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Becoming More Authentic: Accept Yourself and Stop Seeking Approval

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“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” ~E.E. Cummings

For most of my life, I was a chameleon. I stayed under the radar, hoping I’d blend in and not draw attention to myself. I was full of self-doubt, so I molded my personality and beliefs based on my company. I traded my authentic self for the security of being liked by my family and friends because of my fear of being judged.

By suppressing my opinions, I was perceived as easy going, but at what cost? I disrespected myself by allowing others to influence major decisions in my life. I didn’t trust myself to make choices for myself. 

I withheld what I needed from others and was unable to communicate my emotions. My frustration of not being heard turned into anger whenever I did share my feelings with my family and significant other. In return I experienced anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, and self-loathing. That was a huge price to pay so others would accept and like me.

I become addicted to my story of the “broken girl” who compromised her integrity because her voice and emotions were neglected by her parents. I used my victim story to serve as an excuse for my bad behavior.

If I was “perceived” as a victim, I didn’t have to be held accountable for my bad choices.

I learned how to use others to get the love and attention I didn’t give myself. I defined my self-worth by comparing myself to others. I tried to be perceived as “perfect,” so I created unattainable standards that left me disconnected.

During my mid twenties I became exhausted of worrying about being inconsistent and acting differently around different people. I became disconnected to others and wasn’t able to cultivate meaningful relationships.

It requires real vulnerability to be authentic. What if I show my true colors and people don’t like the real me? Honestly, even as I write this article and think about people reading about my flaws it scares the bejesus out of me.

By 27, from the outside my life looked great, but on the inside I was on the verge of a breakdown. I was ready to create a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

I realized the world needs us to show up and share our gifts. There is more risk hiding our gifts from the world than expressing them. Our unexpressed ideas, dreams and gifts don’t go away. They destroy our worthiness and confidence. 

There is no shortcut to authenticity. It requires commitment and real inner work. I dove deeply into my emotional mess and started feeling the pain I had repressed. I made the daily commitment to take the following steps to be more authentic:

Step 1: Forgive and love yourself.

I had to forgive myself for my past mistakes. My ego enjoyed replaying my bad choices and punishing me by making me feel unworthy of love. By cultivating kindness towards myself, I honored and accepted the past, learned my lessons, and started loving myself.

What Can You Do: Consider how you can learn from your past so you can do better going forward. Always be kind to yourself because you can only ever do your best. Be content with that.

Step 2: Be willing to make a change and own your mistakes.

I found the willingness to embrace my imperfections and shared them with others. I started speaking and writing about my challenges through my vlogs on my website. I had to acknowledge some unpleasant truths about myself. The biggest one was admitting I enjoyed my “victim” story. I felt it served me by getting me sympathy and attention from others. By humbly owning my mistakes, I repaired my self-worth and confidence.

What You can Do: Commit to making a change. Get clear and admit why you hold on to your pain. Why do you think it serves you?

Step 3: Create a daily practice.

I created a daily practice of living authentically. I took care of my mind, body, and spirit and nurtured a loving relationship with myself. I looked to those who already lived authentically and noticed a pattern of traits they master. Below, I’ve listed the most common attributes all authentic people share.

What You Can Do: If you feel disconnected or unable to speak your truth, identify which traits you need to cultivate in your life and create an intention to become authentic. Do the necessary inner work to reconnect to your truth and your authenticity will radiate through you.

The traits I’ve identified as common to authentic people:

Mindfulness.

Authentic people accept their life experiences and feel the emotions that arise. They don’t repress their feelings and let them fester up. Anxiety and guilt arise from not being present. If we doubt our ability to handle challenges in the future, we create anxiety. Guilt results from feeling bad about past mistakes or people we have hurt. Authentic people experience life challenges from a place of love, forgiveness, and gratitude.

Self-respect.

Authentic people are impeccable when they speak to themselves, about themselves and others. They are mindful of the energy behind words and believe they are worthy of love and peace of mind. They have a healthy approach to life by knowing there will always be naysayers, and their opinions don’t matter.

Courage.

Authentic people create their own rules based on the standards that resonate with them. They have the courage to live their lives based on what they believe is right. This type of empowerment gives them the inner strength to withstand temptation and build self-confidence. When you have the courage to share your shame and guilt, they no longer have power over you.

Boldness.

Authentic people don’t allow their fears to prevent them being themselves. If you are focused on being true to yourself in every moment, you are less concerned about the potential for rejection from others. Nothing is more liberating than being yourself as fully as you know how.

Being authentic is a daily practice. It is a moment-by-moment choice of embracing your truth and being fearless enough to share it with the world. When you have nothing to hide and you can freely be yourself with everyone, there is a profound peace and confidence you will exude to the world.

