10 Qualities The Most Authentic People Have in Common

What makes you one?

1. They’re self-reflective.
To be authentic, unique and individual you have to know who and what you are, which comes through self-reflection. How can you know who you are if you are following everyone else?

2. They have a healthy ego.
In order to be a successful leader of others, you must do so with courage and empathy. You must be confident enough in yourself and your abilities to consider others’ feelings.

3. They focus on possibilities.
When you live authentically you have no time to waste emotion on temporary and sometimes necessary setbacks.

4. They have good character.
You do not say things you do not mean, promises are not made you cannot keep and you stay in a place of integrity in all of your dealings, in and out of work.

5. They’re visionaries.
Because you are deeply connected to yourself, you are open and more innovative. You have been visionary in the creating of yourself and this allows you to bring that skill into all aspects of your life, especially business. You also help others to realize their goals and their potential, and you push both yourself and others to reach those.

6. They’re listeners.
You are more than willing to consider contradictory ideas with an open mind and change your opinion if the argument makes sense. You are genuinely interested in learning, and you are dedicated to discovering the truth.

7. They’re transparent.
Open communication is woven into the fabric of your authenticity. You never leave anyone guessing or hurting because you’re transparent.

8. They’re open and consistent.
You do not hold judgmental attitudes towards others. As you evaluate the thoughts and opinions others hold, even those you do not agree with, you still place them under an umbrella of respect. You are true to who you are and the principles you hold and do not require another person’s approval to feel good about yourself.

9. They’re team-oriented.
You build successful teams and give credit where it is due, sharing your success and achievements with your entire team.

10. They draw upon experience.
You have learned through your own life and improved yourself in thoughtful ways.

– by Psychologist Sherrie Campbell

 

THE MYTH OF THE GOOD OL BOY AND THE NICE GAL

The good of boy myth and the nice gal are a kind of social conformity myth. They create a real paradox when put together with the “rugged individual” part of the Success Myth. How can I be a rugged individual, be my own man and conform at the same time? Conforming means “Don’t make a wave”, “Don’t rock the boat”. Be a nice gal or a good ol’ boy. This means that we have to pretend a lot. 

“We are taught to be nice and polite. We are taught that these behaviors (most often lies) are better than telling the truth. Our churches, schools, and politics are rampant with teaching dishonesty (saying things we don’t mean and pretending to feel ways we don’t feel). We smile when we feel sad; laugh nervously when dealing with grief; laugh at jokes we don’t think are funny; tell people things to be polite that we surely don’t mean.”

– John Bradshaw On: The Family

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The Good Life

“Every morning I sit at the kitchen table over a tall glass of water swallowing pills. (So my hands won’t shake.) (So my heart won’t race.) (So my face won’t thaw.) (So my blood won’t mold.) (So the voices won’t scream.) (So I don’t reach for knives.) (So I keep out of the oven.) (So I eat every morsel.) (So the wine goes bitter.) (So I remember the laundry.) (So I remember to call.) (So I remember the name of each pill.) (So I remember the name of each sickness.) (So I keep my hands inside my hands.) (So the city won’t rattle.) (So I don’t weep on the bus.) (So I don’t wander the guardrail.) (So the flashbacks go quiet.) (So the insomnia sleeps.) (So I don’t jump at car horns.) (So I don’t jump at cat-calls.) (So I don’t jump a bridge.) (So I don’t twitch.) (So I don’t riot.) (So I don’t slit a strange man’s throat.)” 

― Jeanann Verlee

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Letting Go

Last night (because it was raining the whole day with fairly strong wind and I could not go outside to walk) I decided to sort out my dressing and get rid of those items I didn’t wear for the last fifteen years. It was long overdue but it’s hard to say goodbye. What is harder is to accept the fact that I can’t get into those clothes anymore. I have gotten used to wearing the same outfits year after year with no problem at all but for the last three years, it gradually becomes a different story. I thought I was going to keep this, I will hold on to that in case I lose weight, and from there I accumulated tons of clothes I no longer needed.

