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being yourself

Being yourself can be harder than it sounds. Here are some practical ways to start building your happiness from the inside out and living a life that reflects who you are.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

Gandhi

Happiness is . . . . . . . . ? how would you finish that sentence? Perhaps it’s one of these; being unconditionally loved and accepted, truly believing in yourself and living your hearts desires, having everything you could possibly need, being healthy, feeling whole.

What if happiness is as simple as being true to yourself? Have you experienced that feeling of wholeness, of being loved beyond what others thought of you and transcending even your own ideas of who you are? It could start from following an intuition, a gut feeling, fully embracing the present moment or the whisper of a re-affirming thought, a sense of knowing. Being true to yourself is seeing, understanding and hearing who you are with full acceptance, compassion and love and showing up as yourself through your experience.

How often do you choose instead to deceive yourself, distract yourself from reality, create excuses, justify your behaviour or delude yourself into thinking something that isn’t true just so you can feel better about yourself? It happens to all of us and it usually starts in childhood when you were punished for doing what you wanted to do or saying something someone didn’t want to hear. It became safer just to ignore your desires and intuition and choose the easier path. Any of this sound familiar? It’s ok, you are here now and you know it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.

So how can you learn to listen to your voice again, start reconnecting with who you really are and start living it? The key is awareness of our beliefs and how they impact our thoughts, feelings and actions on ourselves and others. Starting to create awareness around who you are and setting clear intentions for how you want to live is not only important for your sense of self, it’s also integral to your sense of happiness.

Self-awareness is the key to creating meaningful change. Gandhi and Lao Tzu seem to be on the same page with this one,

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

Lao Tzu

All-day every day you think and you act, hopefully in alignment with who you are. How much time do you spend with your thoughts, or thinking about your thinking? Take time out for a deep breath and have a listen to your thoughts, it’s is a great place to start. Journaling and reflection are also beneficial for understanding on paper how your current beliefs and self-talk are directing your life. The right questions can help unravel what is going on behind your thoughts and can provide insights beyond the usual self-reflection, as often writing in itself can be a form of thinking. Your journal self-discovery series is a great place to start for questions ready to go.

Integrity takes honesty and courage. When was the first time you lied to yourself or let yourself down? Every time you told yourself you were going to do something you let fear get in the way you eroded that fundamental trust in yourself. Not only that, but it also chips away at your sense of self and self-esteem as well. It gets to the point where it’s tempting just to give up on the idea of being yourself! This is where it is important to practice self-compassion. Compassion is just being able to hold space for yourself to feel what you need to feel without judgement, shame or guilt and hopefully with some kindness and comfort instead. This is where self-care can be helpful. Taking a warm bath, going for a walk in nature or enjoying some restorative yoga can help create a safe place. It takes courage to be honest with yourself and accept where you are so that you can start to move forward.

Building trust with yourself and others makes it real. Sense of self and self-esteem are also tied in with what you say and do for others. Writing down all of the commitments you’ve made to yourself and anyone else can help you to tackle them when you feel ready, one by one. It’s important to reflect on each commitment and whether it’s in alignment with who you are now. If you don’t think it is or you know you can’t keep the commitment then you need to be honest with yourself. Acknowledge and accept that you are allowed to change your mind. You now have the choice to follow through, renegotiate the commitment or move on. Stay true to that willingness to follow through on what you decide to do now and keep open communication with yourself. You’ll be amazed at how much headspace and energy you free up from closing those loops.

Commitment keeps you honest and rebuilds trust in yourself. Writing down your commitments to yourself in your diary is not only a powerful reminder it also creates a greater sense of trust and integrity. Keep it to a maximum of 3 important commitments to focus on for the day. This could be anything from committing to physical activity or making time for housework. It could even be a commitment not to do something – even better, as it will free up your schedule! Allocate the time in your diary and if you’ve made the effort to complete the task you can tick it off. The focus then becomes practice, the action itself rather than achieving an outcome. Baby steps.

Make it achievable. When I’m building trust with someone else I always start with the little things. Doing what I say I’m going to do, making myself aware of what’s important to them and being present when I’m spending time with them. We build trust with ourselves the same way, by sticking with small achievable actions to build up our integrity muscle again. Even just spending 5min a day being active, writing or doing something just for you can give you a better foundation to work from than promising yourself to do an hour of exercise and then doing nothing at all.

Accountability gives you a fail-safe. If I wanted to change a core belief or behaviour that I had struggled with in the past, then I create more accountability. It adds more gravity to the commitment when you create a feedback loop that involves another person. It’s a lot more challenging to make excuses when you have someone else to keep you honest. Ensure you choose someone who you trust to share your commitment with and who is understanding and supportive of your desire to change. If you want to change an addictive or destructive behaviour there are always professionals out there passionate about helping you. Seek them out!

Happiness is all about loving and trusting yourself on a whole new level. How are you going to support your own happiness today?