Photo by Stella Dauer

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About Tejal Patel

Tejal Patel is a former divorce attorney and mediator who reinvented her life and became a new generation spiritual inspirer and children’s yoga teacher. Tejal created Astitva Seekers, a place she inspires others to spread love, live consciously and create lasting happiness. Get Daily Inspiration on Facebook and Twitter.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • http://www.kizi10.info/ Kizi 10

    I have been through the whole content of this blog which is very informative and knowledgeable stuff, I would like to visit again.

  • http://awarewoolf.tumblr.com/ Awarewolf

    Thank you for this, Tejal. Sometimes one needs to be reminded about these and many other things, and you’ve done it in a wonderfully educational way. Cheers (:

  • Grateful

    Thank you.

  • KucharkaZen

    Thank you so much for this article. This could be about me in so many ways :) It really resonates! And it helps.

  • cindroo

    Methinks I doth protest too much. I’ve spent a goodly portion of my life raging against victimhood. Judging and avoiding “victims” since after all, it’s obviously up to us how we create our own reality, so get over it and get with the program. Right? When inside, I hold on to a belief that I am fatally flawed when it comes to interacting with people. That any success is in spite of perceived neglect or acceptance from others. What this secretly gets me is that I can be lazy with my love and attention to other people, including those I love deeply. I can avoid putting it out there. I can try to twist rejection into some kind of battleground strength instead of admitting vulnerability and finding true connections. I’m an “anti-pleaser” and a black sheep and a rebel who rises above connection. Just a different side of the same coin.

  • endlesskn0t

    Very insightful, thank you. This really speaks to me because it’s one of the aspects in dealing with self-deprivation. Fear on many levels is what essentially holds us back from ourselves. Tackling fears takes time and practice, although any progress is an accomplishment because it sets us on the path to true potential and fulfillment.

  • Tejal

    I completely agree! I’m so glad the article resonated with you! Sometimes we want progress, relief and change to come quickly. But you are right, working through your fear takes patience and commitment. Loved your insight!

    Xoxo
    Tejal

  • Tejal

    It was very eye opening and refreshing to hear the perspective of the opposite experience. Regardless which side we are on I think there is a battle of vulnerability we all have to face. The mutual challenge is putting yourself fully and completely out there, regardless of your stance and owning who you are so you can meaningfully connect with others. Im so glad you shared your viewpoint. Thanks!!

  • http://hackmyheart.com/ Calae

    Wow, how appropriate that I found and read this, I can really relate to this. Thank you for listing some of the steps to take; they’re not easy, but I’m sure the rewards are worth it!

  • Tejal

    Absolutely warms my heart that it resonated with you. By you sharing that you have had similar struggles puts my heart at ease as well. So thank you for taking the time to comment and share how you enjoyed the article! Xoxo

  • Tejal

    You are so welcome! Thank you for reading and commenting my friend! Xoxo

  • Tejal

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful message. Very glad you resonated with the message! Xoxo :)

  • Tejal

    Very glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for taking the time to comment :)

  • Tejal

    I love when the universe brings me the message I needed to hear at the right time! Glad this was an article that came to you when you needed it! It took me some time to realize I needed to be patient with myself as I worked on these changes. Take it a day at a time, don’t be hard on yourself when you may stumble and be kind to yourself! :)

  • SarahChicago

    While this post is great and it spoke to me (and many, I’d guess!), I’d like to unpack some of
    the phrases used here, because for some, looking to change at age 27 (good for you!) or 37, 47, 57 – the longer one goes into adulthood not knowing the tools for change or the HOW steps to make it happen, the harder and less possible change seems.

    What exactly do you mean by things like:
    I dove deeply into my emotional mess
    I created a daily practice of living authentically.
    Do the necessary inner work

    Thank you.

  • http://hackmyheart.com/ Calae

    Thank you! I appreciate the encouragement and kind words. =)

  • Tiffany

    This might be my favorite post I’ve encountered on Tiny Buddha…which is saying a lot. Thank you so much for sharing. These are things I’m currently struggling to deal with in my own life. Your perspective is welcome and inspiring. Thank you so much.

  • Sum Bleddy Maid

    Amazing article, could relate to it so well and thankfully my life has fired up immensely recently as I have faced up and been through all that you describe, recognising and breaking repetitive patterns and learning that love starts with the self….. with that there is love every which way I look in my life, true, unconditional love. All is well and life is good. Thank you for your splendid article it was very re-affirming to read and is in my favourites to return to for this very purpose~! :-)

  • Jo23

    Thank you for this great post. Such a lot of helpful ideas that I would like to try to put into practice. My only problem is I don’t think I can ever be totally open with people about the consequences that have occurred because of some of bad choices, or my inaction due to fear or protest from others. I am so ashamed of some of the enormous screw ups I’ve made, and the time they’ve cost me, its too painful to tell people unless I give a reason such as ‘relationship held me back’ or ‘We never had money’ etc. Do you think its possible to be your authentic self today, without having to be open about your past? This is helping with the process, thanks again!

