Do you ever feel that low grade anxiety that never goes away?
I was dealing with a lot of that a few months ago, and no amount of meditating or journaling or self care was making it go away.
I found myself going out more than I had been in years, spending my weekends closing out the bar and regretting every second of it the next day. Loosing productivity and watching my goals pass me by.
I was having fun and enjoying myself, so I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what my relationship with fun was. Why didn’t I feel like I could have fun? Am I just a boring person now? W H Y is this causing me to feel so anxious!?
Weeks of self reflection led me to realize that I was living out of alignment with my values, and starting to stray away from my authentic self. This was causing anxiety because I was spending my time and energy in ways that didn’t light me up, and wasn’t being the version of me that I wanted to be.
Once I realized this, I returned to a practice that I have done many times to get back to my authentic self. I discovered my authentic code.
The authentic code is a practice that I adopted from To Be Magnetic (link). It’s the process of identifying you’re authentic self and then basing your daily actions on those values to remain aligned with your authentic self.
Before we get into it...
What is your authentic self?
Your authentic self is who you are underneath all of the masks you wear. Underneath your need to be cool or to impress the people around you. It’s who you are when you’re not trying to protect yourself, your fears aren’t controlling you, and when your ego isn’t dancing around ways to fit in. It’s who you are at your core, when you are most whole and genuine.
So many of us grow up being what everyone else wants us to be. We act in ways to appear “cool”. We base our interests, beliefs, looks, and values on what we think we need to do in order to be loved and feel worthy. Our perception of what is accepted is based on factors outside of ourselves - messages we picked up from our family, culture, and society.
We create these masks to subconsciously protect ourselves when we’re growing up, but as we enter into adulthood, we are so disconnected from our authentic selves that we can’t even differentiate from our masks and our true selves.
So, what’s an authentic code?
An authentic code is a set of words that you live by, your values, that are true to YOU. These will be the words that you live your life by, running every decision, experience, purchase, and way you spend your time by. The purpose of the authentic code is to keep you on track with who you are in a world that is constantly trying to get you to stray away from it. It’s a way of gauging the actions that you’re taking, and making sure they are aligned with your authentic self.
My authentic code is....
Here’s how I would break them down further.
Space: Space to me means peace, freedom, rest. It means staying conscious, slowing down, taking time to myself. It means creating space between my reactions and how I act. It means self care, being in nature, taking walks, meditating, journaling, and taking baths. Anything that helps me slow down and connect to myself.
Growth: Growth is a big one for me. So much of my day to day is about growing and becoming my best self. It’s about expansion, personal development, learning who I am in all ways, working towards goals, and learning new skills.
Security: This one means making sure I am secure and safe. Planning for my future, saving and investing, budgeting my finances, making sure everything is flowing the way I want it to in my life.
Exploration: To me, this means adventure, trying new things, meeting new people. Traveling, going to new restaurants, having meaningful conversations, taking chances regardless of the outcome, and being adventurous.
These are 4 words that whole heartedly make up who I am authentically in this moment in my life. When I have all 4 of these in balance, I feel like my best self. I feel fulfilled and complete, like I can take over the world.
After having defined these 4 words, they are now my roadmap for how I spend my days and the decisions I make. I know that if I am feeling out of sorts, something in my authentic code is off. Whether that be not making enough time for exploration, or not giving myself enough space to connect back with myself. My authentic code gives me direction every time I veer away from authentic self.
How I discovered my authentic code
Step 1 - Connect with your authentic self
It’s going to be impossible to figure out your authentic code if you don’t know who your authentic self is. So the first step is to connect with your authentic self. Remember, this is the version of you underneath all of your programming. The version of you that existed before society and life shaped you into who you are.
There are many ways you can do this, but my favorite is to use guided meditations. Here are some to get you started.
- To Be Magnetic has a great “Authentic Self Deep Imagining”. This one is always my go-to and something I would recommend for everyone. It does require you to have a subscription to their service, which I would recommend to anyone and everyone anyway.
- Insight Timer is an app that provides thousands of free meditations. Type in “authentic self” and find one that you like.
- Youtube! YouTube has so many meditations on it. Same as above, type in “connect with authentic self meditation” and find one that you like. One drawback that bothers me with YouTube meditations is that the video may get disrupted by ads. Womp.
If this is something you haven’t done before, don’t worry! Depending on how long you’ve been living unconsciously, it can be really hard to figure out who you are without all of the masks you’ve been wearing. It can feel a little bit like an identity crisis.
Just know, this work happens in layers. You’re going to think you know who you are until you find a behavior you realize isn’t authentic to you. Don’t let it get you down. It’s actually a good thing because that’s going to lead you a little bit closer to yourself!
