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How to Be Radically Authentic and Align With Your True Purpose

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I’ve realized, over time, that authenticity is the first step to true spirituality.  Not only that but a key ingredient to true success in life. Why? Because we are only truly successful when we are doing something we LOVE, something we are truly aligned with. A truer purpose perhaps, and one that reflects your deepest passions and personality.

Yes, authenticity is being genuine, telling the truth and saying what you mean, but it also involves integrity in all areas of one’s life and the ability to be true to one’s REAL self.

What’s radical authenticity?

There are obvious situations in life where, in order to be honest and authentic requires a great deal of strength and courage in the midst of fear, especially when it involves the opinions of others.

So for me radical authenticity is actually stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s about standing for what you think, believe and feel, even when it’s inconvenient. Even when the thought of it gets you quaking with fear!

I don’t pretend that I’m there yet. Like most of us, I want to give in to my fears and take the easy route countless times in a day, to not speak the truth because you are afraid of what someone’s response might be or what they may think of you, say or do.

“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.” – Dalai Lama

The webs we weave

We ALL have wounds and distorted beliefs about our own selves. Authenticity is looking at ourselves with growing awareness & sorting through these ‘untruths’ that have held us back from being who we truly are.

When we take the time to strip this away, we get back in touch with the individual self we were ultimately created to be. Going there takes courage and perseverance and this is such a necessary step along the journey towards wholeness and true success.

The masks we wear

Once we start stripping back these layers – how we think we should behave, what everyone expects of us, what society expects of us – the masks we wear even to ourselves, then automatically we’ll start to see and feel who we really are.

We tend to define ourselves by these created parts of ourselves, the parts that are there to make us feel a bit more powerful and in control, or a bit more desirable, stronger, or whatever it is that we feel we’re missing within ourselves, so we hold onto them for dear life!

New Age circles talk about ‘finding your true self’, but I’ve found that if you go looking as if it’s something you need to ‘find’, all you’ll find is another type of mask.

Personally, I’ve found that as I’ve let go of some of the roles, the obligations, the pressures to be a certain way, the ways of being that make others more comfortable, or that feel safer and more acceptable somehow, that I automatically start to feel more of my real self.

“Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement.” – W. Clement Stone

Are you a be-er or a do-er?

Particularly in the western world, we get so caught up in ‘doing’ and the myriad of roles we think we have to play. We’ve been taught that in order to be accepted and loved, we have to do things. So we don’t know how to just be. But in order to align to our true self and purpose, we actually have to learn how to let ourselves BE. Slow it down and create the space to be with yourself.

Aligning with true purpose

Asking ‘How well do I really know myself ?’ is a great question. We often assume that we do, but asking this with genuine curiosity can deliver surprising results. What are the reasons I’m doing what I’m currently doing with my time? Do I love what I’m doing? Does it make my heart sing? What would I be doing if I wasn’t afraid? What are my dearest values and what do I really believe in?

Purpose is a great word. It’s definition is actually the reason or meaning behind doing what we do, our intention behind it. So in order for something to be a TRUE purpose it needs to have meaning to us.

We need to really BELIEVE in it. And belief comes from the heart. If you are your authentic self you have no competition! I’m not all the way there yet, and I’m still a chronic ‘doer’, but feeling more and more of the real me feels wonderful, and requires a lot less energy!

I still occasionally ask myself the question: ‘How can I get more real & in truth with myself and move more towards living a life that is more in alignment with who I REALLY am?’ Are you prioritising your time with the things you really believe in and are aligned with?

What could you do today to get more into alignment with true purpose and make room for more of that in your life? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Sam Sundara is the creator of Holistic Mumma, a passionate writer, health coach, educator, and mum. With a background of 18 years as a natural therapist, in community services & counselling and a passion for spiritual psychology, Sam offers a holistic view to parenting & wellbeing. You can connect with her on her Facebook.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Online Essay Writers UK

    Mar 20, 2018 at 5:59 am

    Great and true post. Eminem said in his song ‘beautiful’ “God gave you them shows to fit you, so be yourself man, be proud of who you are, and even it sounds crazy, don’t let anyone tell you ‘you ain’t beautiful’. “

  2. Aaron Force

    Mar 2, 2018 at 9:08 pm

    These are really dear subjects to me, authenticity and purpose. They really are related, aren’t they? I’ve come to the same conclusion, too, that as we get closer to our Authentic Self we get closer to our purpose. Thanks for sharing— what a great article!

  3. Karin Sebelin

    Feb 27, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    Good question: “Are you a be-er or a do-er?”

    –> “We’ve been taught that in order to be accepted and loved, we have to do things. So we don’t know how to just be.”

    We should learn to be one with ourselves, with our true #purpose.

    Thank you for this wonderful inspiration.

    Best regards

    • Sam Sundara

      Mar 1, 2018 at 11:13 am

      So glad you enjoyed the article Karin. Happy ‘being’! 🙂

  4. Isaac Wechuli

    Feb 26, 2018 at 10:17 am

    Wonderful article. i also believe that conforming to the societal expectations is the number one thing that prevents us from being our true selves. Conformity eliminates authenticity because by conforming we will always try to ensure that we do what other people want us to do..Ditch the society, embrace solitude, and you will find your true self

    • Sam Sundara

      Feb 27, 2018 at 10:32 am

      Thank you for your comments Isaac. Absolutely, making time to be with yourself and stepping away from the roles and identity we often have within our community & culture to find out who we are really, underneath all those layers, can be very powerful!

  5. Gregory (Pappi) Henderson

    Feb 25, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    Great Post Sam, Our true Identity is hidden behind many masks for sure and the only path to align with our true purpose is to be happy and love ourselves first. Until we can truly love ourselves we’ll always struggle with breaking out of our comfort zone which has become a self-made prison cell for our thoughts and feelings. You have touched on some great points to meditate on and apply to how lives, really appreciate the insight 🙂

    • Sam Sundara

      Feb 26, 2018 at 9:38 am

      Thank you Pappi, glad you connected to some insights on the subject. I believe we automatically start to feel more joy & happiness once we start to become more connected to our real self, our true passions & desires and take action on them because it feels right and so satisfying to be doing what’s really in our hearts! <3

  6. Amir Ayaz

    Feb 25, 2018 at 11:08 am

    Great Article.

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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?

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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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