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How to Live Authentically for a More Meaningful and Rewarding Life

Embrace your truth through values-driven actions



living authentically
Image Credit: Midjourney

Do you ever find yourself caught in the whirlwind of daily life, juggling responsibilities and racing against the clock, only to hit pause and wonder, ‘Is this aligning with who I really am?

I’ve been there myself – stuck in a tug-of-war between my actions and what I value most.

When life’s demands pull us in many different directions, it’s easy to lose sight of what matters. Yet, there is a fundamental connection between authenticity and behaving in ways that honor our deeply held ideals when pursuing a meaningful and rewarding life.

What it Means to Live Authentically

Living authentically requires a concerted effort to understand, appreciate, and express your core principles. As we navigate the complexities of our personal and professional lives, the question of how we can live in harmony with our sincere intentions and guarantee that our decisions and actions genuinely reflect our convictions arises.

Your values guide your decisions, behaviors, and overall approach to life. These foundational beliefs and ideals shape your perceptions, influence your interactions with the environment, and range widely from honesty and compassion to innovation and freedom.

They sum up who you are and what you stand for, operating as a distinctive fingerprint, differentiating one person from another among diverse perspectives, and serving as the foundation for establishing your identity.

Your behaviors’ alignment (or misalignment) with your ideals contributes significantly to your sense of self. When you live your principles deliberately, you create a strong and consistent identity representing your character. 

On the contrary, misalignment can cause internal turmoil, emptiness, or the sense that something essential is missing.

Exploring how personal values shape identity involves recognizing ethics and beliefs that resonate strongly within you, understanding their origins, and accepting them as vital parts of your story. 

Aligning your behaviors with these values allows you to cultivate a more authentic version of yourself and positively contribute to the communities and relationships you interact with.

Identifying your values requires introspection and self-reflection to discover the beliefs that resonate most strongly with you.

“When we choose to live authentically we chip away at others prisons of pretend and create an opportunity for them to walk out of darkness into freedom.” — Anthony Venn-Brown

3 Ways to Identify Your Core Values

Reflect on Meaningful Experiences

Consider times when you felt utterly fulfilled, satisfied, or proud. These occurrences frequently correspond to your core values. 

Think about the circumstances, behaviors, and feelings associated with such experiences. Whether it’s a personal accomplishment, a meaningful relationship, or a problematic situation in which you displayed resilience, these experiences provide significant insights into what matters most to you.

Examine Your Reactions to Others

Take note of the characteristics or behaviors of others that elicit strong reactions, whether favorable or adverse. These emotional reactions can reveal information about the ideals you hold dear. 

For example, if you admire someone for their honesty, you may consider integrity a notable value. If, on the other hand, you experience discomfort when confronted with dishonesty, this may indicate the importance of truthfulness in your value system.

Prioritize and Define

Once you’ve identified potential values, prioritize them based on their significance. Consider how each value contributes to your sense of fulfillment and purpose. 

Spend some time articulating and defining what each value means to you. If “family” is a value, determine which aspects of family life are most important: connection, support, or shared experiences.

Actively participating in these reflection exercises enables you to peel back the layers of your values and better understand the guiding principles in your life. 

Be mindful that personal beliefs might change; reflecting regularly ensures that you remain true to yourself.

Benefits of Aligning Values & Behaviors

When you make intentional decisions that align with your beliefs, you develop deep contentment from living according to your convictions. This consistency fosters a sense of purpose that extends beyond everyday duties, guiding your personal and professional decisions. 

Aligning behaviors with personal beliefs is also closely linked to greater mental and emotional well-being. Creating cohesion between the two can reduce stress and promote emotional resilience, as opposed to the inner turmoil that can result when your actions contradict your convictions. 

Those who stay true to their principles often enjoy more inner peace and mental stability, laying the groundwork for successfully handling life’s obstacles.

Challenges of Embracing Authentically

Despite the numerous advantages, the path to living authentically has challenges. Common roadblocks include cultural constraints, self-doubt, and the fear of being judged.

External demands from family, peers, or societal pressures might occasionally conflict with your beliefs, causing internal conflict.

Setting clear boundaries and communicating openly with others can help manage expectations and encourage a more supportive environment. 

It’s also important to remember that societal norms are changeable, and life frequently involves challenging and adapting them over time.

Welcoming vulnerability and fearlessly expressing your genuine nature, especially in the face of societal expectations, can lead to personal liberation and pave the way for a more honest and satisfying existence.

10 Signs You’re Out of Alignment with Your Values

When your actions deviate from what truly matters to you, it can lead to unease and discontent. If you find yourself questioning whether you’re living in alignment with your core values, here are some signs to look for:

Persistent Discontent: A lingering feeling of dissatisfaction or unhappiness despite external success may indicate a misalignment with your values. If achievements don’t bring fulfillment, it’s time to explore if they resonate with what you truly value.

Conflict in Decision-Making: Difficulty in making decisions can be a red flag. If you often feel torn between choices and struggle to prioritize, it might indicate a lack of clarity about your core values guiding those decisions.

Lack of Passion: If you’ve lost the enthusiasm and passion you once had for your pursuits, it’s worth reflecting on whether your current path aligns with what ignites your inner fire.

Feeling Drained: Constant fatigue and feeling emotionally or physically drained may suggest that your daily activities are not in harmony with your values, leading to energy depletion.

Strained Relationships: If you notice increasing tension or dissatisfaction in your relationships, it could be a sign that your actions and behaviors are not aligning with the values you hold dear, impacting your connections with others.

Identity Crisis: Feeling a disconnect between who you are and how you present yourself to the world may signal a misalignment with your core values. Authenticity thrives when actions align with beliefs.

Time Feels Wasted: Regularly feeling like you’re wasting your time or talents on activities that don’t contribute to your sense of purpose may indicate a misalignment with your values.

Ignoring Inner Voice: If you consistently disregard your intuition or that inner voice nudging you towards a particular path, it could be a sign that your actions are out of sync with your true self.

Health Issues: Chronic stress or health problems might be physical manifestations of the internal conflict between your actions and your values. Your body often reacts when there’s a misalignment between the mind and behaviors.

Comparison Trap: Constantly comparing yourself to others or feeling pressured to meet external expectations may signify living by standards that don’t align with your core values.

Recognizing these signs is the first step toward transformation. It’s an opportunity to reflect on your choices, reassess your priorities, and make intentional changes that bring you closer to a life that resonates with your authentic self.

In a society that often imposes expectations and conventions, demonstrating authenticity becomes almost rebellious. But your values will lead you toward a purposeful and fulfilled life. 

By embracing your ideals, you catalyze positive change, inspiring those around you to do the same. It becomes more than a personal accomplishment; it is your unique gift to others, setting an example for self-acceptance and genuine connection.

Kiwana Hall is a certified life and mindset coach. In her coaching business, My Purpose Project, she works with female leaders who are burnt out, unfulfilled, and in need of change to create a unique blueprint for finding balance and fulfillment in their personal and professional lives.

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