By Christine Arylo

We live in a culture that constantly bombards us with images and media that tell us who we should be and could be. Then there are those people in our lives who push their opinions on us. Some of us are so influenced by external forces that we have a hard time finding our own voices and expressing our authentic selves.

These tips will help you develop the confidence and conviction inside your soul to express who you truly are. And they will help you to stop apologizing to the world for being you!

Read the first tip on building confidence and self-esteem.

Based on the book Choosing ME Before WE: Every Woman's Guide to Life and Love © 2009 by Christine Arylo. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.NewWorldLibrary.com. Visit Christine at www.DareToLiveYou.com.

Stop Worrying About What Others Think

You can’t be responsible for how everyone around you feels about how you live your life. So stop worrying about how your family, partner, and friends will react to your choices, and start getting real about how you feel about your life. Ask yourself, “When I make decisions, do I think first of myself or do I worry about what others will think or feel?” Give yourself permission to put yourself first.

Do Things Because You Want To

Throw away the big O, Obligation. Give up the G word, Guilt. And make a commitment that everything you do, you do because you want to. Even for things you don't necessarily love doing, ask, “What is it about this action that does matter to me?” and act from that place. It’s all about your attitude. You can choose to be a martyr and a victim, or you can choose to be authentic.

Give Up the Image

We all construct images of who we think we are and who we want the world to see, and then attempt to live up to them. When the image you portray on the outside comes from who you truly are on the inside, you are being your authentic self. When the persona you show the world is based on fitting into expectations, ideals, and images set by society, your friends and family, or your work colleagues, you are living inauthentically. Choose to give up the false image and instead live from the inside out.

Know What Makes You Unique

Every person is born with unique gifts, talents, and inclinations that they are naturally good at. When you find them and use them, these gifts lead you to real happiness and success. Think about Tiger Woods. Born to golf. No matter how much you practiced, you’d never be as great as him; he has a gift. You have gifts too. Start noticing the compliments you often get from people. There is sure to be a gift there.

Be Clear About What Makes You Happy

Stop trying to fit into the expectations that outside forces—society, family, work, friends—have said you must achieve in order to be successful, happy, and accepted, and start asking yourself, “What really makes me happy?” Think about the times that you’ve been happiest. What were you doing? What did you have? Do the same for your most unhappy times. Compare the two to your life today and notice the gaps.

Know Your Emotional Triggers

We all have things that set us off or that evoke an overly strong reaction. It is time to stop letting them run the show! Pay attention to situations that make you spin, get your mad factor going, or send you into the pool of suffering. Be the boss of your emotions by having and taking responsibility for them, and don’t let them drive your life. To be your authentic self, you have to know what is under the surface motivating you.

Act on What You Know Is Right

Being your most real self isn’t always easy. It often requires going against what everyone else is doing or thinking. Being authentic means being true to what feels right for you, even if it doesn't fit the needs and sensibilities of other people -- parents, partners, and friends included. We always know what the best action is to take for ourselves, it’s just not always easy. Be committed to being you, even when it’s scary, and even when other people don’t like it.

Have an Opinion and Express It

Know what you believe and don’t be afraid to express it. People who live their authentic selves have convictions that come from inside their souls, minds, and hearts. They know their Truth and are willing to stand in it, even when what they have to say makes others uncomfortable. Know your Truth in all situations and share it with pride and conviction, knowing that your unique voice deserves to be heard just because you’re you.

Let Others See You

Be vulnerable. Share your most real self with the people around you—family, friends, and colleagues—and let them see all of you. The strong, the weak, the self-assured, the self-doubter, the funny, and the serious. Have and show your emotions fully—from sadness and happiness to anger and joy. When you keep the full range of your true self hidden, no one can know who you really are. While it may feel scary to be vulnerable, you’ll find that the more you show the real you, the more others will be willing to share their authentic selves too.

Never Apologize for Being You

Unfortunately, the world is full of people, including our inner critic, who want to keep us small, to play along, and to be good girls and boys. When we listen to them by apologizing for who we are, or discounting our contributions, thoughts, and feelings, we squash our authentic selves. Know that you deserve to be all of you, all the time. Be brilliant. Be you. And never apologize for it.

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