Mark Twain said, "The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself." Whatever you pursue in your outer life will never fill the inner void created by feeling inauthentic; you have to fill it yourself, and first.
"Sam" was so distressed and confused that he'd pretty much shut down; and even told me he almost didn't want to do our coaching call. What happened to Sam was that he'd recently entered a new career field and believed he'd found the ideal company to work with. What he soon discovered was that his values and theirs didn't match. He's about listening to clients and providing service that meets a client's needs; the company is about closing the deal, even if it requires falsehoods and pressure be used - tactics they teach. Though he's had successes since he started there, without using these "tricks of the trade," a co-worker told Sam that he's considered a "failure to launch."
Sam is a person who's clear about his values and knows he must stay true to them or he goes out of harmony with himself and his life. He succeeds at whatever he does, in accordance with his definition and parameters, no one else's. He was out of balance and couldn't figure out how to get back in harmony. This was a new experience for Sam - not being able to return himself to inner harmony, and he couldn't figure out how to lift himself out of this mire so he could feel he stood on solid ground again.
Because he's still in a learning phase and needs a support system while he adjusts, he had true inner and outer turmoil going on. On the one hand, he was being asked to compromise his values for profits. On the other hand, he was being referred to as a failure because of how this "request" was affecting him. Anyone who's just getting started with something new is eager for the day they feel they can trust their skills completely, and feel and be strong because of it. This skill strength was, understandably, still missing for Sam. So he dwelled more on self-doubt than on what was really happening.
Sam felt immobilized, and he felt alone, which is frightening. Engaging and meeting challenges and accomplishment are two of his values, so he hesitated to leave the company; but how could he willingly assist clients in the way the company insisted? He can't; and he had to come to terms with this self-truth. He also needed a few good next steps, which we achieved. By the end of our session he said, "I can actually breathe again. I've been losing a lot of sleep over this."
Being authentic is about knowing yourself and self-acceptance that supports and nurtures you, and helps you thrive. Self-doubt, which is about not being in a strong relationship with yourself, clouds many issues, as well as any process, decision-making or not, you move through. It's difficult to see the real you or a what the real issue is in a clouded mirror.
Authenticity comes from discovering what your Values are then living from them, knowing that not doing so takes you out of integrity and diminishes your life force energy. Values are what help to create and sustain feelings in you that make you feel alive, enlivened, inspired, and in integrity. They can include accomplishment, connection, creativity, family, fulfillment, humor, honesty, inspiration, spirituality, personal development, service, adventure, abundance, and more.
When you know and live your values, you have a better chance of being and staying in harmony with yourself and, therefore, a better chance of being in harmony with others and life, as well as being more selective about who and what you choose to associate yourself with. When you live this way, prosperity and abundance take on greater meaning. Though you may have both as outer level experiences, in whatever degree that is, it becomes, ultimately, about your experiences of them growing deeper and richer at an inner level first.
These days, messages come at you and me from many directions that tell us what we "should" be and have so that no one has a reason to consider us failures or sub-standard. That's a lot of people to please! And, many of these messages have nothing to do with our values or helping us stay real with ourselves and others. It's pretty darn frustrating for a lot of people. What's additionally frustrating, as it was for Sam until he saw this, is we aren't always sure what exactly is frustrating us; so, we assume it must be about us not measuring up in some way.
You aim at improvements for yourself and your life, perhaps not always feeling certain about what you're doing (and, certainty isn't always required, just action on a next step that moves you forward), and along comes someone (often in an email) telling you that you don't measure up unless you have or do XYZ. Even if you feel at your core that XYZ is not a good fit for you now, or ever, you might take on this belief (especially if you're in a challenging phase in an area of your life), which causes you to doubt your abilities or not believe in yourself. You may even start down a path you know in your intuitive gut is not going to lead you where you want to go, but you believe you need to receive a better "measurement" in the eyes of... who? When you find the path doesn't work for you, because it never was supposed to, you might jump into self-judgment, when you should check in with your values. Anytime something feels off or as though it doesn't fit you, check in with your values.
In order to believe you're less than what you truly are, you have to view yourself and life primarily through the lenses of ego and intellect, when the truth is that you and all in existence are so much more.
I ask you to begin paying attention to any message that causes you to feel less, diminished, judged... and question or dump it. Sometimes messages need to address a certain situation in order to open a discussion or thought process, and to let you know that something can be done to improve it, but this can be done in a way that speaks to or with you, not down to or at you. If a message doesn't inspire you, that is, breathes life into you in some measure, question it.
No one can define who the real you is except you. No one can tell you what being authentically you is about except you. No one can deepen and enrich the relationship you have with yourself... except you. Like Sam, you might get some assistance, but it all comes back to you: what you allow, and what you embrace.
Practice makes progress.