This article is being written to inspire people to have the courage to face who we all are and live a happy and fulfilling life. We all spend years trying to fit in to whatever groups, jobs, families and struggle to be who we are for fear of rejection of others. We spend endless hours at jobs trying to be accepted and validated. We spend years in relationships that don't serve us hoping that we can be deemed valuable.
These steps outlined here are the truth, as I know them. I can truly tell you, the journey to authenticity isn’t an easy one, because I have had to look at myself at my core and face my harsh realities about myself. That I am imperfect and I have scars that have affected me my entire life and they are who I am. I have had to come realize that I can’t please everyone and accepting what comes with that harsh reality isn’t fun to begin with, but it is essential to living a great life.
All of our deepest fears have to do with worthiness. Fear of being accepted, intimate, connection, love, acceptance and validated. I know I have spent a lifetime being rejected and constantly trying to understand why and “fix” that, instead of embracing who I am and being comfortable in my skin.
I hope you enjoy this article and that it inspires you to be YOU.
1. Know yourself. This sounds so simple and yet I believe it the most complex piece to happiness and the most profound piece of our self that we must embrace and know in order to grow into who we are. It’s this intimate knowledge and acceptance and love of our self! It can feel selfish or un natural to love yourself, but truly loving yourself by taking care of your mind, body and spirit is not just a cliché. It means that to come into balance with our total being and thriving in this space, can manifest into so much beauty in our lives. I believe that we are incapable of truly loving someone else if we don’t have the ability to love ourselves. Love is not an emotion. It is action. It is taking and embracing our whole being. I believe spending time with you is essential as well. So many people are afraid of silence and quietness, and yet the most profound love and change happens when we are quiet and can hear the whispers of our souls. The world around us is very quick to judge and criticize something about each one of us. You will hear more in a bit about this topic of other noise.
2. Ignore Criticisms. I bet each and every one of us has stories to tell about people who provide unsolicited opinions about you, who you are, how you speak, how you look, how you think, what they feel you should do, blah blah blah. For many years, I kept trying to adjust whom I was to make other people feel comfortable to the point that I couldn’t hear my own voice anymore. I have become somewhat combative when I get opinions that don’t align with my true self and I have come to realize that I just need to ignore them. Sometimes it has left me in meetings nodding affirmatively so that I can please them, but inside of me, this fire was burning to burst out of my skin and be myself.
3. Faith filled. Many of us have different faiths. I am not here to judge or criticize anyone’s choice of Faith. I believe in Jesus Christ. And without having grounded myself the last few years in his Word and his Love, I couldn’t have made it. I have always known that I am not “of the world” per se. I don’t enjoy a lot of the things many people do. I believe in living a life of goodness and giving. It has exhausted me to be this person many times, but I stand to my core of living for other people and to serve. I believe serving people is an honor and blessing. It is effortless for me to do for others. It is easy for me to give and I am slow to take, which I find to be the polar opposite of many of my human encounters. I am not speaking of old school religion, so I want to be clear about that. I am speaking of relationship with a greater being. A Faith that the best yet to come. That I am loved and I am a child of God. That he created me in his image and he is happy with who I am. And his approval is all I need. Recognizing and staying in prayer with God has allowed me to hear him speak to me, as a whisper. I can hear when I need to adjust my behavior or something I need to do for myself. I have come to accept this. My failures and painful experiences in life have been when I have gone against what I knew to be true. That has caused me undue burden. And I also lived in the “desert” to grow into the person I am becoming. I say that our lives are all under constant construction and so He builds in me too.
4. Desire to Grow. Staying stuck in the same ways and the same thinking leads to the same misery. Many times, things or your opinion are unpopular and that forces many people into conformity. There are tons of folks out there who believe they know everything, but they stay stuck in their same ways. They are quick to judge and will tell you they’re open minded and listen, but just pay attention to their patterns. I have found those folks to be unhappy souls. They don’t know why their life is a certain way and they are unwilling to look in the mirror. And grow. Learn to ask questions. Seek to understand something different. Be slow to condemn. I’m not saying you have to agree. Sometimes when we ask a question and we hear an answer we don’t like, we are quick to dismiss it. But then it wears on your heart a bit and you wonder why you have reacted that way inside. Is there a message that is being conveyed to you? Do you have to pivot? Frankly, my personal growth has come through my faith and listening to my pastor teach me. I have a desire to know more of God and to be happy and faithful. And in seeking love, I become love. And when I become love, I give love. And when I give love, I am whole.