But days becomes weeks and weeks turned to months and months rolled into years and still the excess weight stubbornly clings to my body in spite of my effort trying to lose it. Last year I gave up. No, I did not suddenly binge on anything in particular but I stop altering my diet, which on its own is pretty healthy already for I favor seafood rather than meat and I never had a sweet tooth to begin with and I grew up eating unprocessed food so, I still prefer them over anything that doesn’t look real. No, the problems I think lies in aging and changing hormones and there is not much I can do about that. Not that I gained a massive amount of weight since then. In fifteen years I accumulate ten kilos extra, not much you would say and I know that but accepting a sudden turn and twist in your familiar existence is much harder to digest than I expected especially if it brings certain obstacles and inconveniences like buying a whole new wardrobe. 

Speaking of wardrobes, I empty mine of five huge black bin bags full of clothes I hardly wear some of them still have tags attached. And that was only the beginning. Last year I got rid of more than that, shoes in particular. I still have a lot to say goodbye to but__ ever heard of emotional value? Yeah, good excuse to hoard I know but I am also sure that all of us are guilty of this particular sin, no use denying it.

My plan is to have a capsule wardrobe, easier said than done I know but I must have some goal if I ever want to succeed in minimalizing my closet_ consists of top-quality, long-lasting pieces brought together by intentional purchases rather than fast-fashion shopping. Clothes that fit my body and lifestyle right now instead of some fantasy image I have in my head of how I was and how I wanted to be. I also plan to shop age-appropriate items from now on. Still my style but upgraded to a more mature version, and I will supplement good timeless basics with some frivolities to stay true to myself and to keep my outfits from being bland and boring. I see it as accents, focal points, feature walls of a well-designed space.

I still have a lot to do but the project is already set in motion and the hardest part is almost over so crossing my toes and fingers here and hoping I have enough courage and perseverance to see this whole thing through.

Wish me luck!

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Fixation Problem

My ex-husband said I have a fixation problem.

To him, it means not being able to forgive and forget his deliberate mistakes and failing to turn a blind eye to his shortcomings and not shutting up about it.

In another context I would agree with him, I do have a temporary obsessive interest in something sometimes, like scarves, bags, shoes, succulents, porcelain dolls, silk flowers, and food. Luckily like happiness and the first intoxication of morphine, it doesn’t last very long. I could easily forget the obsession and move on to the next thing. 

But while I am in that obsessive state, nothing can stop me. I must and will acquire whatever the object of my desire at that moment. Which reminds me of someone accusing me of exactly the same thing but talking about people.

Anyway, the other day while watching Strictly Come Dancing I noticed that everyone wore a Remembrance Poppy brooch and I was right away interested. I saw paper versions of the same pin but these ones were different, they were proper jewelry, beautiful and shining. Looking closely, I saw that there were few varying designs, some were larger, some smaller, others had only one stem and no leaves and one was with diamonds. After scrutinizing each, I decided that I want only three and was so elated I was practically dancing around on the front of the T.V. 

Then, like a cold November shower, I suddenly came to the realization that there is no way I could have them; not those exact designs, and before I knew it I was in tears. I was so sad if my heart could break it certainly would at that moment. And I don’t even like jewelry and seldom wear any. But those pins were so cute I wanted to put them next to each other and admire them. I like to have anything that can put a smile on my face. There are not so many of those. The list is short: certain puppies, certain dolls, certain babies, birds and anything unusual.

Before the night was over, I have forgotten about the poppies already but for one short moment, they were so important to me, enough to make me cry, and I didn’t even bat an eyelash when I’d lost 2,000 dollars on a bus while on holiday and certainly didn’t shed a single tear during or after my divorce or when my parents died. 

Do I have a fixation problem? 

I don’t know.

What do you think? 

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Poems and Stories

Genuine artists talk to us about ourselves, more specifically about those parts of ourselves that we keep hidden – the strange parts, the dark parts. But these people wear their strangeness as a badge of honor, making it an important part of their identity. This is why they touch us. This is why we really want to be them. What we really envy is how open they are with their strangeness, when we are afraid. Deep down, we all know that one only becomes an individual when one stops hiding their strangeness.

