Get Real in 2012: Twelve Reasons to Seek a More Authentic Life Next Year
Lose 20 pounds. Join the gym. Make more money. (Insert your self-improvement goal here.) If these resolutions are stressing you out, Kathleen McIntire and Erin Cote say it may be time to take a deeper look at what you’re really longing for— an authentic life that really works for you.
Nevada City, CA (December 2011)—It’s that time again. Time to examine ourselves with a critical eye and figure out what we “should” do in the upcoming year—and this year we really are going to do it, right?—to get thinner, fitter, richer, more organized. Better. The way we approach the new year speaks volumes about our relentless (and exhausting) need to achieve, improve and do more, says Kathleen McIntire. But what if this year, you realized that better and more are nothing but illusions?
What if you resolved to quit worrying about becoming more anything in 2012— except more yourself? “So many of us live out our lives as slaves to the tyranny of should,” notes McIntire, creator of Guiding Signs 101, a set of powerful, yet fun road sign-inspired “intuition cards” that come with a guidebook that explains the meaning of each. “Year after year we strive to become what others—parents, partners, experts, society—tell us we should be. And then, one day, we wake up and realize we never got to let go and just be our real selves.” Authenticity is the heart and soul of McIntire’s message. In collaboration with artist Erin Cote, she developed her cards and guidebook to serve as a “bridge” to help people get in touch with their own intuition and wisdom—to help us access our own, often buried understanding of what we truly want and need out of life. “The irony is that many of the issues we try to ‘fix’ with our New Year’s resolutions—addictions, excess weight, financial problems—are often byproducts of inauthentic lives,” adds Cote. “We eat too much or drink too much or spend too much to try to cope with lives that aren’t really working for us. “When we focus on being authentic, on really getting to know and accept ourselves for who we are, most of these problems solve themselves,” she continues. “And sometimes we realize what we thought we had to have is no longer important.” What happens when you make “Live with more authenticity” your New Year’s resolution? McIntire and Cote insist there are many benefits:
Quite simply, you’ll be happier. When our actions line up with our beliefs and values, we feel more joy and peace. We love and accept ourselves. Life flows smoothly along instead of being one struggle after another. When we go against who we really are, we experience cognitive dissonance—a feeling of anxiety or internal conflict. Living a lie— whether you’re gay and in the closet, stuck in a bad marriage, or working at a job you hate—just feels bad.
“When we try to be something we’re not, we may find ourselves in situations we just don’t enjoy,” says Cote. “To give a simple example, a woman who pretends to love sports to impress her boyfriend will find herself at a lot of football games, freezing her
butt off and bored out of her mind.”
You’ll be healthier, too. Our minds can trick us or even lie to us, but our bodies hold the truth, says McIntire. Headaches, backaches, stomach problems, weight gain—all are ways that our bodies let us know we are not honoring our true selves.
“For many years I was a corporate wife living in London,” she explains. “I frequently had to entertain clients and deeply disliked everything about it. I had horrible backaches and headaches, had cold hands and feet and always felt tired and depressed. One day I told my husband I couldn’t do it anymore. I was done. And when I moved to Nevada City, to the forest and to nature, my aches and pains magically disappeared.”
“My body was screaming at me that I had been in the wrong place,” adds McIntire. “When I finally listened, my body showed me I was in the right place. I now feel good all the time. Your body is always talking to you: the knot in your stomach, the tenseness when you see a certain person, the fear or apprehension. The places that make you skip and play and sing are those places that make your heart soar.”
Your relationships will become richer and more meaningful. If you’re hiding something or faking feelings, you won’t really connect with others: romantic partners, friends or family members. What you say won’t resonate. The relationship will stagnate. When you live authentically, on the other hand, you challenge and inspire the others in your life and they challenge and inspire you. You both learn and grow. “Plus, you attract the right people into your life,” says McIntire. “When you are true to yourself, when you are doing what inspires you and what you are passionate about, you will attract other people who are doing that also. The only way they can love you is if the real you shows up.”
