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Be Authentic, Be Inspirational!A Practical Guide to Help You Live a More Authentic Life
By Tara Wilken
Balboa PressCopyright © 2012 Tara Wilken
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDiscover Your Authenticity
As you begin to find and embrace your authentic self, you will find there are aspects of your personality that can be brought to the surface and that you want to incorporate into your life.
Are you rationalizing right now; "I have too many responsibilities; I could not possibly take that risk!" Are you thinking; "Who am I to be able to jump off that metaphorical ledge and pursue my dreams?" Fear is a powerful inhibitor. It holds individuals back from achieving greatness. It hampers the ability to live authentically; it conditions the mind to start to believe in the fear of failure and fear of ridicule.
If you cannot see beyond the ledge of fear, how can you live a truly authentic life? If you are too afraid to live as authentically as possible, how can you encourage your children and others to live their own authentic lives?
What limitations have been placed on you that convince you your dreams and authenticity no longer matter? Who has placed those limitations on you? Family? Friends? Society? Yourself? Allow yourself to recognize and acknowledge some of those limitations. Then begin to be willing to entertain the idea that those limitations can be removed as part of your journey.
Most misconceptions about changing your life to become who you are meant to be are based in fear. All limitations seem overwhelming to tackle and none can be addressed in a single day. Therefore, it makes sense to work on the smallest or most accessible limitations first.
The first couple of years that I started realizing I could cultivate my adult life into one of joy and love, of being me—a unique person—it never crossed my mind that I would become confident enough to leap off metaphorical ledges.
By taking small steps to the metaphorical ledge the realization of being able to conquer those ledges becomes easier and not so scary after all. The fear never completely goes away; in fact, some fear is healthy. Nothing beats the accomplishment of conquering a particular fear, even if you are the only one who knows about it.
Every person creates his or her own journey within the greater whole of humanity. As you embark on your life's journey, remember that no two paths will ever be identical. Be wary of the assumption that because you are not a public figure, you have no effect on the greater whole. As you positively change one item in your life that may seem insignificant to you, someone else may notice the change and realize they have the ability to change as well. By being yourself, you will inspire authenticity in others.
If each person changes a little at a time, changing seems less overwhelming. As those small changes accumulate, every person becomes more of his or her authentic self. As you walk the journey to becoming your authentic self, you must remember to appreciate the journey as well. It is easy to get caught up in the end goal. However, by only focusing on the final destination, you may forget your achievements, your progress, and your curiosity along the way. If you start to value the journey just as much as the ultimate goal, you automatically lead a more abundant life.
Consider, for example, a parent making a cake for his or her child's birthday party. By only focusing on having a perfect cake, they miss the journey of making the cake. Maybe the child wanted to help grease and flour the pan. Perhaps the child got flour everywhere. The goal-oriented parent may have missed the opportunity to be present in the situation and laugh, even while knowing that more clean-up would be needed. How many special moments filled with laughter will you miss if you only focus on the finished project and not the journey?
As a society, we also tend to think of success as an end goal. There is still a widely recognized perception of growing up, getting married, buying a house, and having kids as signatures of success. This definition may be accurate for some though others may have a completely different notion of success. It is most important to embrace the journey that you are on and to have the journey define who you are.
You have to decipher what defines success for you. If you strive to be just like your neighbors, are you truly living up to your own potential or authenticity? On the other hand, are you holding yourself to someone else's standards? I would rather be enthusiastic about being my authentic self than be miserable in trying to conform to someone else's ideals.
Below is the first encounter in the book. This encounter aims to help you define what success is for you. Answer the questions the best you can. Do not worry about constructing the perfect answer. The answers you create for this encounter will be referenced and expanded upon in a later chapter of the book.
* * *
Materials needed: Writing Instrument, paper or computer. Write down the answers to the following questions:
* What is your definition of success?
* If you had no limitations, placed on you by your family, by society, by yourself, what would your life look like?
* Who would you become as an individual?
* What would you create in your ideal life?
* What is truly important to you?
Chapter TwoFind Your Daily Treasure
Every moment you have some awareness what is happening around you. If you increase your awareness, the moment becomes even more vibrant and worthwhile. You may begin to perceive events differently and become more appreciative to what is happening. You actually experience being in the moment in a much more engaged role!
The more present you are in any given moment, the more authenticity you bring out in yourself. As you experience the moment as it is happening, you begin to appreciate the smaller things that can make your day more enjoyable. Every day there is something to smile about, something to bring you laughter, something for which to be grateful.
