By Dr. Bev
Living in a fast-paced world full of technology makes it easy to become distracted from
what drives us. For those of us that work in careers where we help others live better lives, it is easy to start to disconnect from our own authenticity. We usually do this as we grow tired, become overworked and sometimes feel undervalued. When this happens, the energy we have to offer to everyone around us, including ourselves, is not coming from an aligned and centered place. Living authentically is not stagnant: it is constantly shifting and taking on new forms. If we truly believe in living an authentic life, then we must continually be learning about ourselves, challenging old beliefs, sorting through our baggage. It is about learning to
face fears and doubts, to be able to reach deeply within ourselves to find out what makes our heart sing, our spirit soar. It is finding where our authentic self feels the most alive, free and
unburdened — and then having the courage to live from this place.
Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Ideas for bringing authenticity into the new year:
1. Know yourself. Connect with the fire inside your heart through quiet reflection, meditation or prayer. Consult the wisdom of Scripture and devotional reading when you are faced with important choices or decisions. We all know ourselves to a certain degree. Some of us tune out what we don’t want to hear. If we don’t know ourselves enough to understand what is important to us, then it’s time to dig deeper. Grab a pen and start making lists of what is meaningful in your life. Here is a writing idea: If you could fill your life with anything you wanted regardless of time or money constraints what would those things be? Now, take a look at the list and find at least one thing that you can do to help you become happier and feel more fulfilled. Doing this will connect with your own sense of deep, inner knowing. Rely more on it and less on your mind as your compass. The mind is overrun by ego, whereas your own innate sense of knowing that comes from faith and trust in God’s goodness, will provide uncensored feelings about relationships and who you really are at your core.
2. Identify your crutches. And then let go of them! I know that food is a crutch in my life. I know I would be better all around and certainly even look better if I stopped eating so much whenever I need comfort or consolation. So why do I continue this behavior? I’m working on that! Wouldn’t it be nice to feel and look better and be more in control? So, what is it you use as a crutch and how can you stop? What would it feel like to stop using that crutch? (Think caffeine or nicotine or drinking to excess or any one of the other addictions.) At the same time, let go of patterns and relationships that no longer serve you. Let go of unnecessary guilt and anxiety. Surround yourself with those who love you, believe in you and want the best for you.
3. Build awareness and listen to yourself think. Become aware of all that is around you. What are the sights, sounds, smells and feelings around you? Notice the inherent goodness in all things; ignore the rest. See the true nature of things and go beyond to accurate perceptions that may produce fear. Once we have seen the true nature of the object of any fear, our fear will vanish. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist monk, states “by looking deeply at each other we can see each other’s concerns and aspirations, but we can also see each other’s fears, suffering and loneliness”. Find others to connect with and see the good in them and the good they do in the world. This is a blessing, to see the Christ presence in all that surrounds us… even those who disturb us from time to time! And don’t forget to notice the patterns of where your thoughts go time and time again. This is a clue into you, the deep down authentic you. Turn away from the distractions. Be in the present moment and be with yourself as you move through your daily activities, and notice what comes up when your mind is not distracted. Living through the pandemic, we have opportunity to get unplugged and go deeply within. We can look at it as a gift; this is truly a time of possibility.
4. Do things you love. It’s easy to make excuses about why we can’t make the time for things we love to do. Stop that right now! If you love reading, go read a book. If you love gardening, put on a sun hat and go out to the garden to putter. Or head for the Dollar Store to see what new gadget is just what you’ve been looking for. We need to give ourselves a break, and that’s what this time of social distancing is all about – finding time to be with you. One of the things you might find is the inner resolution to face healing any past wounds that crop now and then. You may find that expressing your inner joy and doing things you love has been suppressed by childhood conditioning and this is the time when you can move beyond that. Recognize that you have resources today as an adult you didn’t have as a child and you don’t have to live today because of something done or said to you many years ago. Let go of what is inhibiting your fullest expression and live out of today’s faith and hope that you are
okay just the way you are! Do things you love!
John 15:16: “You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.”
