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Reflection Exercise for More Authenticity in Your Life (Relates to Episode 45)

Table of Contents

What to expect?

Have you ever consciously reflected on how authentic you permit yourself to be in your life? In which areas of your life you hide, or adapt to your social environment, to what is expected of you? Whether you live YOUR life or someone else’s version of it?

Well, this is an invitation to you to take some self-care and self-reflection time as I guide you through these and more questions. Think of it as a guided meditation or a guided visualization. At the end of this exercise, you will have more clarity about who you are, who you allow yourself to be, and what changes you could make to your life in order to feel more authentic and free.

You’ll get out of this what you put in – the more you surrender to the exercise, the deeper go and the more honest you are to yourself, the greater the value you’ll take from this.


This is the transcript of WHYLD Podcast Episode 45 – slightly adjusted to work well in written form for those who prefer being guided through the exercise this way, instead of listening to the corresponding podcast episode. I suggest you alternate between reading an instruction / question and then taking time to work through it, before reading the next bit.

Are you ready to play?

Still got the chance to bail… No? Still here?

Then let’s start by getting you in the right mental and physical space for this…

Part 0 – Get in the Right Mind Space

If you can, find a quiet spot where you can experience this without distractions. Where you can relax and fully focus.

Stop moving for a moment and become still. Close your eyes for a second, if that feels good for you right now.

  • Focus on your hearing sense. What can you hear? What sounds haven’t you been aware of just a moment ago?


  • Now, focus on your nose. Are there smells you can make out in the air? If so, notice your reaction to what you smell. Is it a reaction to something pleasant, or unpleasant?


  • Recalibrate your focus to the air rushing in and out of your nose. Observe how you are breathing. Can you inhale a little deeper? Can you exhale a little slower?

Good, you are relaxing more and more with every breath. And you are becoming more present with your body. Being mindful is a fundamental key to noticing when you are being inauthentic, when you are straying from your truth. Your body is an expert in giving you signs and your mind can learn to notice and embrace them.

Part 1 – Learn What “Authentic” Feels Like in Your Body

Before you can start deciphering the body’s language when telling you that something is off, you need to familiarize yourself with what it feels like when you are aligned and at peace with your truth.

Search your memories for a situation in which you felt most authentic. A situation when you did not hold back, when you were fully yourself, respected your needs, and accepted your physical and emotional reality.

Take a moment to sift through your memories. When you have found a good one, go back to that situation, put yourself in the shoes of your younger self, and visualize as many details as you can!

I’ll give you a moment now to find and feel that memory.

Assuming you found one now: As you are reliving the situation, notice how your body feels.

  • What do your muscles feel like? Are they tense, or are they relaxed and soft?


  • What are your shoulders doing? Your facial muscles?


  • How are you breathing? Is it shallow or deep? Where in your body can you feel the air massaging and stretching you?


  • Where in your body can you feel that you are being truthful to yourself?


  • Can you detect any emotions accompanying your physical reality at this moment?

Part 2 – Learn What “Inauthentic” Feels Like in Your Body

After exploring what authenticity feels like in your body, let’s now look at the opposite kind of experience. Leave your “authentic” memory and sift through your experiences once again but now look for a situation in which you felt inauthentic.

Maybe one where you controlled your self-expression, were nervous about showing certain aspects of yourself, or where you adapted to your environment in ways that felt artificial.

I give you a moment to find and visualize – to FEEL – that kind of situation as well.

  • Focus on your hearing sense. What can you hear? What sounds haven’t you been aware of just a moment ago?


  • Now, focus on your nose. Are there smells you can make out in the air? If so, notice your reaction to what you smell. Is it a reaction to something pleasant, or unpleasant?


  • Recalibrate your focus to the air rushing in and out of your nose. Observe how you are breathing. Can you inhale a little deeper? Can you exhale a little slower?

Alright, you may let go of this memory now, too. If you feel the need, wiggle your body a little to shake off the sensations. No, I mean it. Get up and shake it off, or do so while sitting or lying down. Good. Come back to the here and now.

Sooo… in the process of embodying both authenticity and a deviation from it, have you detected any tells? Your individual indicators of veering off your truth?

