I see it often in my therapy office: people being negatively influenced by their ideas about what other people think of them. A common struggle we all face is allowing others’ expectations to influence how we live our lives and how we feel about ourselves. We all want to feel accepted, so it is common for us to conform to outside expectations in order to fit in. We can become so concerned with rising to these expectations that we end up shrinking parts of ourselves and, in turn, compromising our happiness.
If you are making choices that are based on what others want or think you are probably not living your most authentic life. When you seek validation from others by living your life in a way that is not true to yourself you are allowing the fear of rejection to control aspects of your life. As this progresses, you might start to notice that much of your decisions, and even your life, are driven by fear rather than rooted in love and authenticity.
The good news is that letting go of fear and living more authentically is possible. You can take steps to start living an authentic life and be true to yourself which will bolster your happiness. You can free yourself from the limitations of conforming and instead, choose what is truly right for you.
Check out some quick and easy tips you can use to start living your most authentic life:
Tip #1: Start living mindfully.
Mindfulness means to develop an awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. The most important element of mindfulness is to acknowledge and accept your experience without judging and trying to change it. One important step in mindfulness is accepting where you are in the moment. By developing more awareness and acceptance of yourself it helps you to understand better what you actually want and need. After all, you have to know what living authentically would mean for you before you can start actually living that way. A consistent mindfulness practice will help get you there.
Tip #2: Allow your mindfulness practice to help guide you toward authenticity.
The more you practice mindfulness the more clarity you will have in getting to know your true self. Allowing yourself the freedom to be and do the things that deeply resonate with you will allow you to better understand your true self. This gives you the opportunity to find interests that bring you joy, friendships that uplift you, and life choices that feel consistent with your values .
Ask yourself, “When do I feel most alive?” “When am I free?” “When am I happiest?” The answers to these questions will start to free yourself from the limitations or expectations that do not serve you.
Tip #3: Practice unconditional love for yourself.
Unconditional self-love is tender, compassionate, and kind. It comes from within, just as happiness does. External validation is healthy only if it is reassuring because you already know your worth.
If loving yourself doesn’t yet feel possible, strive for self-respect first. It may be helpful for you to come up with a mantra that resonates with you to bring you comfort when you are finding it difficult to love yourself. Some examples might include: “I am doing the best I can with what I have”, “I am worthy of self-respect”, or “I am a work in progress.”
It can be difficult to choose you, your needs, and wants when others' expectations weigh so heavily. It is important to remember though… this is YOUR life, not anyone else’s and you are the only one that can live authentically for you. You have the right to live your life being true to yourself, because you are enough just as you are. So why not start creating the life you desire? Living your most authentic life is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.