Monday, November 30, 2015

The Negative Side Of Not Being Truthful With Yourself

The Negative Side Of Not Being Truthful With Yourself
"Truth is incontrovertible.  Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is."
Winston Churchill
Being an authentic person is all about living in an honest and truthful way, without trying to hide your feelings or being afraid to admit your weaknesses as well as your strengths.

There are many reasons why we try to hide who we are. We say yes when we really mean no so that we do not disappoint people, or through fear of being disliked. We go along with our spouse’s plans to see the latest football game at the stadium or chick flick at the movies even though we can’t stand them because we do not want to ‘rock the boat’ in our relationship. We see a total disaster looming on a project at work but don’t dare speak up for fear of being ridiculed or seen as too bossy, unfeminine, weak, or scared.

All of these examples of inauthentic living might not seem like a big deal, but if you find yourself constantly behaving like this all day, every day, not being authentic can soon take its toll on your mental and physical health. You might think you are “getting away with it” or “faking it ‘til you make it”, but there are many emotional and even physical health-related consequences of living an inauthentic life.

The Emotional Consequences of Not Being Authentic

The emotional consequences of leading an inauthentic life include:

  • Low self-esteem - Feelings of not being appreciated, loved or valued for who you are.
  • Low self-confidence - Feelings of “not being good enough” to be yourself.
  • Low self-worth - Feeling like you are a fraud or don’t deserve your good fortune, also known as “impostor syndrome.”
  • Keeping up appearances even if you are in serious trouble - Thinking you always have to play a role to keep people happy or fulfill certain expectations; living behind a mask for fear of what others will think of you.
  • Feeling like a caged tiger - As your inauthentic behaviors increase, so too can your feelings of “being trapped” in a relationship or certain role, such as the perfect wife, the dutiful son, the successful businessman.
  • Low self-respect - You will not be able to respect yourself, let alone earn the respect of others if you don’t actively try to be truthful and live your best life. You may think you are fooling people, but most will sense you are being insincere or a fraud in some way.
  • Low self-regard - Always trying to make others happy, while feeling miserable yourself. You go along with things for the sake of a quiet life. You don’t allow yourself to say no and to mean it.

The Physical Consequences of Not Being Authentic

All of these emotional consequences will usually be accompanied by physical changes in the body, which over time can lead to serious health issues. The physical consequences of living an inauthentic life include:

  • Stress
  • Tension
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Lack of self-worth and therefore of good self-care
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Backache
  • Jaw pain from grinding your teeth
  • Lowered immunity, so you are less able to fight off illnesses like colds

Now that we have talked about the ways in which being inauthentic can affect our body, mind and spirit, you might recognize one or more of these as consequences you’ve had to deal with, or physical symptoms you’ve been trying to relieve with medication or unhealthy strategies - like drinking too much alcohol or eating too much. If any of these consequences resonate with you, it is time to take steps to get back on track to lead a more authentic life.

Friday, November 27, 2015

There Are Advantages To Being Disliked

There Are Advantages to being disliked
"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly."
English Proverb
Most of us are taught to be people pleasers from a very young age, so the idea that there are any advantages at all in being disliked is probably a new one for many of us. The biggest advantage is that it frees us to be our authentic self, shaking off the shackles of society expectations as we forge our own destinies.

There are actually many advantages to being disliked and unpopular. Here are just a few.

Being True to Yourself

You may wish to be popular and the life of the party at work or school, but popularity is not as enduring as being true to yourself. Being true to yourself means making smart choices that allow you to look in the mirror each day and be proud of what you see.

Not Bowing to Peer or Parental Pressure

The idea of being ourselves can be almost unthinkable when we are children, as we bow to our parents’ wishes so they will praise us. We are also prone to give in to peer pressure, even when we know it is wrong, because ‘everyone is doing it.’ For example, millions of people all over the world use heroin, but that does not make it a valid lifestyle choice any sane person would wish to make. Yet countless numbers of people experiment and get hooked on drugs because of peer pressure, from the nicotine in cigarettes to the alcohol in beer, wine and spirits.

Setting Your Own Goals

By listening to all the naysayers who might have written you off as useless, you are free to set your own goals. In fact, being told you can never do something is often the inspiration to achieve exactly what they say you will never be able to do. It’s fun to defy expectations. And on the way to your goals, you will find positive people who will support you.

Achieving Your Dreams

A lot of people talk big about what they are going to do or be. If you’ve ever been to a high school reunion, you have probably been surprised to find that the people who were so popular and seemed to have the most potential have achieved little or nothing in their lives. By contrast, there are those who were disliked or even bullied, but used those negative experiences to spur them on to success. As the phrase goes, “Living well is the best revenge.” Achieve your dreams, and never stop dreaming.

Being Freed from Time Wasters and Meaningless Distractions

If you are unpopular and disliked, you will save a lot of time and energy by not having to jump through all the hoops everyone expects you to. You can say no and mean it without worrying what other people think or getting saddled with all the terrible jobs that no one else wants to do. You can focus on your own career instead of having to save the butt yet again of your lazy colleague in the next cubicle who is actually earning more than you.

We are not talking about being mean or spiteful, but of living your life with honesty and integrity. By doing this, you will set an example for others and attract other sincere people to you. You will often become the person whose opinion everyone respects because you are such a good example of a person in tune with their feelings and successful in all areas of his/her life.