You’ll have a greater capacity for love. When we love ourselves as we are, we can love others as they are, too. Living with authenticity means we’re in touch with our emotions. We laugh and cry when we need to laugh and cry (rather than worry about how it looks or what we “should” be feeling).
“When we can feel and accept our own emotions, we can relate to the emotional needs of others,” says Cote. “From this state of being flow compassion, understanding and the willingness to forgive. These are the raw ingredients of love.”
You’ll be more intuitive (and willing to be guided by intuition). Authenticity and intuition go hand in hand. When we’re no longer lying to ourselves and others, or desperately trying not to feel what we feel, we can more clearly hear the still small voice of our inner wisdom. Once we can hear that voice and learn to let it guide us, says McIntire, we will realize it’s okay to stop listening to outside authorities.
“My Guiding Signs cards help hone intuition because they validate what we’re already feeling,” she explains. “You might draw the Wrong Way card realize that the job offer you’re considering isn’t right for you. What’s more, you realize that you’ve known it all along. That’s intuition. It’s always been there, it’ll always be there—but it can’t guide you unless you’re willing to let it.”
You’ll make decisions that are right for YOU. Knowing who we are is the heart and soul of authenticity. It allows us to ignore outside influences and buck convention. When you know yourself well enough to say, “I am happier living alone” you may have the courage and insight to turn down a marriage proposal from the perfect (on paper) partner. Or maybe you’ll say, “I need to work to be fulfilled and financially secure” rather than caving to pressure to quit your job to be a stay-at-home mom.
“Living an authentic life means we’re less likely to be manipulated or used by others,” Cote explains. “It means not worrying about what the neighbors think. And you know what? When you’re at peace with yourself you really don’t care what they think.”
You’ll become more powerful. Power is not about having power over anyone else. True power comes from being you. There is no one else exactly like you with your unique gifts and talents. You simply need to beam who you are out into the world. McIntire notes that the word beam is BE-AM…being your deepest I am self without all the roles and masks society has taught you.
“This power manifests in many ways,” she notes. “We become teachers, leaders and counselors to others. People are drawn to us. They trust us. Success and prosperity—as we define it, not necessarily as society defines it—flows into our life.”
People will trust you. When you’re a truthsayer, you’ll become a trusted advisor to others. They know you’ll tell it like it is rather than blowing smoke. They’ll also know your word is your bond—they won’t doubt that you’ll keep their secrets, keep your
promises and repay the loan.
“Without trust, nothing would ever get done,” says Cote. “It allows us to marry, to have children, to build houses, to make business deals. Being a trustworthy person opens up all sorts of opportunities and, of course, allows us to build strong relationships.”
You’ll bring out the best in others (instead of trying to control them). When you’re living authentically, you trust the universe and your place in it. You don’t have the need to micromanage others, or bend them to your will, or put conditions on your love and approval. This allows the people inside your sphere of influence the space they need to breathe, to be themselves, to grow into what they’re meant to be. When you give someone this gift, it’s amazing what life can hold in store for them.
“About 27 years ago I was living in London for the first time and a friend shared a touching story with me from her childhood,” says McIntire. “She was young and in a Catholic grade school. She brought home her report card to her mother. It was a terrible
report card and the only positive thing about it was that she had a note about good table manners written in the place for comments.”
“Her mother read the report card, set it down and called the Ritz Hotel restaurant and made reservations for two,” she continues. “She told her daughter, ‘I think I need to take you to one of the finest restaurants in London so you can use your fine table manners!’ They went to lunch and afterward they were window shopping and her mother asked her what she would most like. It was a tube of red art paint. Now that she is grown, she is an amazing artist with work displayed in the National Portrait Gallery in London as well as other places.”