For some, it may be a perceived lump in their stomach area. For others, it could be the amount of pressure with which their jaw clenches. Heat rising, tensing neck muscles, shallow breathing. Or emotions like anger, anxiety, or sadness.

Maybe you have felt no difference at all? Don’t worry, you don’t “have” to sense anything. However, if you just got impatient or angry with these stupid instructions because you can feel exactly nada and this is silly anyway… congratulations!

These emotions probably came up because you felt an incongruence between your physical reality and what you expected of yourself. Try letting go of any expectations and pressure, embrace whatever is or is not happening and know you are 100% valid.

Does that ease your impatience or irritation? If so – et voilà, that is exactly what I meant to show you. The difference between feeling aligned with your inner truth versus fighting some aspect of it.

Alrighty, now that you may or may not have a clue what to look out for, let’s zoom in on some areas of your life and evaluate how authentic you feel there.

Part 3 – How Authentic Are You at Work?

Aaaand we start with… WORK.

Did you know that the average person spends roughly 90,000 hours at work in their life time?

Now, this number will vary across people, just as well as what is considered “work” will vary across people. Whether it be employment, self-employment, volunteering, studying, homemaking, care work or other commitments – most of us spend a biiig portion of our days on “activities involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.” The latter quote is a definition of the term “work” I took from Oxford Languages’ website.

Given the big role working plays in our lives, it would be a big loss if we couldn’t be ourselves at work, wouldn’t it? How authentic do you think you can be at work?

Whatever you consider to be your work currently (maybe there are different streams of work you pursue), visualize it now and get the feel of it.

  • Picture yourself getting ready for work. What is the ritual that makes you slip into work mode? Do you even ever leave this space, or does duty never end?


  • Do you get changed for work? What do you wear and how does your body feel in those clothes, those shoes, those accessories?


  • Do you alter other aspects of your natural appearance for work? Do you trim your beard, put make-up on, hide a tattoo, pin up your hair?


  • How do you get to where you work? Do you roll out of bed and that’s it, do you walk, or do you drive there?


  • How does it feel as you get to the place from where you work, your office chair, the counter, the construction site?


  • What do you see, smell, hear around you there?


  • Who do you encounter during your work? Your colleagues, clients, your superior, those in your care…? Who are these people?


  • How does it feel meeting them? And how does it feel when they – or you – leave again?


  • What exactly do you do when you are working? Do you work with certain materials, or people, or just your thoughts?


  • Do you spend most of your work time sitting, or standing, or moving about?


  • How do you really like what you are doing and how you are doing it?


  • Now think of the rewards you reap for your work, the material ones – the money – and also the appreciation and other types of reward. Or the lack of it. How does all that make you feel?

Phew… Those were a lot of questions, I know. Good job for trying to picture and embody your work situation!

So, how did your body feel as you went from question to question, letting your mind and body drift through the stack of memories you got stored inside you?

Were there certain aspects that, as you pictured them, were accompanied by a noteworthy shift in your body? What shift? Do you have an inkling what it is trying to tell you?

My guess is: If there are aspects of your work situation that are not in alignment with who you are, with your values and needs, this gap will cause stress in you, one way or another.

Listen to the tension and let it guide you to what needs changing.

Part 4 – How Authentic Are You in Your Relationships?

Ready to leave your work life behind? Let’s look at your relationships next. Whichever applies to you, your relationship with friends, family members, and a partner or partners.

  • The first question I want to ask you is: Do the people you care about most truly know you? Can you entrust them with your full heart, your desires, your fears, your weaknesses, your dreams?


  • Think of the most guarded parts of yourself – everyone has them and you’ll certainly know exactly what I am referring to: What feelings come up as you picture yourself sharing these vulnerable treasures with your friends and loved ones? Do you feel safe bringing your whole self to them? With whom don’t you? In your mind’s eye, toggle through the faces of those people closest to you when answering these questions for each one of them.


  • Generally, in your relationships, do you have to downplay, polish, or leave out certain aspects of yourself in order to be liked, loved, and belong?


  • Apart from those aspects you might not dare bring to the table, there may also be some aspects you have adopted over time in order to blend in with your environment. As social beings, we tend to adapt to the people we spend a lot of time with. That’s not per sé wrong. Actually, that which other people bring into our lives carries a great potential for enrichment & growth.!


