problem is, you may not be sure where to even begin. Heck, you may not be sure what an authentic life looks like! That’s why McIntire has put together some practical tips—52 of them, in fact—for “getting real” in various areas of your life.
“Each week, choose one suggestion from this list to focus on,” she suggests. “No need to tackle them in the order they’re listed or to do all of them. They’re just meant to get you thinking—and to get you started down the path to a more authentic life.”
YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF
We need to find the courage to say NO to the things and people that are not serving
us if we want to rediscover ourselves and live our lives with authenticity.
—Barbara de Angelis
• Come to terms with what really matters to you. Get comfortable with it. Maybe you’re okay with a smaller income and more free time. Maybe you’re okay with an extra 20 pounds. Never apologize for not “fitting in.” The minute you find yourself worrying about how others perceive you is the minute you abandon authenticity.
• Whatever you decide to do (or not to do), own your decision. If you find you can’t own it—if you feel wracked with guilt or compelled to hide the truth from those around you—it’s time to rethink what you’re doing.
• If in your journey to authenticity you decide a lifestyle change is needed, be realistic in your goal-setting. Let’s say you decide your diet, heavy in fats and processed foods, isn’t serving you well. If you know you aren’t going to grow an organic garden in your backyard, set a goal to prepare a body- and soul-nourishing meal (heavy on the veggies and supplemented with organically raised meat) two days a week at first. It’s best to take “baby steps” and plan to make more dramatic changes when you’re ready. In this way you’ll build the confidence you need to succeed.
• Break an unwritten “rule” made by others and reject any shame. Allowing others to shame us keeps us living on the treadmill and trying to fit in by doing it the “right way.” Authenticity is inner directed. Inauthenticity comes from caring what others think and letting the external dictate how you live.
• Ask yourself, What am I hiding? Make the choice to reveal something you’ve been fiercely protecting. Chip away at the armor by sharing a secret with a partner or a friend or maybe just your cat or your journal.
• It’s okay to do things for yourself. Honor your own needs. Sometimes we all need a massage or a new handbag or just a couple of hours alone while our spouse takes the kids to a movie.
• Give yourself permission to have feelings that you think you “shouldn’t” have. Should and shouldn’t have no place in an authentic life.
• Get real about money. Spending what you can’t afford to spend is another way of pretending to be who we aren’t. It’s also a disaster in the making!
• Take a break from the need to DO something. Simply BE. Simply show up as you are and love.
• Know when you’re at your best and when you’re not. (When you’re not, it’s almost always the perfect time for a bath or a nap!)
• Call a moratorium on victim talk. Authentic people don’t blame others. They recognize their own power and use it to create their own reality.
• Own your emotions. If you can’t help crying in confrontational situations, let the tears flow. If you’re devastated when a pet dies, accept condolences without apologizing or minimizing. You feel what you feel…let go of the label of being “too sensitive.”
• Each week, spend some time outside. When we disconnect from Nature, we disconnect from Source. We’re creatures of the Earth and it’s hard to thrive in an artificial world.
• Declutter a little (people and “stuff”). When you’re too busy trying to manage chaos, you can’t relax enough to even know who you are and what you need and want. (Do you really love Grandma’s china? If you don’t, give it to someone who does. Are you really going to fit into those size 8 jeans ever again? If not, get rid of them!)
• Give yourself a makeover. Do you dress in a way that truly expresses who you are? This question has nothing to do with what’s hot or stylish or what label is attached to your garments. It has everything to do with feeling comfortable in your own skin (and what’s covering it) instead of vaguely ill at ease or like you’re playing an expected role.
• Seize every opportunity to say, “I love you”—to yourself. Until we can fully love ourselves, we can’t fully love the others in our lives.
About the Author:
Kathleen McIntire is a transformational teacher, speaker, and healer who is dedicated to bringing forth truth, liberation, and awakening. She is the author and creator of Guiding Signs 101, a set of divination cards and guidebook using everyday road signs to tap into your intuition and own inner guidance.
She is the steward of MoonBear Sanctuary, located on 28 acres in Northern California. The retreat center located there provides cutting-edge workshops as well as ceremonies, study groups, and symposiums. Kathleen, whose focus is on restoring the feminine power, also leads sacred journeys with women. She has led journeys to the Andes and rainforest of Ecuador. Her next journey is to Guatemala; it will revolve around the 20-day Mayan Calendar.
Kathleen is the producer of two upcoming Mayan films. The first, Mayan Renaissance, is being made by PeaceJam, an international education program for youth built around leading Nobel Peace Laureates. The other film is The Unification of Wisdom and 2012. She is a presenter on the Womens Empowerment (WE) Channel on the CANDO Networks.
When she was younger Kathleen had a successful career in business. She has lived abroad and traveled extensively around the world. Kathleen’s website addresses are www.soaringinlight.com and www.guidingsigns101.com.
About Guiding Signs 101:
Guiding Signs 101(Soaring in Light, 2011, ISBN: 978-0-615-46500-5, $19.95) is available at bookstores nationwide and from all major online booksellers.