Authenticity and individuality are two very significant words, and words that we have all been hearing a lot about recently. Especially in the HR forum, as we move towards an era of celebrating and embracing individuality (it’s coming, trust me).

For many people though, there is a disconnect. They see the end result when they meet with people who are vibrating at their own frequency, and it can be awe inspiring, but they can’t see the path they need to follow to find the same energy within themselves. It can feel like something impossible, like something only other people get to achieve. But this isn’t something that is reserved for other people. The potential really is within all of us at all times. We just have to tap into it.

I watched a badass TED Talk by Caroline McHugh recently, where she addressed this very topic. I sat nodding my head to the majority of what she was saying. She talks of living as the person of your dreams, and of tapping in to, owning and developing the very essence of who you really are.

Someone asked me recently at a speaking engagement where my confidence to stand up on stage and talk to people comes from.Confidence comes from one place and one place only: connection. Connection to the essence of who you really are. The deeper your connection to yourself is, the more you will begin to feel that you have something to add and to share with the world, and the greater the level of confidence you will have in your own abilities.

The more you connect to yourself, the more you are able to connect with others, and do so from a loving and authentic place; whether face to face or standing on a stage in front of hundreds of people. I know this is true, because I have experienced it first hand.

Developing connection involves doing work from the inside out. Peeling back our protective layers and developing an honest dialogue with ourselves and the world around us.

I chose to step away from myself in my mid-teens and only chose to step back six years ago, when I turned 30. I can remember how lost I felt, having chosen to commit the entirety of my being to something outside of myself, and then trying to piece together the pieces of my own puzzle to work out who I really was.

And boy that jigsaw was hard. But I was determined, and persevered until the pieces finally began to come together; though only after trying to put multiple pieces into the wrong places. In fact, some of them might still be the wrong way up haha, but I am happy to be forever a work in progress, gradually improving and taking steps towards who I really am. I will always be in a process of continuous improvement.

For anyone who recognises that lost feeling and who has been in a similar place with a similar level of determination; this is for you. Here are the five most important changes I made to facilitate this shift within myself:

1. Allow yourself the space to listen

We get caught up in busy, and operate from a dizzy place of rushed momentum the majority of the time. My ‘busy’ kept me anaesthetised for 12 years, conveniently distracting me from the bigger issues. Whilst living in ‘busy’ I focused on the superficial problems in my world and blamed entirely the wrong things for my unhappiness. So at first, I just needed to slow down and allow myself the chance to listen to work out what the source of my unhappiness was; namely me and the choices I was making. This space has developed over time into a meditation practice.

2. Make little choices that support you positively

These don’t have to be big things, they could just be the choice to go to bed earlier or something as simple as that. I normally go to bed around (usually before) 10pm, because that supports my early starts. I use the early mornings for self development; exercise, reading, meditation – so that time is incredibly important to me. Make loving choices but start with the little things first; the little positive choices that nourish your soul. Do I want to eat this? Do I want to go there? Does this work for me? What do I really want? Start to view yourself and what you need in the same way that you would for your loved ones. Love and honour yourself fiercely and fully.

3. Consider what you are digesting

What we consume is huge. And honouring yourself can come from making good choices on that level. I don’t just mean food and drink; though both of those things are tremendously important. What of the energy that we consume from others each day? Consider what you are choosing to consume carefully on every level. Become protective of your internal environment and mindful of the people you choose to spend time with and what those interactions offer each of you. People can be your biggest asset but also your greatest threat.

4. Stop seeking approval

Own your decisions. Take charge of your life. McHugh describes this as approval addiction. Something I know I suffered from massively throughout my life, and honestly, at times still do. What I have been able to work on is my reaction to things. So it doesn’t mean the feeling goes away, it just means we are better equipped to rationalise it and let it go when it arises. Tuning in to who you really are will make decisions feel much simpler and you will start to feel the need to get others opinions and approval less and less.

5. Work on your inner dialogue

I can’t emphasise enough how important this is. We are our own biggest (and cruelest) critics. Start to work on your awareness of the way that you ‘speak’ to yourself and how easily you forgive yourself when something doesn’t go to plan. When faced with this; imagine what you would say to your most loved people if they were in a similar situation and start to change the way you speak to yourself. This is something I’ve been focusing on a great deal a this year and I’ve written about it in a bit more detail here.

I could write forever on this subject, but I think this is great as a starting point. It was certainly the start I needed. I have built the best possible version of myself for today, and I will keep re-modelling her each and every day I am lucky enough to be alive.

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