3 Steps to BE Your Authentic Self with Core Values

The Masks We Wear

I was having a coffee with a friend last week and we were talking about authentic self and the masks we wear to get through our everyday lives. She was describing to me how she has a Mommy mask, a LaCrosse Mom mask, a sister mask, a girlfriend mask, a friend mask, an ex-wife mask, etc.

All of her masks are her, but they differ enough from each other that sometimes it doesn’t feel authentic.  She finds that sometimes it feels like she has to change her mask for all the different situations in her life.  They are all pretty much her, but they different enough that it is causing her angst.

How Can We Show Up Authentically?

This got me thinking.  What is something that can help us take off these masks shift your perspective and show up to all the situations as our authentic selves all the time?  I know that there are actually many ways that we can get there, but one of the main ones that I have been working with lately with my clients during their coaching is core values.

Show Up Authentically with Core Values

Core values are the integral, sustaining beliefs that we hold.  They are always running in the background of our minds like a subconscious program.  These are usually formed for us in our childhood.

They have to do with what we learned from our parents, what we have learned in our professional lives, and what we have learned in our personal lives.

A lot of people say that they are not conscious, and they cannot be changed.  I am not so sure about that.  I think that if you want to develop a core value you can.  One that isn’t programmed from childhood.

However, it is important to realize that if it doesn’t stick, it might not be for you and you should not beat yourself up about it.

What Are Core Values of Authentic self?

These core values are subconscious, so the conscious mind may or may not even be aware of what you are basing your decisions on and where your behaviors are coming from.   So, it is important to identify your core values.

Step 1 – Identify Core Values

Start with a list of core values, identify which ones resonate with you, and then group together the ones that are similar.  Then, rank them.  You can come up with core values that are our top 5 or 10.

If you get too many, it will be hard to remember them all and too few won’t help you to make decisions or change behavior.

I did these core values exercise with my friend and she discovered that some of her masks were in direct conflict with each other and her core values.  Her top three core values were:

  • Family
  • Accomplishment
  • Integrity

Step 2 – STOP the Core Values Battle

These three core values were constantly battling with each other and made it hard for her to make decisions and made her behavior seem incongruent with who she is.  She wanted to be there for her family, but she also wanted to be an accomplished person.

This meant that every time she wanted to do something to better herself or to add to her accomplishment, she felt guilt and remorse because it was conflicting with her core value of family.

She was torn all the time as to whether to spend the time with her family or to spend time bettering herself.  However, once she realized these were her core values…it helped her to let go of her guilt and remorse.

She realized that she could put her Accomplishment core value at the top for a bit.  She realized that she wasn’t abandoning her family every time she wanted to better herself.  She was merely focusing on a different core value at that moment.  She could get back to focusing on her family later.

It also helped her to build time into her day each day to spend quality time with her family.  This way she never had to feel like she was abandoning them, and she could honor both of these core values without guilt and remorse.

Step 3 – Honor Core Values

She also has the core value of integrity.  She realized this core value was in direct conflict with many of the masks she was wearing in the community.  She was not sure who she was sometimes.  She felt like a chameleon changing her colors to fit whatever situation she was in.

She needed to discover her core values to really get a good idea of who she is…in all situations.  This way she behaves like herself no matter what the situation.  This way she honors her core value of integrity.

Become Authentically You

I like to think of integrity as the ability to be the same on the inside as we are on the outside.  We can integrate our insides and our outsides and thus honor our core value of integrity.

Once she found out about her core values and understood who she is and what she likes and doesn’t like…she could make choices in life that was truly her.

She could say yes to things that aligned with her core values and no to things that didn’t.  I have found that when we truly know who we are inside and out…our choices and behavior reflect it.  We can have integrity in all different situations. We can become authentic in every situation.

Find Out Who You Really Are

I work with clients on their core values and help them to discover who they are…who they are today.  I find that many times there are several ideas of ourselves inside of us

that are not truly us.  There is the person we want people to think we are, the person that we wish we were, and who we actually are.

We have to become very honest with ourselves and see who we truly are and accept it.  Actually, not just accept it, but love it…love who we truly are.  Inside of all of us is the light and the dark.

In our society we like to call it the “good” and the “bad…I am not too sure about these labels.  I am not entirely sure that our shadow or dark side is necessarily “bad”.

It is necessary and we all have a shadow side.  The trick is to identify it, honor it, and love it.  Then, we can see it coming.  Instead of acting on it, we can re-direct this energy into positive behaviors instead.  Or if we can re-direct it, we can at least understand and forgive ourselves if we are not “all light” or “all good”.

Be Authentically YOU

When we understand, accept, and love ourselves completely – light and dark…that is when we can enter into all situations with integrity.  I have heard it called our “authentic” selves.

We know exactly what we are bringing into the world and into each situation.  We do so unapologetically because we love ourselves completely.  We can take off all the masks we wear to hide the “dark” or shadow parts of ourselves.

And we can take these masks of by first learning about our core values.  This is how we can use our core values to take off the masks that we wear.  We can honor our core value of integrity and make authentic choices and behave authentically in all situations.

Questions for You

Why do you think we wear these masks?  Why do you think it is difficult to get to know ourselves?  Have you identified your core values?  Have you ever had to take a look at a choice or behavior of yours and ask yourself…is this really me?