5. Be present. I can’t state this enough. In the digital age when I am out for a run and I see people walking their dogs while texting, or at the store and kids are out of control while texting, or creating the image that you are so important and can’t be bothered with other people, is so destructive. To yourself and to others. I enjoy going out for a run without my phone or into the trails where I can hear my voice. I enjoy sitting at the park and watching the ducks dive for food and dogs chasing tennis balls. I love sitting at a basketball game and screaming like a mad woman! I love having a cup of coffee and tasting the flavor. I enjoy talking with someone and being tuned into every word they are saying. I find true joy in moments like this. I love candles. Fireplaces. Great wine. Community. Family time. Laughter. Peace. It is in these moments, that enlightenment comes to me about other things too. Practice prayer and meditation. Be still. This morning on my run, I heard the whisper that said, “The Tithe of Truth”. And so here you are reading this!
6. Serve. Being in the community and serving others and/or the world brings so much to their life and to our life. Knowing you make a difference for someone else is so satisfying. There are simple ways to serve. The things you care about in the world are a great place to start. Become a mentor to young people. Volunteer in the schools. Rescue pets. Tithe your resources into the church and community. I use this example. You can have $500 dollars in your pocket. And it is $500. But imagine if you put $100 into the schools, $100 into the church, $100 to a local non-profit, $100 to the firefighters organization and $100 to the homeless shelter. Think of how that money multiplies in the world. How many lives it touches. That is like compounding interest. The more you serve and give into the world, the more comes your way. In service of others, is a reason I believe we have all been gifted life.
7. Be courageous. Or said different, “JUMP”! Take a chance with your life. Do something everyday that scares the jibbers out of you. Believe that you can! Stepping into my journey has been fiercely scary and utterly fulfilling. I jumped into a world to advocate for others. Start a business that addresses injustices being done. I have written two books and aim for publishing. I have become a public speaker. I started a radio show. I have become a coach. None of this was in my sphere of thinking five years ago. I continue to jump and take risks for something more for my life. What is it that you have wanted to do, but you are playing it safe? I guarantee you that if you want to change your life, you will have to jump! There is so much truth in that saying you can’t see the entire staircase before you take the first step. If you pay attention to these ten ways, they all weave together to create a better life.
8. Accept yourself. I know I have already spoken about knowing yourself. This is another angle to that knowledge. Accept yourself for who you are and stop beating yourself up because you can’t lose those pounds. Or you aren’t pretty enough. Or you don’t have privilege. Each of our paths is different. Embracing and accepting who we are and what the journey is, is the beauty in this life.
9. Forgive. Hands down, this is the most difficult thing to do. Forgiving people who hurt you or treat you poorly. They don’t have to be in your life, but carrying that burden of hurt, just wears you down. I think many of us come from painful paths that have manifested in our lives in one way or another. We spend a lifetime carrying that crap around inside of us, while the person who offended us appears to be doing just fine. But what I know to be true is this. You cannot find happiness on someone else’s misery. So if someone causes harm to you, know that this will take care of itself with that person and you don’t have to waste energy on it anymore. Let them be. And my Faith side of me says, that when God shuts that door, he was looking out for me! And I thank Him. I trust that he knows what is best for me and that he loves me deeply. And so I have had to forgive some folks in my life that have deeply hurt me. Love them through your pain. And today I rise.
10. Love. Love. Love. Love others through their imperfections and mistakes. Love yourself even more. Spread love. Smile. Encourage others. Lift people. Open doors for them. Give them opportunity. Challenge them. Hug them. Be the Change you want to see! Listen. I do believe that the end of the day, Love will Prevail.
I hope this small token of encouragement is just what you needed! With so much love,