Keys to Discovering Your Authentic Self

Everyone hears about how being yourself is the key to happiness and fulfillment. Yet, from the time people are small children through to adulthood, there are forces at play that discourage you from being you.

Perhaps you wanted to study art in school but your parents felt like that was too frivolous and impractical. So instead you studied accounting to ensure that you'd always be able to get a good job. Or maybe in high school you wanted to join the glee club, but your parents pushed you to play sports instead.

Whatever the case may be, if you find it difficult as an adult to connect with who you are - with your most authentic self - here are a few tips to begin the process.

Start Small

Leaning how to live as your authentic self is a slow process that requires understanding who you are and what you want for your life. It is a process that involves serious introspection -- especially if you've spent nearly all your life playing a role that you've realized is not making you happy. Start small and make one change at a time. For example, have you re-connected with your passion for painting? Go to the art supply store and grab some supplies to begin expressing yourself on canvas. Have you realized that certain experiences from your past have stifled your ability to express your wants and needs? Grab a book on self-expression, or join a group that involves activities requiring you to express your thoughts and feelings.

Whatever you do, take it one step at a time.

Go Slow

Life today often seems to revolve around moving faster and producing continually bigger and better results. Although there is a time and a place for speed, connecting with your authentic self requires staying present, being observant, and slowing down.

Set aside time in your day and go for a long walk. Observe the world around you. Pay attention to the sights, the sounds and the smells – what memories do these things conjure up? How do those memories make you feel?

Unplug

There is a constant barrage of information that everyone is exposed to these days. Staying informed is important. However, it can also be mind altering by telling you what you should value instead of connecting you with those things you truly value. Set aside time on a regular basis to completely unplug and allow your thoughts to unfurl. Take it one step further and write those thoughts down in a journal.

Explore the Unknown

Exploring the unknown plays a big role in self-discovery. Try an exercise or meditation class. Plan a road trip. Take up kayaking, rock climbing or cooking. Take a few hours in your day and do something that you wouldn’t normally do. The idea is not to excel at everything -- or anything for that matter. It's simply to discover what makes you happy, what makes you tick, and hopefully what makes you…you.