We hear it so much these days, we almost don’t hear it anymore: a word that is shoved down our throats in an effort to motivate us…but because it is over-used or under-explained, it risks being dismissed as another cliché. And that is a shame – because it can be the most powerful noun contained in 12 letters.
What is authenticity? Most of us would answer that being authentic means being ‘real,’ and that’s a great place to start. Unfortunately, because of the many roles we juggle, the fast-paced society we are trying to keep up with, and the focus on being like someone else ‘more successful, happier, more liked’ than we, all contribute to us living outside of the ‘real’ zone.
When we push all of those factors aside, it is so much easier to be in touch with the things that make up our core: the things that make us unique and give us true joy.
It sounds lovely, but other than making us happy, what is the benefit of being who we truly are? How’s this for a reason: living a life that is true to your values and shines a spotlight on your unique talents, paves the way for radiant health, productivity, creativity and joy that spills over into all areas of your life.
Plus you can make a meaningful difference to your family, your community, and your globe. Being of service to others in areas you are passionate about, using skills you are gifted with, has been documented as immune-boosting and mood-lifting.
Does this sound like something you would like to foster in your children? Encouraging your children to be authentic benefits them now and in the future, personally and professionally. There are so many ways to embark on this path as a family and still promote everyone’s individuality. My goal through this series of articles is to offer practical take-aways that you can tailor to suit your brood.
In this series, I’m going to shed some light on how we can encourage authenticity in our children, and I hope what I have said above puts us all on the same page about what exactly this means, and why it’s so important. The other day while another mom and I were discussing possible piano lessons for our children, a comment was made about wanting to give our children the things we didn’t have, and the pressure on our shoulders to do what’s best for them. It’s easy to get hung up over what it is we should be doing for our children. Perhaps all we need to do is give them permission to be themselves.
Which brings me to how. How do we get our little ones and our adolescents to embrace their individuality and dare to be themselves in a world that seems to be asking them to be just like everyone else?
The first suggestion I offer you is the most important one, and possibly the most difficult: be authentic yourself. Model it for them. Embrace your quirks and enjoy paving your own way. Evaluate your words and your actions – are they truly yours? Do you accept invitations because you truly would like to be at these events or are you afraid of missing out on something? Do you frantically sign your children up for the lessons their classmates are registered in out of the same fear? Do you push aside your own interests to take care of others, even when it’s not necessary, and then feel resentful? These are not easy questions to answer, and there is no judgment being passed here. Being aware of what we’re putting out there is really a helpful tool. It often helps me to ask myself, “Do I want my kids to feel the need to be like someone else? Do I want them questioning their worth?” If I don’t wish this, then I have to model something else for them.
In my next article, I will address a specific way you can introduce the concept of authenticity to your kids and offer an idea to help them along on their unique path.
If you have 10 minutes to spare right now, click on the video below to hear me speak a little about what authenticity is, why it’s important and how you can get there.
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Hi Annie - it's a really common phenomenon for both kids and adults to always be comparing themselves to others. It can just look differently across the ages. And I agree with you: encouraging children to be themselves is the way to go! Thanks for your comment!