Self-Awareness: The Key to Living Authentically



Who are you? Not the stories you tell about yourself, where you’re from and where you’re going, or the roles that have come to represent your life – mother, daughter, employee, father, doctor, lawyer, entrepreneur … the authentic “you” behind all of the labels.

If you can’t easily answer that question you certainly are not alone. The age-old question of “Who am I?” is for many people like an itch they can never seem to scratch enough. As one reader so eloquently put it, “How can I ever figure out who I am meant to “be” in life if I can’t even figure out who I am now?!”

One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being true to yourself. ~Shannon L. Alder

What It Means to Live Authentically

Let’s be honest, the notion of being “authentic” has been kicked around so much it’s become something of a buzzword. But hype aside, the question remains, just how do we find that special place of truth within ourselves?

Well, first we need to define authenticity, and that in itself can be a bit tricky since many researchers seem to have their own version and they do love to use scientific jargon in the process.

So, for the sake of clarity, let’s go with my interpretation.

Being authentic is more than being real it is finding what is real. We connect with our authentic self when we learn to genuinely embrace all our quirky bits and pieces and act in ways that are consistent with our deepest values, rather than attempting to alter our appearance or behavior in order to fit in or to gain the approval of others.

Doing the work to become more self-aware is a process that requires discipline, patience and a hefty dose of curiosity.

For example, have you ever taken the time to clarify your core values, or considered how many of your beliefs and values are holdovers from your childhood or the influence of others, and how much of it is grounded in what you believe (or have been told) you should be?

The Complex Nature of Self-Awareness

Take a moment to consider the following graph and you’ll see that self-awareness is actually an umbrella term that covers many different areas, all of which underscore the various concepts and behaviors that combine to make you who you are.

Self Awareness Graph


Self-awareness isn’t a magic bullet to finally decide what you want to be, do and have in life, but it is a big step in the right direction.

  • The more you know about yourself, the better you are at adapting life changes that suit your needs and the better you’ll understand why you do the things you do.
  • The more you understand about yourself, the easier it will be to have compassion for others, and the stronger your relationships will be.
  • The more you know about your existing habits, the easier it is to improve on them or create new and better habits.

So many issues we face in our lives, from stress, relationship problems, worry, negative internal beliefs, our moods and emotions, our behavior can all be seen and understood more clearly by becoming more self-aware.

An authentic life grows like a sturdy tree. And like a tree, it grows slowly.  Every time you make a different and better decision, it grows a little. Every time you choose to do the right thing, even when nobody would find out otherwise, it grows a little. Every time you act with compassion, relinquish your right to strike back, take a courageous stand, admit fault or accept responsibility, it grows a little. ~Steve Goodier

Awareness is a powerful tool. When used the right way it can help you rewrite life stories that no longer serve you, and undo negative and limiting internal beliefs. As much as 90% of our behavior stems from unconscious beliefs or patterns. As long as our behaviors remain unconscious, we will remain a slave to them.

As long as our behaviors remain unconscious, we will remain a slave to them.

Authentic awareness enables you to face up to your behavior, and stop listening to excuses or accept denials. For example, if you keep saying you want to be healthy and live a long life, but you never exercise and keep eating unhealthy food. A keener understanding of your behavior is the first step to begin effectively changing your behavior.



How to Begin Increasing Self-Awareness

Meaningful change begins by mustering the courage to be objective and brutally honest with ourselves. There can be no growth until we stop making excuses or denying our wants and needs.

Important first steps in this process include clarifying your core values and learning to identify the stories you tell yourself and others about who you are, where you’re coming from and where you’re going.

I highly recommend using a personal journey for this process.

If we truly believe in living an authentic life, then we must continually be learning about ourselves by challenging our fears, identifying our triggers and sorting through our old emotional baggage.

It is about finding where your authentic self feels the most alive, free and unburdened — and then having the courage to live fully from this place.

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Emotionally Resilient Living

When you know yourself, you are empowered. When you accept yourself, you are invincible.


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