Learn how to make time for authenticity in your life – and why it will change your life for the better.
Lynda Schmidt spent twenty-six years in a relationship that didn’t allow her to be herself. During those busy years, she focused on her family and career as a teacher, limiting time for self-awareness. Consumed by her perceived limitations, she lost sight of herself and, in fact, she didn’t know who her authentic self was.
In fact, she hadn’t known her true self since she was a young child. . A series of traumatic experiences caused her to turn her back on self-discovery. And before she knew it, three decades went by in which her emotions, desires, and needs became blurred with those around her.
It took a catalyst – a “point of no return” – for her to make a choice. She either had to rediscover herself or suffer a spiritual death. And so, Lynda committed to making time for authenticity. She opened herself up to the work and possibility of her inner journey.
How did it go?
Well, since that point, Lynda’s found love and created a new and healthier marriage. She’s embarked upon a new career as a writer. She even found the opportunity to publish a book.
But more importantly, she found herself.
It’s a lesson that we can all learn from, no matter our age or story.
What is authenticity?
Authenticity is knowing who you are and allowing yourself to be that person. It requires self-awareness to understand yourself and the courage to express it to the world. When we’re authentic, we’re not afraid to share our truths with the world, even if they might not “fit in” with the cultural norms.
Authenticity happens in the big moments and the little moments of life. It might involve what we say, how we choose to fill our time, and who we decide to prioritize in our lives. On a grander scale, it might involve our careers, relationships, and family decisions.
Making time for authenticity isn’t a one-time decision. It’s the never-ending repetition of choices. How we express ourselves through our appearance, words, and actions all provide everyday opportunities for authenticity. Eventually, they build up to an authentic life.
I had the privilege of interviewing Lynda Schmidt and asking her about her thoughts on authenticity. In our conversation, she said, “You’ve got to do your own work. You’ve got to go inward and trust yourself. The point is to see that it’s possible to evolve and grow and become more authentic.”
Once you open yourself up to the possibility, the work can begin.
Why is it so difficult to make time for authenticity?
You don’t need to be stuck in an unhealthy relationship to lose yourself. Our lives are filled with obstacles that make authenticity difficult. The majority of us don’t make time for authenticity – when time is precisely what we need.
You see, humans are incredibly bad at self-awareness. (I’m talking, a kindergartener trying to take a physics exam level terrible.) Our outdated survival instincts and brain biases often make our perceptions inaccurate. Emotions influence our thoughts and behaviors more than we realize, and deeply-rooted human tendencies control us more than we’d like to admit.
One of these tendencies is our need for social belonging. Lynda talked about how challenging this can be to our inner journey. “Social expectations from parents, peers, and culture hold us back from authenticity,” she said. “We struggle to break away from society’s parameters about how to look and act a certain way.”
If you’ve ever felt torn between what you “should” do and what you want to do, then you’ve experienced this struggle. It’s impossible not to.
Lynda also described the lack of emphasis we place on the importance of authenticity. “I believe people are born connected to their intuition and energy. We’re born feeling jazzed about ourselves,” she says. “That often erodes as we get older.”
And when we feel like we have no direction, many of us lose further confidence in our inner voice.
“The Healing” Shows How to Make Time for Authenticity: Life is an Ebb and Flow
Lynda’s newly published book The Healing details a woman’s journey in finding herself and overcoming past traumas. Written as fiction but based on Lynda’s real-life experiences, The Healing is a very personal exploration of what it means to be well, to live your authentic purpose, and how to transform challenges into growth.
The main character, Cate, undergoes a series of challenges. Even after she finds herself in a romantic, “fairytale-esque” relationship, her life is not simple. She faces illness, family issues, and culture shock after moving to a new country. And while satisfying, the book does not end “happily ever after.”
Lynda chose this ending on purpose. The ending – and the whole book – serves as a metaphor for the ebb and flow of life. “It’s all about the balance,” she said. “We need to teach ourselves to be more balanced and be more complex, honoring the different aspects of ourselves.”
The battle (and it is a battle) for authenticity is ever-changing. What might be true for us one day could change the next. That’s why making time for authenticity isn’t about trying to overcome hardship and achieve a “finished result.” Instead, it’s about being most true to ourselves in the present moment.