  • PressHeraldReader

    Wow this is so fitting for what I am dealing with right now – or at least a tool I am using to help deal with self-doubt and develop self-compassion. Your insights, and also your ability to admit your negative behaviors is remarkable and unique.

    I actually wrote about this very topic – Authenticity – yesterday on my own blog.http://compassionforyou.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/authenticity/

    Thank you for taking the time to write this and share it with the world.

  • http://BlissedOutBelle.com/ Shawna K: BlissedOutBelle.com

    I can relate to you when your refer to staying under the radar. Coming from a big family I dimmed my light, because of fear of being judged. Basically I was allowing the views of others to be more important than my own. I did this for quite some time even as a adult, and this propelled me do some serious work on myself. Now, I’m in a place where I’m confident, bold, and unapologetically speak my truth.

  • Leonie

    Thank you for this wonderful post. So timely… I am starting to realise this about myself; that I need to stop seeing things as a victim

  • Tejal

    Oh my gosh I can’t thank you enough for such a thoughtful comment. It warmed my heart Tiffany! I greatly appreciate your kind words. I’m so glad this article was able to help you! Certainly visit Astitvaseekers.com if you would like. Would love to stay connected and learn more about your journey! Xoxo

  • Tejal

    Shawna that’s quite amazing how you were able to transform to a bold and unapologetic person! Good for you!! I still constantly work on speaking my truth each moment! I truly commend your courage!

  • Tejal

    Hi Sum, so inspiring to here you were able to make a breakthrough with changing your habits. I know that’s no fleeting act do kudos to you:) I’m happy that the article spoke to you! Thank you for your thoughtful words:)

  • Tejal

    Hi Leonie! Recognition that you have chose a victim identity is a HUGE step because we remain in denial for so long. Be proud of yourself for taking that huge leap! Great changes will come your way! Always my kindest thoughts! Thank you for your beautiful comment!

  • Tejal

    Hi Jo: First off thank you for you very kind comment. You are so sweet. Now to your question. I want to reassure you that the exact feelings of shame and guilt you feel was exactly what came up for me. As I got honest about my past mistakes and the pain I caused myself and others I was ashmed to tell others. I realized the first step is to be honest with the screw ups you had. Acknowledge them and the uncomfortable feelings they bring up. Try to find the lesson in each situation. The more I tried to make excuses for my behavior I realized the pain persisted. Sometimes sharing your vulnerability with someone who deserves to hear your story can be so empowering and can bring such relief. If you have such a person you can share some of your story with, certainly speak your truth. The moment you acknowledge it, the pain loses power. I don’t think you need to speak about all your truth to someone to heal. Personally I used EFT or Tapping to heal through some of my issues. Once I acknowledge the fear and pain that I felt, I tapped through it to change my perscpective on past events. I also resort to journeling to let out my feelings. For me I had repressed so many of my fears and pain because of shame so I didn’t even know how to sort out my feelings. Journeling is safe and private. You can openly write out your feelings and sort them out. I found that after journeling and acknowleding my feelings I was able to speak about my past mistakes as I felt comfortable with my past. You are certainly on the right path. It was such an honor to connect to you. I would certainly love to remain connected so we can learn from each other. Feel free to connect with me at miracleworker921@gmail.com Have a beautiful day! I hope this helps. If you have any questions certainly let me know.
    XOXO

