Happiness can look like a lot of different things to a lot of different people but the one thing we all have in common is: in order to find true happiness, we must live authentically.
Again and again I hear from people who are discontented with their lives. Repeatedly, it comes back to a misalignment between the way they are living their life, externally, and their truest self, internally.
Having our authenticity questioned can feel like an attack, but if you find that you (like most of us) aren’t living authentically, it’s not your fault. Lack of authenticity is different than being “fake”. It isn’t a conscious decision to veer from our genuine selves, or deceive others, it’s a learned response and survival mechanism, to fit into and become a respected member of, society. This misalignment with our authenticity expresses itself in many ways.
Here are 5 signs that you aren’t living your most authentic life:
- You are resentful of family/friends
Resentment of others is a sign that you aren’t being true to yourself. When we resent others, it’s usually our own behavior or outlook that needs to be adjusted. A common trigger for resentment is when you do something for someone else that you don’t want to do. Whether they asked you to do it, or you decided to take it upon yourself to “help them out” – if you feel resentful toward them afterward, it’s a sign that a boundary is being crossed.
- You’re stressed about getting older
While it’s natural to feel a little bit stressed when your birthday roles around. These feelings of angst are elevated in those of us who aren’t at peace with where we are in our lives. If you are living your most authentic life, you are less concerned about these milestones as they pass. On the other hand, if you are putting off what you wish you were really doing with your life, you are much more likely to feel a hit of anxiety when you are reminded how much time has passed. When we aren’t living authentically, aging is just yet another reminder that we aren’t where (or who) we expected we would be.
- Each day feels like it takes a lot of effort
There’s a special kind of exhaustion that comes with not living your truth. The more we fall out of alignment with who we really are and what we really want, the more internal friction we experience on a day-to-day basis. On the flip side, when we allow ourselves to do things that light us up and excite us, we are surprised how much we can fit into a day, and still have energy left over. Living inauthentically, or out of alignment with your true self is draining and can leave you feeling depleted, even when you haven’t done all that much.
- You’re always anticipating the next milestone
Before I even get into this one, I want to acknowledge that this way of life is thrust so fiercely upon us, that if you don’t live life in this way, you are in a lucky minority. From a young age we are taught to look ahead to the next big milestone. We eagerly anticipate graduations, promotions, weddings, and so on. We are so distracted by accomplishing the goals that others have set for us that we can go decades without questioning where our goals came from.
- Something feels “off”
Having the feeling that something is “off” about your life, but not knowing why you aren’t happy is frustrating, and incredibly common. People respond to this feeling in a few different ways. Some people numb, by throwing themselves into their work or overindulging in alcohol and drugs. Others chase power and status, using titles, or a fancy new car (house, spouse, etc.) to compensate for the sense of uncertainty or lack that they feel. Others, still, will throw everything out and start over altogether, hoping that a huge change like quitting their job to travel the world will solve this feeling of void.
If you identified with any of the 5 signs above, take this as an invitation to get to know yourself and bring more authenticity into your life. The good news is that there is no rush. Don’t let this be another reason to criticize yourself. You don’t need to change your entire life, overnight. In fact, that would be counterproductive.
Rather than trying to pivot or make a big change, put your energy into getting to know your true self, better.
Learn to get out of the habit of thrusting things onto yourself and instead foster a sense of curiosity. You have a real opportunity to change your life here. If you’d like some help getting started with this process, check out my free authenticity guide.