Unleashing Your Authenticity: A Guide to Self-Expression in the New Year

Many of us come into the new year with plenty of good intentions. But what if you could just consider a bit more of self-love? Here’s how to lead with authenticity in this time of transformation.

Are you living your true self? As psychotherapist Ilene S Cohen, PhD writes for Psychology Today: “Authenticity should not be sacrificed for acceptance.” 

In other words, you should express your genuine beliefs, thoughts, and values even if doing so risks attracting criticism. Remember that when you let your authenticity shine through, you will attract people who appreciate you for who you really are.

How to ascertain your true self

If you have often felt under pressure to confirm to societal norms, you may have somewhat ‘lost’ your true self. However, there are many steps you can take to trace that person and lift them out of the ether.

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Practise mindfulness

As you mentally reconnect with the here and now rather than feel depressed about the past or anxious about the future, you can allow your true thoughts and feelings to surface. 

As they do, observe them without judgement, as though they are simply clouds drifting through your mind. Those ‘clouds’ that spontaneously appear can reflect what your inner self truly wants.

Explore what makes you ‘you’

You could find that it helps to write down your thoughts in a journal. This can be a physical book or a smartphone app, with Apple even having recently launched its own Journal app for iPhones.

As you pore through the different ideas and figure out why you are drawn to them, you can better understand how your brain’s clockwork whirs.

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Speak your mind

You might have a few opinions that go against what is popular. Still, you should not hesitate to voice those opinions. After all, being authentic is about getting the right people — not necessarily the most people — on your side.

Know when to say “no”

Occasionally, someone might try to drag you towards something you can instinctively tell isn’t quite right for you. When that happens, don’t be afraid to draw a line — as this way, you will be able to spare yourself more time for authentic experiences.

Embrace imperfection 

Yes, we probably all have flaws that we can actually work on — but perfection is unachievable. That’s why you should acknowledge to yourself where you fall short.

You can then get on with letting your true self come to the fore, unhindered by expectations of how you ‘should’ act.

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Let your creative spirit run free

For many of us, it’s not a question of whether we are creative, but instead how we feel most comfortable exercising our creativity.

In your case, maybe it’s by painting. Alternatively, you might prefer to pick up a pen (or laptop…) and write. Artistic impulses can also find their outlet in music and dancing.

Stay true to your principles

What are those principles? Make sure you pursue them with how you live your life, and – especially importantly when it comes to self-expression – source items for your wardrobe.

For example, if you value sustainability, you can take a zero-waste approach by having your next garments printed to order.

Also, if you are already committed to a vegan diet, why not also leave animal products out of your attire, too? Look for an online store offering “100% vegan” clothing.

Put together a wardrobe that evokes your personality

Before you start adding to that wardrobe, it would be wise for you to assess what is already in it. While some of its contents might have been largely left untouched since you originally bought them, there are probably other clothes you adore wearing day after day.

Stop to take a look at those particular pieces and consider why you are so attached to them. Once you have the answers, you can keep them in mind as you shop for new clothes.

Naturally, though, it takes multiple pieces to make an outfit. Hence, you should also try mixing and matching a wide range of clothing items. Are there any particular combinations that imbue you with the confidence you need to tackle otherwise daunting challenges?

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Adapt and evolve your style as and when necessary

Of course, your core self can change over time. So, you shouldn’t be afraid to let your style change in tandem. Looking back at a former self can feel like looking at a stranger — and something you loved wearing a decade ago might not sit quite so easily with you today.

If, for example, you are fond of tattoos but hesitate to get yourself permanently inked, you could instead pick up some traditional tattoo hoodies to ensure you will be able to easily swap between different tattoo designs as your aesthetic tastes change. This might be just one of the many ways in which you express yourself more authentically and distinctively over the year ahead, and far beyond. 

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