Living Full--Living True:
The Authentic Life
by Suzanne Zoglio, Ph.D.
In the early stages of life we are often focused on
pleasing others…parents, teachers, bosses, and
spouses. In an effort to get our needs met, we learn to
play by other people’s rules. But as we mature, we
become more competent, independent, and able to meet our
own needs. We are then less motivated to do what others
want us to do. We tire of keeping up appearances, and
care much less about what other people think. We no
longer want to chase someone else’s dream; we want to
live our own dreams. In short, we come to grips with the
idea of being our own person. Now we just want to live a
life that feels right. We want to be free of
inner turmoil and outer chaos. Instead of approval, we
are more likely to seek a sense of inner peace…the
kind that accompanies authentic living.
I suspect that you can probably name several people
who have taken considerable risks in order to lead more
authentic lives. Perhaps you know someone who turned
down a promotion to have more time with her family,
forfeited a steady income to start up a new business, or
left an unhappy marriage facing the firm disapproval of
friends and family. Maybe you know someone who started a
family after forty, got a high school diploma in
midlife, or took early retirement in order to work
full-time as a volunteer.
When you fashion a life where the decisions you make
and the actions you take are considered, deliberate, and
in harmony with what's important to you, you are living
an authentic life. It is not necessarily a life that others
admire or think is right for you, but a life that you
know in your heart is right for you. It may not be a
life that has been your habit, but it is a life that
makes you greet each day with enthusiasm and sleep
peacefully at night.
The more honest you can be--with yourself and with
others--about who you are and what you need to be
fulfilled, the more likely you are to create a life that’s
right for you. But excavating your truth may seem like a
daunting task. With all the busyness of our everyday
lives, self-reflection may seem self-indulgent. "I
don’t have time to sit around contemplating my
navel," you might think. "I’ve got
responsibilities to meet."
But that’s the irony. If we move as fast as we can
down a path that leads us away from our true desires, we
end up backtracking anyway, or going around in circles
searching for the place that feels like home.
When we don’t take the time to tune in to what’s
best for us next, we actually waste time with many false
starts and journeys that might otherwise be avoided. An
authentic life is built from the inside out…with
attention to one’s inner wisdom. Perhaps you could
simply begin each day with a question: "What is
important to me?" Or spend 20 minutes in meditation
each morning, letting your inner voice surface. You
might try 10 minutes of journaling every day for week,
and then see what wisdom surfaces. Maybe you could take
one weekend a month and retreat to nature for an hour or
so where you could reflect on what kind of person you
have become and what kind of person you aspire to be. To
live authentically you need not spend two weeks on a
mountaintop in Tibet (although that might be terrific
too). You simply have to make time on a regular basis
for self-reflection. Tune in to who you are, what you
want, and what is best for you next. The rest will
Once you are clear about what resonates for you and
you align your outer behavior with that inner truth,
your life will flow in a direction that is exquisitely
meaningful. You will not expend energy on denial,
survival, or suppression. Instead, you will gain energy
from insight, evolution, and expression…from being
authentic. When your inner and outer worlds are
congruent, the pieces all seem to fit…everything
clicks. If you know at your core that you are living a
life that is aligned with your purpose, filled with what
you love, and supporting your growth, you are living an
authentic life. Your outer behavior is fueled by your
inner truth, and you lead a life of dignity and
self-respect. There is no pretense to keep up. What you
do reflects what you believe, how you feel, and what you
When you live authentically, you know what you stand
for and make conscious choices to honor those values.
Your highest priorities consistently get the lion's
share of your time, and your actions are consistent with
your beliefs. If you say fitness, family, meditation,
and service are important to you, you make time for them
in your life. When you are complimented, you feel
personally validated because it is the "real"
you that is being appreciated, not a "persona"
that you play very well. The energy that fuels an
extraordinary life is harnessed from within your heart.
On the other hand, if you live in a way that just doesn’t
feel right, you might be concealing or ignoring parts of
yourself that long to be acknowledged.
Perhaps you feel tired, empty, or depressed
because you are draining energy as you push your inner
desires to the rear of your awareness. Denying inner
truth is like trying to keep the lid on a pressure
cooker that has built up too much steam. Try as you
will, you can’t contain it. If you know in your heart
that you’re not using your most precious gifts or
pursuing your dreams, you will not feel passion for the
path that you are on. A certain numbness may even take
hold, where you go through the motions and even perform
pretty well, but at the end of the day you do not feel
full. Rather it feels as though something is missing…and
it is…a special part of you. To live authentically is
to make a difference with the gifts we’ve been given
and to follow the dreams that ignite our passion.
Being authentic also requires the courage to face
personal truth. That truth might be how you really feel
about yourself, what fears are blocking your success,
which habits are perpetuating the life you have, or what
dreams you have suppressed. Until you choose your
actions based on emotional awareness, you will not
experience harmony. You may dance as fast as you can,
distracting yourself from the inner work that needs to
be done, but frenzied activity will not fill that void
you perceive. To increase inner peace we must find the
courage to examine and embrace all aspects of ourselves…the
light, the dark, the new, the old.
To see if enhancing authenticity in your life might
add to your joy, see if the following statements ring
true for you.
- You are skilled and successful in your career,
but not doing what you love
- You don’t know what you want, but you DO know it’s
not the life you have
- You want close relationships, but escape to work,
food, or alcohol, instead of developing your own esteem
and emotional aptitude.
- You know what changes would make your life more
meaningful, but still find many excuses for not making
the changes just now.
If you related to any of the previous statements,
give some thought to what would bring your inner and
outer worlds into finer alignment. Taking more time to
tune in to your inner voice? Examining your gifts and
how you might use them to make a difference?
Facing your fears about taking a leap toward what you
really want? Whatever it is, consider the time and
effort as a worthwhile investment. The return on your
investment is to live as you wish and have no regrets in
© Copyright Suzanne Zoglio, Ph.D. Adapted from
"Create A Life That Tickles Your Soul: Finding
Peace, Passion and Purpose" by Suzanne Zoglio,
Ph.D. Website: www.tickleyoursoul.com.
Suzanne Zoglio, Ph.D.,
is an author, consultant, and motivational speaker who helps clients to work and live as they wish. Through her writing, coaching, and seminars, she helps individuals and work teams reach their full potential. With a personal mission to nurture growth, she supports practices that lead to energy, empowerment, and the realization of meaningful goals.
Suzanne has worked in the field of human development all of her adult life…as a teacher, counselor, executive coach, team consultant, self-development writer, and motivational speaker. She holds a doctorate in organizational psychology and a master's degree in counseling. Helping people manage change for over 20 years, she's coached executives, facilitated work team development, and presented motivational seminars to hundreds of groups across the USA and Europe.
Suzanne’s books include Teams At Work: 7 Keys To Success (Tower Hill Press, 1997), The Participative Leader (McGraw Hill, 1995), and Create A Life That Tickles Your Soul (Tower Hill Press, 1999) available in paperback as well as hardcover. Recharge In Minutes is scheduled for release in June, 2003). All are available online and from major retailers.
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