5. Help someone else. There is no better way to lift your spirits and become more authentic than to provide service to someone else. Read the above verse from John again – and try breathing into this and see what happens: I choose you (forgiveness). I choose you (gratitude). I choose you (forgiveness). This is suggested by Rev. Jacquie Fernandez who is a Bible geek and regularly responds to requests for Bible interpretation. When we choose to deliberately make someone else’s day a little brighter by choosing them, whether by text, phone or a hand written message, we experience God’s love in our core and elevate our own sense of being. When we reach out to others, we immerse ourselves in a greater experience of love, peace, abundance and wellness. Forgiveness, meditation and gratitude are three key tools to fulfilling the desire for more love in our lives as well as connectedness, and, more importantly, to bear fruit that lasts. You can bear fruit by helping someone else! And an added bonus is you become the greatest service to those you love when you are happy and well.
6. Free your spirit and tap into your strength. Sing, dance, play, stretch, love, make music, create art, breathe, laugh and cry! The world wants you to be joyous. Everyone who loves you in this world and beyond, wants you to succeed. Your thoughts are all that is limiting you. Try this: track your negative thoughts and say out loud: “I cancel that thought!” and then think hard to replace it with a positive thought that will change both your emotions and your behaviors. Make up an affirmation that is the opposite of negative thinking, such as one of the following: “I am strong”, “I can do this”, “I am beautiful”, “I am healthy”, etc., etc. Find an affirmation that resonates with you and becomes a prayer that can change your life by claiming all that God promises. In Matthew 9:29 we read “If you have faith and do not doubt… it will be done.” You can believe this. This is deep inner work that provides freer expression of your ‘self’ – there is no better time to do this work when you have time away from all the
distractions of the world because we living in the time of a pandemic.
7. Spend time outside. The idea that spending time in nature can make you feel better is intuitive. We all feel this to be true, and many of us have anecdotes of our own or from friends or family that support that idea. People who have been suffering from stress, sickness, or a trauma can spend quiet contemplative time in gardens or taken to the mountains or woods to heal. But nature is not just wilderness. The benefits of nature can also be found in our communities’ parks and green spaces. We need to connect back to the cycles of nature: the moon, the sun, the seasons, the sounds of birds, etc. Get up early one day and enjoy a sunrise yoga practice. Spend quiet time in a garden. Meditate outdoors if you can. Let your body soak up sunlight and vitamin D. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of how connected to nature we truly are. Researchers are amassing a body of evidence, proving what we all know to be true: nature is good for us and has both long and short term mental and physical health benefits.
8. Find your motivation to open your mind.
"People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily." - Zig Ziglar
First, in order to make it possible for you to embrace new ideas by opening your mind, it's important to motivate yourself to try new things. Why do you want to become more open?
Are you committed to it? Are you willing to take action to make it happen? Then, you must choose areas to develop.
"Personal development is the belief that you are worth the effort, time and energy needed to develop yourself." - Denis Waitley
Which areas of your life do you want to open up to new ideas? A simple example would be if you find that you're eating the same things all the time, perhaps you'd like to try some variation in your menu. To get your mind used to the idea, try at least one new food or recipe each week. It's a simple and realistic approach! You could start with one small area to open up to new ideas, and then gradually include more areas of your life. Starting small can help you ease into having an open mind, instead of making a sudden, drastic change in your life.
These tips will help you become more open to new ideas:
1. Fight the urge to react in anger when you hear differing opinions. Instead, take a moment to yourself to find the wisdom to understand that everyone will not hold the same opinions as you. Try to put yourself in the other person's shoes and see things their way.
2. Avoid closing yourself off. Welcome new situations that are different from those you're familiar with. When you're exposed to differing opinions, look at them as learning experiences.
3. Place yourself out of your comfort zone. Make the effort to journey out of your comfort zone often. If you have certain anxieties about new situations, you should still take this step, but make these changes slowly. Go to new places and try new things.
4. Stay social and make new friends. You'll find that you're more likely to discover new opportunities to try new things when you stay social. Your friends might be trying new things that they can introduce you to as well. Also, when you make a new friend, they'll likely have a unique set of interests for you to learn about to broaden your horizons.
5. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes the only way to learn more about a certain situation and keep an open mind is to ask a lot of questions to gain a better understanding. While you don't want to intrude on some