– Anca Rotar  

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We’re Almost There

Countdown to Christmas… Is new year resolution still in fashion? Or Que Sera Sera is the ‘it’ approach these days? Is the thought that really counts or deep down inside everyone’s dream present is the one with the priciest tag? Me? I don’t expect anything. That way, I would save myself loads of disappointment(s)… If I have to alter something this coming year, that would be___ to learn to relax, to have a proper sleep and to get out more. Basically the same M.O. each year.

How about you?

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I Don’t Do Happy

Somewhere someone told me: “You’re too heavy to digest on a daily basis.”

It reminds me of what a reader once said to me a long time ago, that she will not recommend me for daily consumption. According to her, she didn’t yet meet someone who is constantly in a dark mood 365 days. People get depressed, have bad days, angry, hurt, grieving lonely and sad but not ceaselessly she said. In most cases, being down is an exception to the rule. Normal people are mostly happy most of the times she added. I, on the other hand, seem to have a perpetual dark cloud hanging above my head, following me everywhere and on occasions releasing torrents of rain if not thunder and lightning.

Before the revelation, I was not aware that I was projecting this kind of image out there. I thought I was just being me, relating things the way I always do: honest and straight to the point without beating around the bushes. In fact, I didn’t realize I sound pessimistic. Like in real life, I tell stories matter of factly. I never like drama nor I ever aspire to play a victim. It is simply not my way of handling things. I can’t help that my life happened the way it happened. Believe me, if I could choose, I would have chosen another path you can be sure of that.

But according to my mother-in-law, it isn’t the constant dark mood that is the problem with me because she never has seen a more well-disposed individual than I am. (She must know because we go together on a three week holiday each year.) It is those weighty/heavy conversations I seem to favor that the problem is. Most people don’t do these kinds of talks because they are often revealing, confronting and emotionally taxing. 

 I beg to disagree. 

What they call a heavy conversation is to me a chit-chat. If they want me to go shallower than that, I might as well shut up. Why spent hours talking if you have nothing sensible to say? If you are not genuinely interested in the person/people you are taking with, why pretend? Why spend time with each other? Why bother?

Anyway, I still don’t believe I really am like that. I could believe I am not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s nothing new to me but perpetually dark mood and favoring emotionally taxing conversations … no.

Again, it reminds me of yet another incident which happened again, a long time ago when people I then acquainted with said another thing which again wasn’t true.

I didn’t know anymore how it all begun and what was the reason but while sitting on a terrace looking down to a group I used to hang out with back then, I heard one of them said I have a frozen heart. Then someone chimed in: “Frozen? It would be better if her heart is only frozen so there will still be a chance of thawing it but if you ask me her heart isn’t frozen it is made of iron.” Laugher followed. Not to be outdone, another one of them stated: “Iron you said? Then my friend you are wrong. Her heart is made of concrete it is impossible to melt.” Another burst of laughter.

They were aware I was watching. They knew I was there, hearing their comments, and I believe they mean no harm and only fooling around and the remarks didn’t make me angry or hurt but it made me think though. It made me realized how wrong they were and how little did they know me.

It reminds me of what my mother said to me once upon a time. She said I am not capable of loving anyone. I don’t know if she was talking about herself because her own judgment certainly is applicable to her. My ex-husband would agree with her though because according to him I am a man-hater.

The truth is I am neither one of those they were accusing me of. I just didn’t find anyone yet worth___ how could I say it? Loving? Losing myself? Breaking my heart over with? Crying buckets full? I don’t know also on what they were basing their opinions of me. All I know is they aren’t true. And I’m getting better. There was a time I could not incorporate the world love in writing I always substitute it with aarrgh instead. And I am not terrified of colors anymore. I can stand them now on my blog. I still favor black and white or sepia but colors are no longer banned.

But still, I don’t do happy. I cannot. I don’t know where to begin.

If I say I am watching a beautiful bird and I like it, am I happy?

If I enjoy walking in the city, am I happy?

If some days I feel blessed and content, am I happy?

How do I know I am happy? What happiness feels like?

Can you tell me?

