If you can be anything...be kind, or be Batman...but ALSO be YOU!
A common mantra is – if you can be anything in the world be kind…or be batman…I would prefer to start with – if you can be anything in the world – be YOU first. But so often we don’t always know who ”you” actually is. How often do you feel “People just don’t get me”, or ask yourself “Why am I doing this, this isn’t me?” or perhaps feel a twinge of envy when we see others whom we perceive as “more carefree” than we?
Firstly, a few home truths to accept:
1. While we spend a great deal of time thinking about how we are perceived by others, even if they offer a cursory glance, they spend less time thinking about us – we are much more self involved than we care to admit…so next time dance like no-one’s watching as they really aren’t they’re probably on their phones.
2. Being “authentic” is easy when your brand of authenticity is in – so says actor Billy Porter; and indeed, some people feel more authentic when their behaviour DOES CONFORM to society’s norms! (This is ok).
3. Many of us try to be “one way” when in role and say our “true personality” comes out when they aren’t in that role…we see the role as an “act”. While compartmentalising can help in some situations, if you can achieve a through line of truth throughout EVERYTHING you do, you will feel more holistic and in balance.
Authenticity keeps us grounded so try the following tools:
1. Live your VITALS
Our VITALS are as important as air and water to life. If we don’t live them we feel out of balance, and the further we depart from them, the more lost we begin to feel, so identify your:
Values (What really drives you? What do you care about?)
Interests (What do you love to do...and if you aren't doing much of it now, how can you begin to include it?)
Temperament (We can adapt to being patient, or working under high pressure, but take some time to recharge in those environments that suit you best)
Around the Clock (Early bird or Night owl? Again, we can adapt to a pattern, but mixing it up will not always help us)
Life goals/meaningful life events (Think of an event that was meaningful - and in particular why it was to you. So often we recall the narrative others have placed on us, think about what matters to you and you might uncover a different story!)
Strengths (Every day, seek to engage with - or showcase(!) - at least one strength - and try to develop one weakness)
“…Each man in his time plays many parts” said Shakespeare, and on the “stage” of life, so often we fall into the “adaptive” self, the self which is shaped by the expectations of our job, our social role, and even our relationships.
Whether you need to touch base with your authentic self before you shape to the job you want; or if you are rediscovering who you are; or if you are creating that perfect personal brand, try these simple questions to maintain that sense of “feeling like you” again.
2. 5 Questions to understand your authentic brand
- With whom (and doing what) am I most comfortable (and seek to do it more – or include it in your job)
- What do I personally bring to the table (what is my USP) – and be proud of it – no-one can do it as well as you…if you are the best organised in the world – great, own it!
- How do I want to make others feel? (Or even how do I naturally make others feel?...I am a naturally positive person and while I can be extremely serious as the need calls, it is important for me to surround myself with vibrant energy…or people who appreciate it.)
- What 3 values describe me best (and work to live them every day!)
- What do I want my personal presence to say?
This is a great way to start thinking about who you – or your brand – are, and whether you are putting that across in everything you do – authenticity is about walking the walk – even if sometimes you have to adapt to the terrain.
3. Reflect upon YOUR story so far
These are the most common questions I ask when I am interviewing guests for The Chrissy B Show as they allow you to reflect on your personal journey so far:
- Where did you begin
- How did you get to where you are now
- What are your proudest moments
- What are key lessons you’ve learned
- What highs and lows came your way?
- What motivates and inspires you?
- Where to now?
This exercise is to remind you that YOU OWN YOUR OWN Story is not the same as anyone else’s, and never could be. Always seek to be the best you, not the second best someone else!
4. Quick everyday tips to engage with the real you:
- If something feels “off kilter” recognise it by writing it down. You may not find what is troubling you right away, and therefore writing it down prevents you clogging your mind up trying to remember it, but through acknowledgement you are primed to be open to finding an explanation and later a solution for it.
- Utilise and blend your best assets of your personal and professional life in both areas. For example, a solicitor may be able to deal with a challenging Parent-Teacher meeting in the way you might approach a legal case; a salesperson may bring passion for the product itself into the “standard pitch” for new clients which suddenly elevates its effect.
- Authenticity is about honesty and that there will be areas you may not like, or even be ashamed of. Tell yourself that while you may not be proud of past behaviours, you will have had a reason for engaging in them, and no longer need to do so.
Psychologist Professor Brene Brown said “Authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It’s a conscious choice of how we want to live…the choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
Show up, be real, be YOU
Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author with a specialty in the "how to take action", rather than just giving explanation and advice. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; and catch her practical masterclasses Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV & Energy Top Up for resilience. For coaching tools based within positive psychology: click Her YouTube Channel . Twitter/IG @draudreyt