Embrace Who You Are (Not What People Expect You to Be)

Man with Arms Up in the Air

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” ~Brené Brown

Now that the fog of what everyone else wanted for me has lifted, it seems so clear to me that we need to be who we truly are—not what society expects us to be. But it wasn’t always this way.

For decades, I bought into a model of success that belonged to someone else. I was studying for my MBA, but I didn’t want my friends to think I was weird, so I didn’t reveal that I was a yogi. I didn’t want them to not take me seriously, to laugh at the thought of me doing yoga while wearing a business suit.

And I wouldn’t tell my yoga students that I liked heavy metal because I feared it would make me look less spiritual. When was the last time you heard the Dalai Lama talk about Ozzy Osbourne?

I didn’t delve into the artistic sides of my spirit—the parts that painfully wanted to celebrate music, art, or poetry—because I was led to believe it was a distraction from my professional career. I was caught in a catch-22 where I couldn’t be one thing because I was another. Society would only accept me as one.

Reality Doesn’t Bite

In fact, I have seen the exact opposite. The more I practice finding, being, and expressing myself, the more prosperity I experience and the better I perform in business. Most importantly, I’m living the advice we give our kids: be yourself.

By finding our true selves, we can express ourselves internally and to those around us, and that’s when we become aware of this symphony. Today, we often get trapped in the little “self,” or the pain body, as Eckhart Tolle calls it. It’s the false mask we put on to protect ourselves and fit in with others’ expectations.

Connecting with our true selves is challenging—we often feel a great deal of pressure to meet societal demands of who we should be or what we should look like, often in direct conflict with authenticity. Yet we have the great potential to unveil our true selves and rock the universe.

Break Past Societal Demands

Societal demands know no bounds—they impact both men and women, but they affect them in different ways.

I’ve found that, while self-expression is difficult for everyone, men often put up a different façade of who they think they need to be at work and home; then, they pretend that it’s not a façade. Women, on the other hand, are more aware of this façade.

Women are also more reluctant to express all the facets of their personalities until they’re comfortable with a group. Men will often put up a façade and stay in it longer. Women need a sense of trust to open up, which takes time. In both cases, inauthenticity can lead to dysfunction, stress, disease, and distance from your highest potential.

Uncover Your True Identify

That’s not to say that you must express all facets of who you are at all times for all people. As humans, we must be authentic and true with the aspects of ourselves that we do express in each context. Letting only certain facets of the diamond in you shine in various settings is perfectly fine as long as it’s a facet of the true you—not a false mask.

Here are some actions you can take to tap into spirit by tapping into your authentic self:

 1. Do yoga.

I strongly recommend Kundalini Yoga, which works at all levels—physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual. It gets you out of your head and helps you uncover your unique vibrations without letting your brain or fear take over.

 2. Sit in silence for a few minutes.

I do this every day. Sit in the space of your greatness and spirit. Do nothing, chant nothing, and don’t worry about how you sit; just be. Sounds easy, right? Try it. It’s one of the hardest things for many people to do, yet it’s the most powerful way to get connected to your true source.

 3. Self-reflect.

When you think, “I can’t be that way” or “What will they think?” ask yourself where this voice is coming from. Is it fear, the need to be liked, or a need to fit in? Then, adjust your strategy and take a few risks. Find a way to be authentically present and engaged, and let that part of you speak, act, or even stay silent.

 4. Put pen to paper.

Ask yourself for details of who you are, and write them down. Ask yourself, “Am I authentic in my expression and experience of each of these roles? What is one thing I can do to move closer to my authentic expression in each facet of who I am—my words, my appearance, and my actions?” If you journal first thing in the morning, it propels you to another whole level of self-realization.

5. Tune out the negativity.

When you’re watching TV or reading a magazine or a website and you hear the message “you’re not good enough as you are,” turn it off or simply say, “I reject that.” You’re a powerful and divine expression of spirit back to spirit—perfect and complete. The more authentic you are, the more you will know and experience this.

 6. Take action.

Take one action that’s a true expression of your unique self or your unique note in the symphony of the universe. Just speak or act authentically in a small way when you’re tempted to stay quiet or pretend you’re something else, and see how it feels. Keenly observe how you feel afterward. Are you breathing deeper? Smiling more? Feeling less tense?

You have the potential to shape a new reality as you discover your true self. You must tune in to the incredibly unique and beautiful kaleidoscope of who you are and let it shine. Experiment a bit, especially around your closest friends and family.

Embrace your authentic self, and in enacting this positive change, you’ll enact a powerful change in the world around you.

Man with hands in air image via Shutterstock

About Paresh Shah

Paresh Shah is an experienced entrepreneur, executive, yogi, life coach, and dad of four kids. He’s the founder and CEO of Glimpulse, the Human Expression Company that creates products to challenge, inspire, and equip people to be happier, healthier, and more giving through authentic self-expression.

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