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Divorcing A Parent

“Why isn’t there a commandment to “honor thy children” or at least one to “not abuse thy children”? The notion that we must honor our parents causes many people to bury their real feelings and set aside their own needs in order to have a relationship with people they would otherwise not associate with. Parents, like anyone else, need to earn respect and honor, and honoring parents who are negative and abusive is not only impossible but extremely self-abusive. Perhaps, as with anything else, honoring our parents starts with honoring ourselves. For many adult children, honoring themselves means not having anything to do with one or both of their parents.” 

― Beverly Engel

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The Good Girl

As a girl you see the world as a giant candy store filled with sweet candy and such. But one day you look around and you see a prison and you’re on death row. You wanna run or scream or cry but something’s locking you up. Are the other folks cows chewing cud until the hour comes when their heads roll? Or are they just keeping quiet like you, planning their escape.

~ Justine

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We Are All Pinocchio

“Pinocchio went out into the world. He went on his road filled with good intentions, with a vision. He went ready to do all the things he dreamed, but he was pulled this way and that. He was distracted. He faltered. He made mistakes. But he kept on. Pinocchio, in the end, became himself — because the little flame inside him, no matter what crap he went through, would not be extinguished.” 

~Patty Smith

Seems to me even before he becomes a real boy, Pinocchio was already experiencing the reality of real life and more real than most of us. Everything that was mentioned above is characteristic of being human. I beg to disagree with this passage ” in the end, he became himself. “ In my eyes, he didn’t become, he was himself all along. He stayed true to himself no matter what without losing his core -the little flame that refused to be extinguished. When he first ventured out into the world, he was naive (recognizable?) and made poor choices and picked the wrong company and tried to get out of tricky situations by lying. We all did these in some points in our lives. If you tell me you hadn’t, then you’re lying. None of us were born aware and equipped with all the knowledge to survive in this world. We learned it as we go along stumbling and falling. In the end, like Pinocchio, we will realize who we are and where we belonged but the foundation of our true selves is already laid from the start. No amount of experience good or bad could alter our genetic makeup. It could alter the shape a bit but not the core. We are who we are and how we deal with things (attitude) shows what lies beneath. No mask and amount of lying and pretending could hide the real character of a person because eventually, it will show through his actions. I rather deal with an obnoxious person with a good heart than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

How about you?

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How to Let Go of the Need to Be Perfect

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.” – Anne Lamott

You find yourself asking, “When will what I do be enough?” You wonder, “How do I know if I’m truly happy or just settling to be comfortable?” You catch yourself constantly striving for more—more money, more stuff, more beauty, more brains, more awards. But no matter how much you get, you never know if what you desire will help you become your best self or just drive you further down the dissatisfying road of perfectionism. I know the journey of perfectionism far too well. Every once in a while, when I least expect it, my own perfectionistic motivations creep up on me. They come into play most when I’m making decisions, working, or interacting with others.

It’s that feeling you get when you expect things of yourself that you’d never expect from others. It’s working yourself to exhaustion in hopes that you’ll feel whole, complete, worthy. It’s basing your self-worth on external accomplishments, feeling like you have something to prove all the time. It’s piling on the emotions of guilt, burnout, and self-hate. It’s always coloring inside the lines and giving yourself the metaphorical whip if you screw up.

Perfectionism lives and breathes in your fear of making a mistake. When you’re afraid of what might happen, you don’t always make the best possible choices.

Instead, you limit your options because you believe you’ll be unable to handle the outcome of your choices if they happen to be negative. Allowing perfectionism to run the show is like being on a hamster wheel; you just keep going and going and going, even after you’ve reached your original goal. You increase the stakes every time so that when you do accomplish something, you wonder if you could have done it better.

Feeling and thinking this way makes perfect sense because our culture puts a ton of pressure on us to be perfect. We’re made to feel as if there’s something wrong with us if we’re still single by a certain age, don’t make a certain amount of money, don’t have a big social media following, or don’t look a certain way. In the midst of all that pressure, it’s easy to forget all the great, unique things about ourselves.

