Living authentically can be one of the most freeing things you can do. Here are eight ways to cultivate authentic living.
1. If something doesn't feel good in my gut, I will not continue doing it.
I truly believe that gut instincts are almost always right. Most people have that little feeling they get in their gut when something doesn't seem right. This could be a feeling you get about a person, place, or situation. It comes down to trusting yourself. If that little voice inside your head is saying that you aren't safe, turn your butt around and walk away. Self preservation happens when you look out for yourself, and that only happens when you know your needs. If you don't seem to have this voice of reason, fear not! You can bring it out on your own by asking yourself what your boundaries are. Know yourself deeply. Know what makes you tick, what gets under your skin, and what you cannot accept. If you know what your red line looks like, it is a lot easier to tell when it has been crossed. Don't be afraid to physically walk away from a situation that makes you uncomfortable.
2. I don't owe my allegiance to any ideology, religion, or lifestyle that ceases to make me happy.
You don't have to do what you have always done because that is who you have always been. If you reflect on yourself and are unhappy, change! You don't owe it to your past self to stay the same. You don't owe it to your friends or family to stay the same. You owe it to yourself to pursue happiness.
3. I will not let the opinions of people who have no investment, impact, or history in my life to affect me.
The only people whose opinion you should listen to are those who truly have your best interest at heart. Think about it, if an internet troll calls you ugly, why should you value what they say? Do you even know them? Will their opinion change your life? No. This goes for other randos you come across in your life. People come and go, don't let one person's negative energy invade your space. If this person is not someone you would go to for advice on a personal topic, then you shouldn't take their negative comments to heart either.
4. I will take care of myself the way it makes sense to me
Some people need to talk to a friend to reduce stress, others need to take a nap. I like running, meditating, and taking long baths. Self care is very personal and everyone does it their own way. Many articles online show self care routines for “inner peace”. I'm sure they are lovely, but make sure you do what is right for you. If you despise running, that won't relax you. Maybe you like dancing, so do that instead! Think about all the things that drain you, and all the things that make you calm or happy. When practicing your personalized self care routine, remove all those things that drain your energy. For me that could be checking emails or doing the dishes. The things that fill me up are meditation, drawing in a real sketchbook, taking walks in nature, running, and dancing. I try my best to do one of these along with my meditation practice every day. Fill yourself up so you have enough to pour back into your crazy, hectic life.
5. I will never be afraid to die and be born again
As humans we go through huge transitions in life. Whether it be in your personal life or career, you are always growing and changing. Sometimes life does what life does best and surprises you, gives you opportunities for growth and change you never would have dreamed of. You find yourself waking up one day and being amazed at how far you have come. When I think of my past of all-consuming depression and anxiety and compare it to how I feel today, I am in awe. Humans are so resilient. We have the power to die (figuratively) at the hands of our circumstances and be born again as a new, stronger person. Becoming who you really are is a journey that is easier for some than others, so remember that there is no timeline but your own. It is a natural cycle, so embrace it and don't be afraid of reincarnating into a better version of yourself. It is never too late to bloom.
6. I will not be afraid to fail
All throughout school, my father always told me “only A's are acceptable, no B's.” My siblings and I were all held to a very high standard, which I am thankful for. It made us take pride in our work. Those high standards rubbed off on me, and I became sort of a perfectionist. That fear of failure is still a very real thing, but every year it loosens its grip on me. I used to be so afraid to fail that I wouldn't even try. Ironically, not trying is in itself a failure. The way I battle this internal fear is to remind myself that everyone sucks at things in the beginning, and that by being afraid to try I'm not giving myself a chance to improve. Practice is the only way to get where you want to be skill-wise. You have to be okay with sucking miserably in the beginning, then one day it will “click”.
7. I will dress for myself and no one else
This one is especially important to me as a fashion designer. Growing up, every day at school was a chance to express myself with my clothes. There has always been different fashion trends and many people like to wear only what is “in style”. Back when I was in middle school, girls loved animal print. I hated animal print and still do to this day. I could have made myself a leopard print skirt to wear and be like everyone else, but I didn't. I wore the clothes that made me feel comfortable and like myself. I still do this now. Some days I dress up, other days I dress very minimal. And that's okay. I dress for myself and no one else, you should too.
8. I will frequently check in with myself and ask, “What do I really want out of life?”
We all know the answer to that question can change drastically as the years go on. As we grow and mature, we realize that we have an infinite number of paths we can choose from. Life never turns out like you pictured when you are younger, it is too complicated to contain in a single daydream. It is easy to go through life drifting along and becoming a victim of your circumstances. This promise is reminding yourself that it is okay to want more. There is nothing wrong with saying you are unhappy with the direction your life is going, and changing course. In order to get where you want to be, you have to know what you want in the first place. One thing I like to do if I feel I am losing direction is perform a 5-10 meditation practice. During this meditation I clear my mind of any distractions and imagine myself at my absolute happiest. I try to vividly picture every detail: where I am living, what I do for a living, who I am around, and what type of person I am at that moment. By envisioning every detail, it is easier to then form a real plan to get yourself there. After you meditate, make sure to write down what you pictured and make a plan to accomplish your dreams.
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