You’ll attract “luck” into your life. Some might say that the little girl in the story above got lucky in her career. McIntire insists that her so-called luck was a natural result of being allowed to be who she authentically was. Rather than being browbeaten for who she wasn’t (a great scholar) she was rewarded for who she was (a well-mannered child with a budding artist longing to break free). And even if you didn’t have such an open- hearted mother, if you can learn to embrace your true passions—even now, at whatever age you are—life will reveal its riches to you.
“When we follow that unique spark inside us we find that walls turn into doors,” says McIntire. “Amazing opportunities open up in our lives. The right people appear at the right time. Everything flows easily and organically. On the other hand, when we’re
(miserably) doing what we’re ‘supposed’ to do, luck won’t show up. Quite the opposite. It’s the universe whispering ever more insistently that you’re on the wrong path.”
You’ll become a conscious creator. Authenticity means living consciously. Rather thanseeing ourselves as victims who passively let life happen to us, we pay attention to our beliefs, our thoughts and our actions. We weed out what does not belong there. We set clear intentions. We ask powerful questions such as What is our highest calling? What are our deepest passions? What do we want to bring forth on our planet not only for ourselves but for all life? All of this breeds success and happiness.
“In each present moment exist endless possibilities,” says McIntire. “Each of us is a spark of the Divine. We each have the ability to create. Creating is our birthright. Every moment we are creating. It is part of who we are and is not outside of ourselves. The choice is if we are creating unconsciously or consciously. When we create unconsciously, we see ourselves as victims. When create consciously and lovingly, we live in integrity.”
You’ll receive confirmation through signs and synchronicities. Astonishing things can happen when you stop listening to “the experts” and start letting intuition guide you, says Cote. You’ll start getting messages in all sorts of (seemingly) random ways: people, animals, events, objects, songs will show up to mirror what’s going on in your life. These synchronicities serve as signs that you’re on the right path. Often, in fact, they’re actual signs—McIntire’s and Cote’s Guiding Signs cards, for instance, or the road sign in the following story from a friend of theirs:
After a healing session, my client Randy was a little disorientated. He was visiting, Jackson Wyoming, and didn’t know his way around town. He ended up turning down the wrong street. When he noticed this he pulled over. He realized he was distracted by
a question he was thinking about. He closed his eyes and asked, “Am I meant to do the Reconnective Healing training? Please give me a sign.”
When he opened his eyes the first thing he saw was the street sign, E Pearl. Dr. Eric Pearl is the name of the man that teaches the Reconnective Healing course! That street sign is the only E Pearl in Jackson. – K’Lea Andreas
There’s nothing mysterious or difficult about living authentically, says McIntire. It’s literally just a matter of allowing ourselves to be what we are created to be. “We are the ones who feel that we have to improve, to achieve, to somehow earn the right be loved by ourselves and by others,” she explains. “Maybe we’re conditioned to believe that by abusive parents or by the society we grow up in. Whatever the reason, we picked up that burden and we can also lay it down. “There is a law of physics that you can’t make more of or take away from energy,” add McIntire. “We are all we need to be. We are perfect. In the end, love is all there is—and in love there is no big or small, it can’t be measured. That’s a human concept. We don’t have to lose 20 pounds or make a million dollars. Our only job is to show up in love.”
Love Is an Inside Job: Six Reasons to
Fall in Love with Yourself This Valentine’s Day
For many people, Valentine’s Day is a depressing time that primarily highlights
a lack of love in their lives. It doesn’t have to be that way, says Kathleen McIntire.
Real love (not to mention its soul sister happiness) isn’t about another
person—it’s about accepting and embracing who you are right this minute.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Everywhere you look, you see pink-and-red, heart-shaped, candy-coated evidence that being one half of a couple should be your highest aspiration. If you’re not paired off, the greeting cards and commercials scream, you’re “less than.” So if you’re single, you’d better ramp up your efforts to find Mr. or Ms. Right! And if you’re in a relationship that doesn’t make you glow with joy every moment, well, you’re clearly with the wrong person. You’d better not waste any time starting your search for someone more suitable…or at least, you ought to work harder just in case your current partner really is the right one for you.