  • Tejal

    Hi Sarah: Thanks so much for you comment and your question. I agree, when I was trying to heal, I found it so daunting to find the right course that would help. I would love to elaborate on the few phrases you had questions about.
    1. How I dove into my emotional mess: For me I had a habit of repressing my feelings so when I realized I needed to heal, I had no idea why I felt anger, pain and shame. So my first step was addressing what fears I had. The best tool for me was Gabrielle Bernstein’s May Cause Miracles. This is a 40 day guidebook on making radical changes of shifting your fears. This was a beautiful guide of utilizing meditations, affirmations and journeling exercises that helped me gain confidence, self worth and get reconnected to my inner guide and intuition. Once I was able to uncover my fears, I utilized EFT or Tapping to help me dive deeper into breaking my emotional connection to traumatic events that made me create limiting beliefs, fears and insecurities. Journeling on my feelings and having a dream journal has by far shed so much light about my inner thoughts. Most of the time my mind and thoughts are running at a faster speed than I can process. Before I know it a certain thought enters my mind and I have an emotional response. I try to journal as soon as an intense thought or feelings arises so I can slow down and process the thoughts that come in my mind. Naturally I can’t always do this but I try to journal when an event and the feelings of the event are fresh in my mind.
    2. My Daily Practice of Living Authentically: With the groundwork of May Cause Miracles, I created a practice to make sure I spend time connecting and tending to my inner guidance and soul. I do this by starting my day with affirmations. I try to slow down and view my life as a day by day basis and moment by moment. So I create an intention of how I want my day to go. I focus on what fear I want to change my perspective. I don’t try to take on many things at once. I’ve included daily meditation into my practice. This means doing my breathing techniques at work, walking, eating, while driving, in the shower. I focused on making my life a moving meditation. Sometimes I naturally forgot but I catch myself more. This practice has helped me catch negative thoughts as they occur. I still need more work but I have progressed quite a bit on keeping my mind calm. When my mind is calm, I’m able to filter out my feelings. When I know how I feel, I’ve found that I can speak boldly, confidently and unapologetically as a speak my truth. Lastly, since this is a daily practice I try to start my day with reading something motivational. There are days when I don’t feel as energetic or positive, so hearing and reading the inspiration of others really puts me back on track. I created a separate email where I get inspirational articles and quotes. I read them throughout the day. I set up an alarm on my phone so that I get daily affirmation alerts. So if I find that I got caught in my ego mind, I can pull myself to the present moment when I read my alerts. I hope some of my little techniques help you out. If you have any other questions Sarah, certainly email me at miracleworker921@gmail.com. I would love to learn with you during this journey. Cheers and thank you again for the wonderful question!
    XOXO

  • http://nickysworld.wordpress.com/ Nicky

    Which is why I stop trying to be like someone else and instead focus on being me. Being me is very easy, being someone else is very hard.

  • Jane

    Wow, truly insightful and inspiring; thank you so much for sharing.

    Your honest account in this post is like reading my personal diary and self imposed limitations that I had (and still have) constantly used as a reason for not growing as a person. My journey out of that place began a year ago and just recently (within the last two weeks) I have been peeling back the next level of the proverbial onion; not without tears!
    I must say that reading this is the most relevant, thought provoking and joyful thing I have read online. Again, heartfelt thanks.

  • David Goettsch

    Powerful post. Thanks so much for really spilling it all out! It is so hard to be true to yourself, but the more you start to embrace the true you, the better you feel and the more the people around you will respect you. It’s a battle for sure, but it is the best fight there is, and it truly does get easier with time. Thanks again!

    Dave@personalgrowthproject

  • sneha

    After reading this blog today,i”ve told myself that yes im not the only individual in the world struggling everyday to be the real and true person that i am.I’m the kind of person who finds it very hard to start a conversation with a stranger and to befriend new people.Your life story has really inspire me in my pursuit of overcoming my many complexes and becoming my true self.So,i thank you for writing such a beautiful and helpful article.I would like to visit again..xoxo

  • lv2terp

    Powerful post! thank you for sharing such wise advise! :)

  • Discussant

    Thank you for this post! I wish everyone would read it and take in its wisdom, and stop giving their precious time and money to psychotherapists who profit from building life-ruining victim stories for people.

  • Tejal

    True Statement Nicky! You are so right!

  • Tejal

    Your so welcome Jane! I greatly appreciate your kind words. So glad that it touched you. Wishing you so much courage and strength as you navigate through your healing. Please feel free to connect with me on astitvaseekers.com. Would love to hear your accomplishments and struggles along the way. xoxo =)

  • Tejal

    Thank you David for your inspiring words. I agree with you. It’s so hard to let your truth to hang out the good bad and ugly. I’ve learned acknowledging your vulnerabilities and sharing your truth with others though is so scary is by far the most courageous thing you can do. People can feel the real connection when you are being raw and honest in an explainable way. It touches the place in their heart in a profound way where they can relate to the same issue in their life. lt is one of the best ways to help others. Thank you again Dave for your empowering words.

  • Tejal

    Hi Sneha! You are absolutely not the only person. After posting this article on Tiny Buddha I have had an outpouring of emails with people who struggle with it. And if you take a quick look at the comments below, rest assured you are not alone. You always have a community of people to reach out to and you can always connect with me on my website astitvaseekers.com or e-mail me directly miracleworker.com. I’m so glad this article has helped you down the journey of self-healing! It’s one of the most challenging but rewarding experiences. Your life will never be the same =) So proud of you! XOXO!

  • Tejal

    You are so welcome! So glad you enjoyed it! XOXO

  • Tejal

    Your welcome! Thank you for reading the post and sharing your thoughts! Glad you enjoyed it! XOXO

  • http://www.yepi10.net/ yepi 10

    wow! great

  • Tejal

    Thank you my friend! Xoxo

  • lx

    Thankyou for such an inspiring and thought provoking post. Every word you wrote about your life at 27, before you made these changes, is me.