Authenticity...Will the Real YOU Please Stand Up!

There is a lot of talk and concern about being authentic, your true self; really allowing the real you to stand up and be present. Many articles and coaches discuss and write about how to truly find your authentic self. But what does that really mean? Do you know who you really are? Who you are to the core? What is your perception of yourself? And, is that perception true? All this can become a bit mind boggling! We all have beliefs and attitudes that shape our perceptions. Understanding where those beliefs stem from, how you got them, and taking an honest look at them can help you determine whether those beliefs, thoughts and attitudes contribute to your authentic self or if they lead you toward a false self perception.

Authenticity Thought Starters

Let’s start at the beginning. Honestly answer these thought starter questions to evaluate your thoughts and perceptions as a way to determine how authentic or false your internal thoughts are…you know it’s that internal voice you hear. Write down your responses to refer back to them. Ready to test your thoughts for their authenticity?

  1. Think about a belief or attitude that you have of yourself.
  2. Is it true? Is it a fact? Is that thought or feeling verifiably true? How do you know?
  3. Does holding onto that thought or feeling serve you in a positive way? Does it contribute to your feeling happy, fulfilled, calm and peaceful?
  4. Are your thoughts and attitudes about yourself helping to keep you healthy? Do your self thoughts push you toward actions that put your well-being at risk? Do these thoughts keep you from being your best?
  5. Does this belief and feeling get you more of what you want, need and deserve? Or is it leading you toward or keeping you from taking the actions that would give you what you need?

Now that you have some idea about which thoughts, beliefs and feelings may be self-limiting you may be ready to find your authentic self to live life to your fullest! Answer each question honestly. There is no right or wrong. These questions are about getting you to examine your core authentic self. Save your answers for further processing.

Where Does This Begin?

Typically you gain your perspective of yourself very early in life as a small child. With very little life experience or insight, you may have interpreted someone’s actions or messages to you, particularly a parent or other important adult, in a negative way. That often was not the intent of the person sending the message but it was how you interpreted it. How does this happen?

Ladder of Inference
Ladder of Inference

We grow up creating self-generating beliefs which we rarely truly test for truth. We simply adopt beliefs based on conclusions we made from observations/data. This phenomenon is called the Ladder of Inference (visual). We observe or hear a message “the data”, select some details about it and add meaning to it. Based on the meaning we attach, we then make assumptions about it. The assumptions become conclusions which we adopt as beliefs. The beliefs then drive our actions.

Without truly exploring we adopt this as our belief about ourselves. Over time we continue to infer others behaviors in this same pattern and do not even realize we are doing it. Now as adults, these beliefs, which often are self-limiting and not true, are deeply embedded in ourselves. We accept them without questioning. All too often this holds us back, we may believe we are not good enough, not worthy enough. It’s surprising, actually shocking, how many of us are walking around with those beliefs!

As a small child you “bought into” that negative message and labeled it….I am not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not athletic enough, I don’t deserve something better, I must be “bad”. The messages of our internal voices can easily turn into an inner critic. As a small child you interpret a situation or message without really examining it or questioning if it is true. This interpretation then leads to a feeling often inadequacy, lacking something, unworthiness in some aspect. Then when faced with similar situations, we quickly assign that same interpretation and feeling to it. This thinking becomes automatic without even being aware that you are doing it; it is subconscious. These thoughts and feelings become your beliefs, again without really examining it for the truth. You simply accept it as the truth. These beliefs can so easily become self-limiting.  You begin to expect this in your daily interactions and life. These self-limiting expectations (beliefs) get in your way to fully living your authentic self.

Authentic Self Questionnaire…Let’s take a deep dive into those and examine them!

Now that you have some idea about which thoughts, beliefs and feelings may be self-limiting you may be ready to find your authentic self to live life to your fullest! Answer each question honestly. There is no right or wrong. These questions are about getting you to examine your core authentic self. Save your answers for further processing.

  1.  What does your inner voice say to you? What is the message? Think of a time, a situation where you listened carefully to that voice. Describe the moment as specifically as you can. What was the circumstance? When was that? Can you think back to the first time you received that message of your inner voice? What was going on? How old were you? Who was giving you that message…at least from your perspective at that time?
  2. How does that message make you feel?
  3. Is that message true? Is that really you? Or was it a message you received early in life and have grown to accept as truth?
  4. What would you like to say to that person(s) who gave you that message? Speak from your heart and tell her/him/them what you know about yourself, what is true about you. Let it out!

Once you can pinpoint where those messages come from, it is easier to look at them and see them for what they are…simply our interpretations and assumptions, not necessarily the “truth”! To begin to live authentically you need to learn to be vulnerable. What??? You may be asking, who wants to be vulnerable? Doesn’t that just open myself up for hurt and pain? What the heck does that have to do with being authentic?

From Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, “What we know matters, but who we are matters more. Being rather than knowing requires showing up and letting ourselves be seen. It requires us to dare greatly, to be vulnerable.” Most of us would interpret vulnerability as weakness, when in fact it is just the opposite! And, it impacts us all! It’s not a choice. The only choice is how we each respond when we are staring at uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. We each choose whether we respond with our authentic self and the knowledge that we are worthy or shrink away, or pretend to be someone other than ourself.

From Brenne Brown’s Daring Greatly…..The 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living that point to what the Wholehearted work to cultivate and what they work to let go of:

  1. Cultivating Authenticity: Letting go of what people think
  2. Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting go of perfectionism
  3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting go of numbing and powerlessness
  4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark
  5. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting go of the need for certainty
  6. Cultivating Creativity” Letting go of comparison
  7. Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth
  8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle
  9. Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to”
  10. Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting go of being cool and “always in control”

Wholehearted living (being authentic) is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.

Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable allows you to be authentic. Let the real you live your life.

Kicking Off the New Year

Here we are kicking off a new year, getting a new start, a chance to begin a healthy new lifestyle!  To help you learn practical tips, articles and recipes for a healthier, more vibrant life - here is a wonderful resource from Duke Integrative Medicine Programs. As a graduate of their training and certification program, I can tell you they are top-notch! Please check out and sign up for their new blog at

Watch the short video on habits! It explains in simple terms how habits are formed...both good and bad ones. It will help you understand how our brains can become automatically wired to continue a pattern without us even consciously thinking. The good news is....we can make a choice to change the unhealthy patterns we have and create new healthy patterns. We always can make a different, better choice! 

Enjoy the blog and let me know what you think of it!

 2017 is the year for health!

2017 is the year for health!

Stress Less This Holiday

It's the holiday season! This is the time we celebrate with our family, our friends, our coworkers and colleagues. Many of us have meaningful traditions that hold a special place in our hearts. We are filled with wonderful expectations and plans. But with all that, we find ourselves over-worked, over-stressed, and possibly even dreading the holidays. Well...not this year!

Let's do this differently this year...let's all stress less this holiday! I invite you to approach the holidays differently this year. Ready? This year start with your well-being in mind. Radical, right? The only way you can really enjoy the holidays, the people, the traditions, and have it be fun is to start by being good to yourself.

How? Schedule self-care activities. You schedule all the other big important events and tasks...why not schedule you? If you don't, all the parties, cooking, shopping, wrapping, and running errands will take up every moment of your time. The scheduled self-care activities don't have to be long, just 10 minutes here and there can have a huge impact on your health and state of mind.

My gift to you is my free printable Holiday Self-Care Planner for you to use. Let's all celebrate the season with good health, a happy heart, and peace of mind. Wellness changes everything. Be intentional.


8 Surprising Ways to Get Your Mojo Back...Reenergize

Need to re-energizeLearn 8 simple tips that can help busy people reenergize during busy days. My life is great…I have the career I wanted, a supportive spouse, smart kids, two cars, but I am exhausted and not enjoying all that I have, let alone functioning at my best. Does this sound familiar?


Believe me, I’ve been there! My busy life is terrific, but I’ve gone through those times when I am not feeling wonderful, let alone healthy. This is a common experience among busy adults. We are up early and already feeling as if we are behind and tired. And, this is only the first 15 minutes of the day!


There is plenty of research out there that proves that as humans we can only really stay focused  and perform well for approximately 90 minutes. Then we need to seek restoration. Taking short focused breaks can help you get your mojo back. Turns out managing our energy is more important than managing our time!


If you want to feel you can perform at your best all day, achieve improved health, and feel greater happiness, then you need to manage your energy. This happens by increasing your energy capacity in four key areas: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.


Rub the sleep from your eyes and take a deep breath. Here are some tips for getting your mojo back. Some may even sound counterintuitive - just try them!


  1. Go outside for 5-10 minutes. I can hear you now, “What? I don’t have time to go outside because I have got to do …..”  Just take five minutes, go outside and breathe deeply.
  2. Every 90 minutes, get up, move to a new place (outside is great) and get a change of scenery for a few minutes.
  3. Stand up and do some simple stretches.
  4. Set a timer every 60-90 minutes. If you tend to get “lost” in your work and lose track of time,  let the timer remind you it’s time to move, stretch, and breathe.
  5. Switch gears. If you are struggling to get a task done, stop and go do something different! When you come back, you will be amazed at how refreshed you are. Now try tackling that “difficult” task!
  6. Eat a healthy snack and drink water.
  7. Change “channels” mentally and emotionally.
  8. Tap into your deepest core values. What is most important to you? Create a sense of purpose in your life.


Try some of these for a week or two and notice what changes for you. I believe you will find that you actually begin to enjoy your life, your family, and your work more. You will increase your energy throughout the day and actually do a better job of whatever the task is at hand. Taking the time to breathe and reenergize may be one of the most important things you can do for yourself.


Shirley Michl is a Certified Integrative Health Coach and owner of Intentional Wellness, LLC. Schedule a free 15 minute telephone consultation today.