The first time I heard someone talk about 'living an authentic life' I was sitting in the audience of The Landmark Forum. This concept was new to me. I had not yet begun my coach training, and this whole idea of living one's truth was foreign. What do you mean live my truth? I am who I am. Right?

Fast forward three long days and one Tuesday night (the length of the Forum) and I have a totally new perspective on what it means to live authentically. It's about removing the mask we all hide behind to conceal our fears, imperfections, weaknesses and shortcomings.

We hide behind this mask to save ourselves from the perceived pain of being honest and vulnerable. Somewhere we learned that by sharing how we really feel, expressing what we really think, acting the way we really are, we would not be accepted, liked or valued. That who we are wasn't good enough. So we'd need to become someone more acceptable to society, hence the mask.

For me, I was always too big and loud. I spoke too loud, laughed too loud, lived too loud. I was constantly being told to be quiet, lower your voice, calm down! The mask I wore for so many years (and honestly still do at times) was that of a person who didn't want to create any attention for herself. I would not speak up in class for fear I would be wrong and everyone would look at me. I would avoid at all cost being the center of attention and expressing my opinion.

It's hard to believe it now, especially if you know me, but it took a lot of work to learn how to love myself enough to honor who I am and trust that what I have to say and share with the world is worthy of being heard. It's actually why I am here.

The secret I will share with you that took me a long time to figure out is that the thing you are wanting most to hide behind your mask is the thing that makes you who you are. It's your brilliance, your gift, your uniqueness. It is your authentic self. (Pause for a moment here and consider that).

My energy, my 'bigness/loudness' (are those real words?) is what makes me ME. I tell it like it is. I'm not afraid (anymore) to share my voice about things I am passionate about. My poor husband has to pull back sometimes when I am sharing something I am really excited about. My energy gets very big. I used to shy away from that, for fear that others would think negatively about me, that I was showing off or something, but now I know it is part of my gift to the world.

Like Marianne Williamson said "Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you."

We have talked about values and the importance of honoring them. How they serve as a compass pointing out what it means to be authentic and true to one's self. One of my core values is self-expression. When I am able to express myself freely I am joyfully living authentically from my heart. I am connected to Source and life flows like a gentle river.

On the other hand if I am unable to express myself freely I feel trapped, imprisoned even. It's as if I am not myself. To be fully expressed is a skill I teach my clients. It's a piece of my purpose. Are you getting the picture?

Your Personal Development Assignment:

OK it's your turn. What are you hiding behind your mask?
What don't you want other people to find out about you?

  • Do you pretend to have it all figured out, yet you haven't got a clue?
  • Are you really very sensitive but you were taught as a young boy not to show your emotions?
  • Or perhaps you are very strong and competent yet those qualities were not acceptable behavior for a young girl?
  • Are you hiding a soft vulnerable side of you?
  • Are you a closet artist or politician or healer?

What is your heart's desire? The freedom you will feel by removing this mask and owning your authenticity will catapult you in the direction of living the life you were born to live . . . with ease!

This process takes time so be gentle with your SELF. And for those of you who are thinking, "What is she taking about? I don't hide behind a mask!" You are the ones who need this the most. You so identify with your "mask persona" that you don't even recognize your authentic self.

We are each unique in our own special way. Yet we conform to the ways of society to fit in. We owe it to ourselves, and the world to discover our uniqueness and live it with authenticity and grace.

These steps will help begin the process.

1. Drape a dark cloth (or mask if you have one) over your face. I know it sounds silly, do it anyway. Take a few deep breaths, and sit for a minute or two activating your inner wisdom.

2. Ask yourself:

  • "What is my mask hiding from the world?"
  • "If I were to remove my mask what most scares me that others would see?
  • "What are my gifts that I am not sharing?"

Now just sit back and listen to what comes up for you. Whatever it is allow it in, even if at first it makes no sense. Journal about it. Set the intention that you would like some clarity around living more authentically and see how the Universe shows up to support you.

Yesterday one of my mentors shared this poem. It fits perfectly with this conversation so I will follow suit and share it with you:

One and Only You

Every single blade of grass,
And every flake of snow,
Is just a wee bit different...
There's no two alike, you know.

From something small like grains of sand,
To each gigantic star
All were made with this in mind,
To be just what they are!

How foolish then, to imitate,
How useless to pretend!
Since each of us comes from a mind
Whose ideas never end.

There'll only be just one of me;
To show what I can do
And you should likewise feel very proud,
There's only one of you.

That is where it all starts
With you, a wonderful unlimited human being.

By James T. Moore

Author's Bio: 

Author's Bio
Aimee Yawnick has been mentoring women to make personal growth and development a priority for over 15 years. First, in the Health and Fitness Industry, now as a Personal Life Coach. With proven tools and systems Aimee helps her clients move swiftly and smoothly from a life of just going through the motions and merely existing to being an active participant and living life to the fullest!

If you are a highly motivated and results-oriented woman who understands the value of developing your SELF, and you are ready to accelerate your personal growth in order to play a BIGGER GAME in your personal and professional life, contact Aimee at cashmerecoaching.com now.