  • So, where do you stand? Do your relationships tend to bring out your full self, do they help you blossom and grow even more into the person that you are? Or do your relationships require you to mould yourself into a person that is not really you? Have you adopted certain ways of thinking, speaking, dressing, spending money, or engaging in activities etc. that feel wrong?


  • When and with whom do you feel relaxed, open, joyful, and alive?


  • When and with whom do you feel tense, on guard, inhibited, small?

I’ll give you another moment to linger on these questions, so you can listen to your body’s answers…

Okay, it’s time to come back to me again. Now you have visualized and reflected on situations of your work life and also of your relationships with others, to detect signs of how aligned, how authentic – or inauthentic – you feel there.

Part 5 – How Authentic Are You With… Yourself?

There is another aspect I invite you to look at. And it is another form of relationship, namely: The relationship with yourself. How well do you think you know yourself?

Again, I am going to ask you a couple of questions and you are invited to visualize situations that you have lived through and to be really, really honest with yourself in answering these questions.

  • Let’s start with a lovely question. “Lovely”, because I want to know: What do you love about yourself? (How about you say it out loud? Give yourself some compliments!)


  • Now the opposite: And what do you have difficulties accepting about yourself?


  • Do you regularly take time to be present with yourself and reflect, like you are doing right now?


  • If you don’t do that… is there a reason? Is it uncomfortable for you just to sit with yourself – exposed to your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations – without a distraction?


  • What emotional baggage are you running away from?


  • Do you take a break and take care of your body – or your soul – when it tells you it doesn’t feel well or has certain needs? Or do you rather tend to get busy or occupy your mind with other things?


  • Do you take your needs and wants seriously?


  • Do you have your own back in living your life authentically, or does your loyalty rather lie with what other people think you should do with your life?

These questions can be the toughest to reflect on. Authenticity has two levels: Being true to yourself out in the world, amongst other people. And being honest with yourself. It all starts with the latter. If you don’t have the will or the means to be honest with yourself, you are moving through life lacking orientation.

Part 6 – Envision How Your Life Could Be Different

And to make sure you have that orientation, I invite you to a fourth visualization and reflection exercise, to conclude this self-reflection time for you. I want you now to focus your attention on what COULD be.

  • What has the exercise I guided you through so far unveiled for you?


  • In the very beginning, I asked you what it feels like to be truly you, to be truly authentic, to be fully, unapologetically, peacefully yourself. For your life, do you want more of what your body feels like when you are in your truth?


  • What change could give you more of the joy, the aliveness, the peace or whatever being authentic feels like for you?


  • For this last exercise, pick one aspect of your work, your relationships, or yet another area of your life… and visualize what it would look like if you were truly yourself!


  • What positive impact would this change – small or big – have on the quality of your life at the moment, in one year, and in ten years’ time?

Take a moment to truly visualize it. Start with the details as you envision yourself in the situation where the change would occur.

And then slowly, gradually, as if you were moving a camera that captures this scene, move up and look at the scene with increasing distance.

Widen the frame your camera catches.

See the ripple effects of this change move through other parts of your life.

See it all with increasing distance from way up there.

As what you see gets smaller and smaller, and yet wider and wider, you see now, that it is all connected, don’t you?

And then, let the image fade. Take a deep breath.


I want to congratulate you for sticking with this exercise, for doing the honest, tough work of self-reflection. It is worth it!

Because authenticity is a key to our mental and physical health. For real, scientific research has established this relationship over and over again.

Authenticity, alignment – whatever you want to call it – is not a luxury, it is a human need.

That does not mean that we should always put our own needs first, or that we should never adapt, or compromise for the sake of others. It is not about being egotistical.

Instead, it is about being aware of who you are and moving through this life with agency and respect for yourself. It is knowing that you have MORE to give when you tap into the vast well of your being, rather than serving from the shallow waters of a persona in shackles.

Know that you are valid and worthy and beautiful the way you are.

I really hope this exercise can give you a valuable nudge towards an even more whyld, authentic life!

photos: đỗ ngọc tú-quyên, Karolina Grabowska, Thirdman, Craig Adderley, Elevate, Andrea Piacquadio, Barbara Olsen (thanks to Pexels)

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[…] If you prefer READING the exercise instructions, you can find them in this blog article. […]

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