Perhaps you have become complacent in where life has taken you. You may have forgotten that you used to be curious; you used to find wonder and excitement in the simplest of things. You may feel you have become too old and cynical to find time to enjoy your life. Life is meant to be enjoyed and cherished! There are times that living your life on autopilot is beneficial. However if you only rely on a repetitive routine, you miss discovering the exceptional existence around you!
Remember the first day of a new job? Everything is new, the people were new, and the place was new. Finding your cubicle and the bathroom were a challenge. The culture was different; meetings were conducted differently than to what you were accustomed. You come home utterly exhausted, although chances are you did not actually accomplish a lot of work that day. Your exhaustion came from being consciously aware of everything! You were trying to process and absorb all of the new information. Although you were tired, chances are you also felt some excitement about the new job. You may have already started thinking about all the things you could change and improve on. Your curiosity was probably peaked about some function you had had not seen before.
All of these states and emotions happen when you are more aware. As you begin your journey, there might be times when you feel tired—allow yourself to! You are embarking on path that has excitement, growth, and curiosity along the way. As a child, you did not stop exploring because you had gotten tired the day before. You rested and got up the next day to discover something new. Think of becoming your authentic self through the eyes of a child. Children constantly ask questions and seek answers; part of your journey is to be willing to ask yourself some deep questions, listen to the answers, and integrate them into your life.
The following encounter was created to help you increase your awareness and to realize that even in mundane routine there is something to be discovered. Part of increasing your awareness can be as easy as visualizing the desired outcome.
Intentions do not have to be complicated. Simply stating what you expect or want to happen is sufficient. You can say your intention aloud or if you would rather think it to yourself. Do whatever feels the most comfortable for you.
* * *
1. During your commute to work for one week, set the intention to see something before you reach your destination that will make you smile, laugh, or be grateful.
* Maybe you notice a unique Purple house or a family of ducklings or funny license plate or you notice something else entirely.
* It does not matter if you have been driving the same route for thirty years, three years, three days there will be something new for you to discover.
2. Record the answers to the following questions:
* What did you notice?
* How did noticing it make you feel?
* Did smiling or laughing before you got to work help to start your workday in more relaxed manner?
* Was it easier to deal with problems at work if you were already grateful for something in the morning?
* If nothing seemed to change by smiling or laughing before getting to work, what is one thing that you can do to improve your work situation? (Remember you have control over how you react to any given situation.)
* What other places in your life could you use this expanded awareness?
Note: If you do not have a regular commute to work, you can do the same encounter on a route to the grocery store, or anywhere else where you have a routine.
* * *
Being More Productive by Becoming More Aware
You can use your new, acute awareness to help becoming more productive in your daily life. The more you focus on one task or project at a time, the better the ultimate result will be. As a society, we have become experts in saying, "I am a great multitasker", when in reality, we are fracturing ourselves beyond our limits.
If you are attending a conference call, checking e-mail, replying to an instant message, updating a different document other than what the meeting is about, you are not really present in the meeting. You probably have attended conference calls when someone was asked a question but they did not hear the question because they were multitasking. In order to answer, they needed the question repeated and the background information restated. Maybe you were even the person 'caught' multitasking.
If this occurs more than a couple of times in a meeting or happens continually in meetings, there is actually a loss of productivity. How much time is wasted by having to repeat background information or questions for multitaskers?
Let us consider a simple example. If an hour-long meeting has two questions that need to be reiterated because of someone not paying attention and if each re-asked questions takes about two minutes, that is a total of four minutes lost in that hour. This may not seem like a lot of time. However, if we take a few steps further the loss of time becomes more apparent. If this happens in two meeting a day, we now are at eight minutes a day. Moreover, if this happens all week, forty minutes in the week have now been spent on covering questions that could have been answered the first time if people were aware and present in the meeting. Forty minutes is probably enough to complete another task on your to do list!
The following encounter challenges you to attend a meeting and refrain from multitasking. If you are unable to make it through the meeting without multitasking that is okay, be patient with yourself. You are challenging a habit that you may have had for a long time.
* * *
1. The next time you attend a meeting set the intention that you will be present in the meeting and refrain from multitasking. For your first attempt, it might be easier to pick a meeting that is only scheduled for a half hour or an hour.
2. After the meeting is over, record your answers to the following questions.
* How was your grasp on the topic different then when you multitask?
* Did you feel more connected to content?
* What did you notice about other attendees in the meeting?
* Were you more relaxed or more anxious after the meeting was over?
* Would you try being present again and refraining from multitasking? Why or why not?
* * *
If you work environment is conducive to new suggestions or changes try the following advanced encounter, the next time you facilitate a meeting.