Now that you have discovered the main advantages of being disliked, go on - live a little. See how many false friends you can weed out of your life by just being your authentic self. Chances are you will never even miss them as you move forward to achieve all your goals and dreams.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Are You Living a Lie?

Are You Living a Lie?
"Unless we love the truth we cannot know it." -Blaise Pascal
Here’s a quick quiz for you. Answer honestly. Do you feel:

  • Like you are constantly hiding behind a mask?
  • Worried that others will not like you?
  • That if you say no, you are a bad person and will be letting everyone down?
  • Trapped in a life that does not seem to be your own?
  • Like you are always comparing yourself to others, with them on top and you on the bottom?
  • As if you're finding yourself not good enough, no matter how hard you try?
  • Afraid that if your boss, co-workers, spouse or children found out X about you, they would never look at you in the same way again?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then the likely truth is that you are living a lie.

You are not the only one. It is an easy trap to fall into and can be a deep and difficult one to climb out of. But the effort can be well worth it if the result is a happier, healthier you.

Reasons Why We Could Be Living a Lie

It seems as if almost from the moment we are born, we have a certain role in the family with a certain set of expectations, both spoken and unspoken. Our family and the wider world is telling us who we are supposed to be rather than allow us to express who we really are. Our parents want us to be happy, of course, but we just might not have within us what it takes to be a doctor or lawyer, get accepted to their prestigious alma mater, or follow in their career footsteps.

On the other hand, our parents might have low expectations for us; maybe there’s never been a college graduate in the family, or they did just fine working in a hardware store all their lives and that should be enough for you too.

We get a range of messages about how we are supposed to do, think, and be. Children should be seen and not heard; we must never waste food; we should always clean our plates. Over time, these habits become second nature to us. However, they are not necessarily healthy or helpful if they lead to, for example, being terrified of speaking in public or being vastly overweight.

When we go to school, we might have a teacher who is never satisfied no matter how hard we try. Or we might be told we are not good at X and so we should not even bother to try. We might be bullied over the way we look, dress, speak, or even for being too smart or too stupid at school. Rather than get encouragement or support from the adults who influence our lives, we are told to ‘man up’ or be more ‘ladylike.’

There are now more opportunities for both men and women to defy traditional expectations, but the truth is that we often internalize various unhelpful attitudes and actions as normal and therefore judge ourselves as abnormal or less than perfect if we wish to live our lives differently.

The peer pressure and parental pressure can soon result in us constructing a mask of the ‘perfect’ child, sibling, spouse and so on. As the pressure builds from outside to conform, your own authentic self begins to feel trapped and miserable, like a caged tiger the zoo pacing back and forth, longing to be free.

If you have been living a lie in order to please others, you owe it to yourself to start taking action to live a more authentic life in which your true self can shine through.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Are You Sick and Tired of Not Knowing What You Want From Life?

Are You Sick and Tired of Not Knowing What  You Want From Life?
Ralph Waldo Emerson addressed a graduating class at Harvard University:
"Young men, be careful what you want, for you will surely get it."

Every year thousands of kids are asked what they want to be when they grow up. Many don’t know. Even worse, many adults are still struggling to figure out what they want from life. Like many, they fall into the trap of doing what’s expected of them. They end up bored, unsatisfied and make poor decisions based on the life they are living now. They never follow the dreams they had as a kid; instead they wander aimlessly without any goals or direction.

That’s pretty scary.

If you don’t know what you want in life, isn’t it time your figured it out? People who know what they want function better in society, know where they are headed, are happier, and make better decisions in life.

Use the following seven tips to help you figure out exactly what you want in life.

1. Be selfish with your time. If you are constantly saying yes to other people for your time and commitments, you can’t figure out what you want to be doing. Put yourself at the top of your list. Ask yourself what you would be doing right now if you had no family, friend or job obligations.

2. Don’t regret things you did or didn’t do in the past, or saying no to others. It’s your life and you should live it the way you want that makes you happy. Constantly regretting things from your past stops you from going forward.

3. Sit down and really think about what you need the most in your life. Is it family and love? The freedom of creative expression? Financial security or serving others? List your priorities. Think about the legacy you want to leave when you exit this world.

4. Figure out what makes you really happy. Is it being around kids or helping the elderly? Maybe it’s traveling or owning a successful business. Determine what the one thing is that makes you the happiest. Then you’ll have a pretty good idea of where you want to be in life.

5. Know what upsets you. Be specific. If you don’t like your office job, figure out what exactly you hate about it. Is it your workload? Or your freeloading co-worker? Or maybe it’s being inside when you’d really rather be out of doors all day long. Can you fix it? Or make changes somehow?

6. Remain positive. It may take time to truly determine what you want to do. You’re likely to have some detours along the way and make some decisions that will affect how you continue. Keep a positive attitude to help you keep going.

7. Question everything. Are some of your thoughts limiting beliefs? Things like “I’m not smart enough to do that” or “artists have to starve before hitting it big” are thoughts that limit you taking action and exploring whether this is something you might be interested in doing.

Not knowing what you want to do or get out of life can be depressing and scary. We all have a purpose but many don’t know what it is yet. Not knowing where you’re going can lead you to make poor choices along the way as well.