Authenticity seems to be a hot topic these days. And why not? If a person is authentic during the course of the average day, that means that he or she is connected to heart and soul, tapped into her Intuitive Voice, rooted in a sense of true purpose, and feeling able to be skillfully truthful in most, if not all, of his or her interactions and modes of expression. Sounds optimal.
Unfortunately, for the average person — and particularly the ones working in American or Western corporate environments — there is a sense of alienation from one’s authentic voice, deep purpose, and the truthfulness that comes from being heart-and-soul centered.
The results of this division from one’s True Self (whether you call it Intuition, Highest Self, Divine Guidance, etc.) can be seen in everything from high levels of stress, myriad illnesses, livelihood dissatisfaction, violence, empty consumerism, disconnection from meaning, and other manifestations of chronic separation from the Heart and its voice of intuition.
In the workplace, there are similar manifestations of this schism, whether it be the rise in incivility and aggression, increases in the incidents of bullying and violence, or the crisis of integrity and ethics that shows itself in examples like Enron or Halliburton, and many other companies — and even in other areas of life, such as politics.
For people within this world of work — and particularly within the companies that provide the most egregious examples — one’s Authentic Voice, and the possibility for speaking and living from it, can seem more like a fairytale than a real option.
And yet the crises that we see and face can only be resolved if each individual finds the will, interest, courage and sense of adventure required for identifying, exercising, and living from Authentic Voice and heart-centeredness. Doing so has ripple effects, not the least of which is decreased stress from surrendering the Life of Living the Lie.
Whether you view the reclamation of your Authentic Voice as a spiritual practice, or simply one designed to keep you sane or infuse your life with more meaning, there are several things you can do to begin your journey to Authentic Voice.
Four exercises for finding and exercising your Authentic Voice
Voice Practice #1: Write for yourself to identify and find your true voice.
No, you don’t have to suddenly become a professional writer to use writing as a pathway for recovering your Authentic Voice. As many people have found, the practice of writing can help to uncover insight, hidden passions, opportunities for healing, and other mysteries revealed.
Make a ritual of it: find yourself a journal or notebook that you really like (or make one), collect a couple of pens that you enjoy writing with, assign a time and place for your daily writing, and get to it.
By setting aside some time to write daily, or nearly every day (or several times a day), you can slowly uncover the clues and patterns of your Authentic Voice that have been hidden beneath the layers of Conventional Wisdom and Societal Expectation. Before long, you’ll be writing the things you (at the moment) feel you’d never say aloud, and soon after that, you’ll find a way to speak them skillfully.
For more ideas and inspiration for starting your writing practice, visit the Ivy Sea Online Writing and Publishing Portal.
Voice Practice #2: Branch out with select public communiqués.
Once you’ve gained a degree of comfort with your daily writing practice, and have identified facets of your Authentic Voice (those perspectives and passions that are True You, rather than things you repeat simply because “you think you should, so that (fill in the blank) will think well of you,” you may be ready to test your Authentic Voice more publicly.
While you can continue with your journal writing practice (for many people, it’s a life-long habit), notice what newspaper, online, or magazine articles stimulate a particularly deep-rooted passion in you. Which ones cause you to react? What is it about them? How would you respond if you could say anything?
Such questions make for excellent writing practice, and then you can branch to composing letters to the editor (or to the author or journalist) sharing your response to an article or story. In writing it, you can review it so that it reflects not just your Authentic Voice, but also a degree of skillfulness that allows others their own views and their right to express their Authentic Voice.
Voice Practice #3: Practice speaking your true voice.
Familiarize yourself with the tools of skillful communication so that you can more comfortably speak your true voice (perspectives, opinions, responses) with others in a way that’s authentic yet also reflective of loving-kindness, compassion, and respectfulness of others’ dignity.
One great measure is to remember various examples when someone made you feel listened to, so that you felt your perspective was validated or accepted. Think, too, of an example or two where someone “shut you down” by not listening or by criticizing or otherwise squelching your Authentic Expression.
By using these citations from our own histories, we can create our own guidelines for skillful expression that treats others as we want to be treated. In this case, we share and model our own Authentic Voice, in a way that makes others feel they that, too, can express authentically, even if we disagree.
Voice Practice #4: Write and speak from your heart, with a positive intention.
This practice not only illuminates our work in the other Voice Practice exercises, but also helps us plant our feet in heart-centered ground for all writings and speakings of our Authentic Voice.
If we begin each day, each activity, and each interaction, with a silent prayer of intention — that the day, activity, or interaction be positive and beneficial for all — we can help but see these intentions find expression. This doesn’t mean that we suppress the perspectives that others may disagree with, or that go against the Conventional Wisdom, but simply that we elect to be skillful and respectful of others’ dignity when we express ourselves, and be certain that what we’re expressing is truly sourced from Authentic Voice.
This article was originally featured at Ivy Sea Online and is reprinted with permission.