* * *
1. Think about a meeting where you would like to try to have everyone present and aware of the meeting.
2. Decide why having everyone refrain from multitasking is important for this meeting.
3. At the meeting of your choosing, ask everyone to be fully present in the meeting. Request that they limit or refrain from multitasking.
4. Be honest about the reason you are asking for this change.
* Perhaps you only have a short amount of time, as if you were doubled booked. Alternatively, maybe you are just curious to see if the meeting will be more efficient. Or that you are reading this book and you want to complete every single encounter. Whatever your reason is, allow the people in the meeting to understand why you are attempting this change.
5. After the meeting is over, think about the following questions. Record your answers if you chose to.
* Was the meeting more effective? Why or why not?
Were people more engaged with the meeting or the discussion? Why or why not?
* Would you attempt this at another meeting in the future? Why or why not?
Ask others for their feedback about how the meeting went.
Note: Choose a meeting with attendees who will be the most receptive to this change. An emergency meeting may not be the best time to tell people to stop instant messaging.
If there was no noticeable difference, that is okay. Maybe you picked a meeting where there is already minimal multitasking or perhaps the group was not ready to change. It may take a few more attempts with the same group to see a change. Hold on to the possibility that there may be a change next time. If you believe your efforts will fail again, they will. It is your awareness of the possibility of something better that will help create it.
* * *
Increasing Awareness to Be Present in the Moment
Multitasking is not the only thing that takes your awareness away from the present. If all of your energy is spent reviewing a past incident or planning a future event, you also forget to embrace the journey of the present.
Maybe you had a hectic morning and did not accomplish everything you wanted to before you left for work. If you are busy rehashing everything you do not accomplish, you might miss a gorgeous sunrise on your way to work. If you are planning a future event and are preoccupied in the details, you might miss how a loved one has rearranged their schedule in order to be with you at the event. If you miss something in the present because your awareness was preoccupied, allow yourself to be okay with missing the present. It is important to strive for balance, not necessarily perfection, in your life, as you become your authentic self. If your balance is off, allow it to be—chastising yourself serves no productive purpose.
Sometimes your worst critic is you. Telling yourself that you should give up because you did not complete a task perfectly does not serve a productive place in your life's growth. If you are not willing to grow, how can you expect others in your life to grow?
In order to change and become more aware, you must permit the self-judging part of yourself to take a very long vacation!
The self-criticizer plays into our fears and insecurities. It may come through as the voice that says, You cannot do this or You already tried this it did not work before. When you allow that self-judgment to prevail, you are not living up to your potential. If everyone caved into their self-doubt, the world would be missing some amazing inventions, and most importantly, some amazing individuals.
Losing your inner critic will not happen overnight; you did not become critical of yourself overnight either. Allow yourself to take small steps toward eliminating the judgments of your inner critic. Acknowledge with gratitude whenever you do a task and your critic does not reprimand you. You will begin to see the benefit of letting your critic fade away.
Chapter ThreeWhat You Wear Matters (and It Is Not What You Think!)
Colors play a significant role in your life and yet most people are unaware of their significance. Colors can help you feel more balanced balance you; the more balanced you are, the more able you are to embrace your authentic self.
Colors balance you by supporting your chakra system. Chakras are wheels of spinning light energy that balance you energetically, emotionally and spiritually. "The word chakra comes from the ancient Sanskrit and means 'wheels of light.'" Chakras balance you energetically, emotionally and spiritually. Every person has seven main chakras that run from the base of the spinal column to the top of the head. Chakras are never completely closed; even the most out of balance chakra has at least a pinhole of energy flowing into it.
Excerpted from Be Authentic, Be Inspirational! by Tara Wilken Copyright © 2012 by Tara Wilken. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Discover Your Authenticity....................1
Chapter 2: Find Your Daily Treasure....................5
Chapter 3: What You Wear Matters (and It Is Not What You Think!)....................13
Chapter 4: Accessing Divine Love....................19
Chapter 5: The Universe Is Talking; Are You Listening?....................25
Chapter 6: Help! I Have No Control In My Life!....................33
Chapter 7: Manifestation....................39
Chapter 8: Intuition....................57
Chapter 9: Dreams....................68
Chapter 10: Technology as a Tool, and Only a Tool....................73
Chapter 11: Play Date!....................81
Chapter 12: Sending Love Instead of Hate....................85
Chapter 13: Learning to Trust and Surrender....................99
Chapter 14: Final Encounter....................103
Chapter 15: Connecting With Self and Others....................107