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Times we question our authenticity

Recently I've been thinking a lot about 'true self' and what it means to be authentic. It's a complex topic and one I would really love to get into with you over a coffee and piece of cake. But in the meantime, here's some food for thought....

The subject of authenticity gets even more complex when we think about how we've changed over time. What was once authentic to you may no longer be the case. True authenticity is when your actions and behaviours align with your values and beliefs. And these evolve over time too.

"Authenticity is the daily practice letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we are." Brene Brown

When we're young, we adopt our belief and values system from those influential people who care for us. We observe how they act, and we see this as a safe way to be in the world. Subconsciously, we take those on as our beliefs, our life script. We assume that playing by those rules means we will grow up to be 'successful' adults.

And for the most part, this is true.

There are a few times in life, however, when you naturally want to challenge those beliefs and values - often this starts in adolescence as children become teenagers and want more independence.

It can also be when you experience significant changes in your life:

  • Starting in the world of work

  • Having your own family

  • A trauma or loss of a loved one

  • A relationship break down / starting a new relationship

  • Career change

  • Moving or travelling

All of these offer new perspectives which lead you to reflect on (and question) your values and beliefs. What was once important to you may have changed.

Navigating this can feel uncomfortable - what felt true to you in the past, may no longer feel authentic, yet you may still try to cajole yourself into that older, familiar version.

If you're questioning your true self, spend time thinking about what was true to you at a point in the past versus what feels true now. You don't need to act on this information right away, but this helps bring awareness to why you may feel conflicted.

1. Firstly, draw a vertical line down the middle of a piece of paper. On the left, list everything that felt true to you in the past. It helps to pick an exact year or age. List your traits, your hobbies, how people described you, the things that you enjoyed doing, what brought you to life and the people you enjoyed spending time with.

2. On the right, do the same for what's true to you today.

3. Write unedited until you can think of nothing more to add.

4. What do you notice about the two lists? Are there descriptions that are similar? Do they conflict?

5. How much time do you spend in the right hand column, and how much time do you spend trying to fit in the left?

6. Write some 'true-self' intentions for yourself for the week ahead.

7. Review them at the end of the week to see how you've got on.

Take your time. Change is inevitable.



Gemma Brown is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation, working with individuals and groups to navigate successfully through transitions - be it career, relationships or life in general. Her belief is that when we confidently bring our whole selves to all areas of life, anything is possible. Transitions exist in both our personal and business life, and so often, the two fiercely overlap. Coaching with Gemma focuses on you as a whole, enabling you to identify your strengths, build confidence and to live a life with increased purpose and direction. Gemma works face to face with clients in the Cambridge area as well as via Zoom. For more about Gemma, visit her 'About' page or contact her directly.

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