Living authentically means allowing yourself to be open to your own evolution – obstacles, reroutes, and all.
How to Make Time for Authenticity
Lynda didn’t have an epiphany that magically made her self-aware. Instead, she dedicated time and effort to the journey of self-discovery. Her book is not a “how-to,” but instead a story to remind others that we can discover ourselves if we make time for it and if we make a conscious decision to pursue it.
If you want to live a more authentic life, consider following the themes that Lynda’s book contains:
Look inward instead of outward.
When we focus so much on what other people think and feel, we fail to make the space for what we think and feel. Unfortunately, our overabundance of media doesn’t help discourage this external focus. We must learn how to turn our focus inward rather than outward. It can be terrifying to reflect inward and face hard questions, but it’s the only way we’ll find genuine answers.
Focus on the journey, not the destination.
It can be easy to get sucked into harmful rumination and uncertainty. Our brains are quick to latch onto our mistakes and insecurities. We’ve got to defend ourselves against these natural tendencies by shifting our focus toward growth.
Lynda discussed this mindset shift in her interview. Instead of asking, “Why did this happen to me?” we should ask, “What can I learn from this experience? How can I grow from it?”
When you zoom out and look through a lens of growth, the mistakes along the way don’t seem as daunting.
Remind yourself that vulnerability is worth it.
If I had to break authenticity into two steps, I’d say they are this. One: discovering who your authentic self is. And two: being courageous enough to present that authentic self to the world. It’s incredibly vulnerable to put our true selves out there, especially when we don’t know if other people will accept them. But the enormous benefits of being vulnerable are worth it.
Lynda reminds us that these acts of vulnerability are worth it. She admits that emotional risks don’t always end ideally for us; sometimes, we get hurt by other people. However, these risks – and survivals – help teach us our strength and value. From there, we can be more open to the possibility of our lives.
Learn to trust yourself.
As you make time for authenticity, you’re bound to hit some stumbling blocks. You’ll feel stronger at some points than others, and outside voices will no doubt get into your head. Learning to listen to yourself – and then trust what you hear – takes time.
Most of us grow up being taught to look outward for answers. Impactful events and traumatic experiences further undermine our trust in ourselves. Lynda talked about how little education and social values do to teach children how to listen to their intuition.
The journey to authenticity requires us to relearn how to listen to ourselves. This trust in our intuition takes time, but you’ll never look back.
Embrace the importance of authenticity and of loving your authentic self.
Choosing to discover and be your authentic self isn’t easy. Therefore, you’ve got to be committed to your inner work. If you ever feel your motivation waning, remind yourself why it’s essential. Until you can be your true self, you’ll never fully discover the purpose and meaning that your life has in store for you.
Lynda described the decision to live authentically as this: “It’s being aware of who you are and what lights you up. This is how we take the gift of our lives and make it the best it can be. That’s honoring our life.”
Conclusion: Make Time for Authenticity
Not everyone shares Lynda’s history, but many of us share the central conflict. We haven’t made time for authenticity, and, as a result, we haven’t discovered our true selves.
Lynda’s inner work journey brought her to write a book called The Healing. Yours might not bring you to a writing book, but it will bring you to where you’re meant to go.
About The Healing
Based on true events, The Healing is the story of Cate Henderson, who, after twenty-six years in an abusive relationship, sets out on a quest to find healing. Cate packs up everything she owns and leaves Calgary on an odyssey westward to Vancouver Island, where her ever-present journal and the abundance of nature become the foundation of her self-recovery.
She yearns for something deeper, and then, when she isn’t looking, she finds love with the solid and virtuous Ethan. Cate thinks his steadfast love is what she is searching for, but soon realizes she needs to do her own work. That love for herself is the key.
Cate gets thrown off-course when Lyme Disease, an earthquake in Nepal, her daughter’s mental health challenges, and her move with Ethan to the Middle East, cause her to lose her newfound awareness. Her heart calls her to endure the lows and enjoy the highs, to let go of the ties that bind and the fear that controls. With echoes of Eat, Pray, Love, The Healing is a raw and vulnerable exploration of human resilience. At times both painful and uplifting, it’s a story about love, examining motherhood, partnership, grief, expectation, and optimism, and the journey inward to self-love.
Learn more about The Healing and the author Lynda Schmidt’s incredible story on her website.