Why Be Authentic?
Being authentic allows us to be ourselves, to accept ourselves just as we are – imperfect and ever changing. Ironically, this mindset also allows us to identify how we want to develop ourselves personally and professionally. Being authentic helps us to develop the life skills to live our passions more freely and effortlessly.
Why do so few of us spend time exploring personal growth? It’s a very important question. I believe it has a lot to do with external forces — those pressures we place on ourselves and society places upon us. Earlier I said that sometimes we all experience a “Life Happens” mindset. Sometimes life gets so busy, we don’t spend time sitting, reflecting and evaluating what we want and value. Most of us have a plan for our lives, but we get sidetracked be- cause of decisions we make and the many pressures of life.
Let’s use Cindy’s story to illustrate my point. Cindy is 26 years old. She and her two preschool-aged children share an apartment with Cindy’s friend Kim. When Cindy was 20 she married Steve. The couple had dreams of someday buying a house and raising a family. Cindy took the necessary training to become a nurse’s aide. She really wanted to become a registered nurse but didn’t have the money or time for college, so becoming an aide was a great place to start. Things were okay for a few years until Steve lost his job. Cindy was expecting their second child. Although they loved their children, they both agreed that being parents was a lot tougher than they had expected. Financial pressures grew and their relationship felt the strain. Cindy took on a second job to help pay the bills. Steve eventu- ally found a job but wasn’t happy. Still struggling, Cindy and Steve drifted apart and eventually divorced. As a sin- gle mom with two young children and bills to pay, Cindy’s dream of becoming a nurse has been shattered, and she is feeling a very real sense of “Life Happens.”
Cindy’s story illustrates how difficult life can be and the role that external pressures can play in shaping our perspective and our decisions. Although specific details may be different, the external pressures Cindy and Steve felt are universal. Financial and relationship pressures can make people feel they have lost control over their lives, leaving them feeling frustrated, angry, depressed and hopeless.
How would discovering her authentic self change Cindy’s difficult situation? How could the principle of insight, along with strengths, aptitudes, values, beliefs and mission statement, make a positive impact on her day-to-day exist- ence?
The Road to Happiness
To illustrate I’ll use the following metaphor — life is a road. Let’s call it “The Road to Happiness.”
We all set out to travel the same road in life,“The Road to Happiness.” As we travel, however, we often find ourselves getting detoured ─ “Life Happens” and we find ourselves at a fork in the road which offers us two options. One fork puts us on“Victim Lane,” leading us away from the Road to Happiness. Victim Lane represents the places we find ourselves in life where we deal with things we feel powerless to overcome, such as the loss of a job or loved one, addictions, etc. None of us set out to travel Victim Lane, but the Road to Happiness gets busy and confusing and we are faced with detours along the way.
The other option we have when faced with a “Life Happens” detour is to consciously navigate back to the Road to Happiness. We can choose to adjust our route and reenter the Road to Happiness, but it takes awareness of our detour and conscious action to get back on track.
This example suggests that we can work through difficult situations in life, stop feeling like a helpless victim and get back on the Road to Happiness by assessing the situation and determining what adjustments we need to make. Assessingthesituationinthisexampleinvolveslookingat who you really are and what you really want your life to be about – that is, answering the question “what route does my Road to Happiness take?”
I think this is an effective metaphor. It speaks directly to what we all face every day in life.We know where we want to go; we start on the right road. But all too often, life happens, and we get sidetracked, heading down a dead-end lane.
So, that's a short excerpt from my book.... I do hope you enjoy it. Please comment at will, I love the fact that this can be a place where folks with opinions can share!
Until next time, be well!