And then you’re going to repeat the cycle and have 3972 more identity crisis YAY 🙂
Step 2 - Journal about who your authentic self is
Now that you have an idea of who YOU are or at least have started to prime your brain to identify your true authenticity, let’s get clear on who that version of you is and isn’t.
Journal who this person is. Identify what this version of you believes, the way it acts, the values it follows.
What traits does this person embody? How does this person spend their time? How does this person act around other people? What does it feel like to be this person? What ways are you showing up that may not be true to YOU? Why do you feel like need to show up in these ways?
To take it more in depth, answer these questions as your authentic self. List out the top 4 answers to each question. Remember, leave out any “shoulds”, “ought to”s and “have to”s.
- What are you doing when you feel most lit up?
- What makes you feel most inspired?
- How do you spend your free time?
- What surrounds your personal space?
- What do you spend your money on?
- Where do you have the most order and organization in your life?
- What areas of your life are you the most reliable and focused?
- What do you spend most of your time and energy thinking about?
- What do you find yourself talking to yourself about the most?
- What do you find yourself talking to others about the most in social settings?
- What do you love to learn about?
It’s super important to make sure you’re answering these questions from your authentic self and not from your ego (more on the ego here). If you’re new to this, it may take some time to differentiate between the two. You’ll know that it’s your ego if it’s coming from a place of wanting to be cool, popular, and accepted. Answers from your authentic self will always come from a place that’s true to you, despite how it appears to others.
Step 3 - Identify what answers are repeated the most
Once you’ve answered each question, go back and review your answers. You’ll most likely find that there are certain answers that repeated often. Another thing you’ll probably find is that you listed the same kind of things in different ways. In these cases, find the commonality or essence for each answer. For example, you may have listed “going out with friends” and “grabbing a drink with coworkers”, in which case, maybe “connection” is part of your code because you realize that connecting with others is the commonality in both responses.
Go through your answers and find the 4 words that repeat the most. These 4 words are your values, or your authentic code.
Step 4 - Detox what’s currently in your life that does not align
Using this list, identify what things you can detox from your life that are creating a divide between your current self and your authentic self. This can be actions, things, decisions, beliefs, and people that maybe you needed at one point but no longer align with your authentic self. This is an important step because the more we engage with things that do not align with us, the more it keeps us stuck.
Step 5 - Run every decision through this code
Now that you have your list of 4 words, they mean nothing unless you start putting them to use. The best way to use your authentic code is to funnel every decision through your code and allow it to shape the way you spend your time, energy, and money. This ensures that everything from your goals, your actions, your relationships, and your career are all aligning with your most authentic self.
Here’s an example on how I use my authentic code:
If it’s a Saturday night and friends ask me to go out drinking, I can look at my authentic code and ask myself if that’s a decision that aligns with me. For me I know that this decision would mean staying out late, spending more money that I’m comfortable with, waking up hungover the next day, and probably wasting the entire day away. Given that my code is space, growth, security, and exploration, I may decide that a better use of my time would be to stay in and take a bath for some “me time” or suggest that we try out a new restaurant and catch up instead.
When I start to feel that low grade anxiety I mentioned earlier, it’s usually an indicator that I am out of alignment somewhere, and I need to look at what I’ve been spending my energy on. This doesn’t always looks like spending my time partying when I want to be spending my time working towards other goals I want to achieve. Sometimes being out of alignment is as subtle as worrying about something I can’t control too much causing me to hermit in my apartment and avoid being with friends or trying new things (not nurturing the exploration part of my code).
Once I realized I felt out of alignment in my story earlier, I was able to use my authentic code to get back on track. It may not have been right away, because there were things I needed to detox, but slowly the anxiety started to lift and I felt like myself again.
Using my authentic code to make decisions on how I spend my time has been a game changer for me. It’s allowed me to stay true to my authentic self while providing a roadmap to get back on track when I started to veer away from that. It’s allowed me to stay on top of my goals, and stay intentional with my time.
It’s important to remember that we’re always evolving which means that our values and authentic selves are always changing as well. And with each new version of ourselves, we may have new authentic codes. So it’s important to continuously reevaluate our codes to make sure that they are continuing to align with the versions of ourselves in each chapter of our lives.
Because of this, I revisit my authentic code at least once a year. It’s cool to look back at my past authentic codes to see where I was at different points in my journey and how much I’ve grown from those versions of myself.
Try it out! Comment below and let me know what your 4 buckets in your authentic code are.
And, if you want to deep dive into what an authentic self is and why it’s important, check out this post!