Many of the people I work with in therapy are frustrated because no matter how hard they try, they still feel like nothing they do is good enough. Even after all the external successes they’ve achieved, they still aren’t happy, and they aren’t sure why. What I find is that most of the time, their goals never came from them. When you never feel good enough in the eyes of others, it’s hard to build a strong sense of yourself. It’s difficult to know what you truly want, what ultimately fills your true purpose.

Perfectionism stays alive when you look for other people to give you worth, relying on their opinions to give you a sense of your value.

It’s deceptive because other people can’t make you feel like enough; that’s a decision you have to make for yourself. What’s enough and not enough, and how far you need to go, are more effective when they’re determined by your inner values. Needing and lacking approval and acceptance will inevitably lead you to feel that what you do is never enough; you’ll spend your life looking to do better and more.

That’s why I’m offering another way to be—an alternative to the endless cycle of looking for personal fulfillment through grand accomplishments. I want to help you put an end to the cycle of perfectionism. Knowing who you are and what you value is vital. Once you have that down, you can make the decision to be enough in every situation you face. And, in time, each situation will serve as a way to guide you toward your true self and free you from the need to be perfect.

So how do I let go of perfectionism and have a strong sense of self?

Change your mindset. Our mindset contains our ideas and views about life, which come from our previous experiences and perceptions of the world. How we look at the world influences our experience in it. Our perception becomes our reality. Creating a good-enough mindset that isn’t filled with unrealistic expectations will help you cultivate a sense of wellbeing. Therefore, the first step to feeling like you’re enough is changing your mindset and old beliefs about yourself derived from past experiences of what’s expected of you. The rest is a process of changing the idea that you need to work harder for approval and using that energy to just be enough for yourself.

Build self-reliance. You aren’t born with self-reliance, you gain it through trials and errors while you go through life making your own decisions. I started to develop confidence when I decided to think for myself and move forward with my decisions. People who act with self-reliance feel more in control of their environment, and feeling this way is an important ingredient of wellbeing. When what you do is in line with what you believe, your self-esteem and happiness grow. Being self-reliant means doing things for yourself. The more you do for yourself, the better you feel; the better you feel, the more confident you’ll become, and the less compelled you’ll feel to be perfect all the time.

Learn to let go. Try to let go of whatever it is that’s holding you back from accepting who you are. You’ll probably realize that you aren’t what other people say you are. You aren’t your pain, your past, or your emotions. It’s usually negative ideas about ourselves and hurtful self-talk that get in the way of who we really want to be and push us to never make any mistakes.

Make your own decisions. Start making your own decisions. It isn’t necessary to share every problem you encounter with everyone in your life. People do this to get advice, be told what they need to do, and pass their anxiety on to others. As you become more aware of what you want, you’ll start knowing the next step to take in your life, and you’ll recognize that nobody else has the answers. People who don’t feel good enough always look to others to make decisions for them. You know just as much as everyone else; in fact, you know more than others do about what’s right for you.

Remember, you can’t hate your way into accepting yourself. Convincing yourself of what a failure you are will never make any situation better, and repeating to yourself that you’ll never live up to your potential certainly won’t lead you to reach it. It’s important for you to remember that you are enough just as you are—and I promise, the more you practice it, the more you’ll believe it.

Make peace with the “now” before you feel satisfied with the “later.”We can’t feel totally satisfied with where we’re going until we can accept, acknowledge, and appreciate where we are. Make peace with where you are, and your journey toward something new will feel much more peaceful, rewarding, and satisfying.

Do you methodically look for evidence that you’re a nobody, that you don’t deserve acceptance, or that you aren’t living up to your potential? If so, I know how demoralizing and demeaning it can be. It will better serve you to focus on progress rather than perfection and on how far you’ve come instead of how far you have left to go.

One of the biggest pushes towards perfectionism is the need to always “get it right.” We strive for perfection and huge successes, and when we fall short, we feel worthless. What we don’t seem to realize is that working toward our goals and being willing to put ourselves out there are accomplishments within themselves. Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back for trying, making progress, and coming as far as you have.

By Ilene S. Cohen, Ph.D.

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