Pay attention to the words you just read. Effort. Find. Search. Work. Wrong. Do they seem very “Valentine-ish” to you? Do they fill your heart with peace, joy, and fulfillment? If your answer is no, Kathleen McIntire says that what you’re thinking of as love really isn’t love at all.
“As a culture, we fervently believe that love—and by extension, our ultimate happiness—can be found only outside of ourselves,” points out McIntire, author and creator of Guiding Signs 101 , a set of powerful yet fun road sign-inspired “wisdom cards” that come with a guidebook that explains the meaning of each. “Around Valentine’s Day especially, we seem to believe that love can best be found in the form of a romantic partner, but that’s just one manifestation of our need to strive for something outside of ourselves.”
McIntire explains that other manifestations of this compulsion to seek external fulfillment include the belief that we must live at the right address….or work at the right job…or wear the right dress size.
“The problem is, none of these things—from romantic partners to full bank accounts—have the power to bring us lasting joy,” she says. “Here’s the bottom line: Love, real love, is an inside job. I truly believe that we all hold the key to our own deepest happiness and to unconditional love.
“You don’t need to find anyone or do anything or get any better than you are right now,” she adds. “Single, married, divorced, straight, gay, whatever, you’re perfect the way you are right this minute. In other words, acceptance is love—simply being okay with what is!”
As February 14th approaches, there’s no better time to develop a loving relationship with yourself. Read on for six benefits McIntire says you’ll reap:
• You’ll be happier. Many of our actions and decisions are motivated by what we think we should do or by what others tell us we’re supposed to do. However, any time you listen to what others say is right for you without consulting your own desires and needs, you honor outsiders over your own inner wisdom. Of course you’ll experience feelings of dissatisfaction and resistance! When you love yourself, though, you’ll instinctively prioritize an authentic life that fulfills you and causes you to grow and glow. It is this field of positive energy that will attract happy people into your life. What a relief to finally stop pleasing others or conform to expectations, and simply be.
• You’ll be healthier. Many of our health problems stem from negative thinking, poor attitudes, and even self-loathing. In order to obtain a few fleeting moments of satisfaction and fulfillment, we eat too much, drink too much, and invest our time in unhealthy relationships. And in order to create “successful” lives, we subject ourselves to too much stress and anxiety. When we learn to love ourselves, though, we naturally want to nourish our bodies and spirits.
• You’ll feel more confident. When you don’t hold yourself in high esteem, neither will other people. And when others treat you as unimportant and disposable, you’ll feel even worse about yourself. (Plus, trying to constantly please other people is anxiety-provoking and exhausting since this behavior comes from a place of fear, not love.) It’s a vicious cycle that can be broken only when you see yourself as a worthy, valuable, and important human being, just as you are. When you view yourself with this kind of love and respect, people will be drawn to you and will want to work with you rather than against you.
• You’ll be a better partner. When you are confident and content being who you are, you’ll not only be more likely to attract someone who complements, challenges, and fulfills you, you’ll also be better equipped to love him or her. After all, you’ll be happier and more fun to be around. You won’t be needy or risk co-dependency. And because you respect yourself, you’ll naturally create the boundaries that keep you from becoming a martyr or doormat.
• Your relationships will improve. Developing a loving relationship with yourself won’t just impact your romantic relationships. All of your relationships improve: with your kids, friends, coworkers, and more. That’s partly because you won’t be allowing others’ opinions to determine your self-worth, and partly because you’ll be drawn more strongly to people with whom you can cultivate meaningful, nourishing relationships. And conversely, they will be drawn to you, too!
• Your life will flow more smoothly. When you are an authentic, self-confident person with an inner wellspring of love upon which to draw, you’ll attract more positive opportunities into your life. You’ll no longer set up roadblocks with defeatist thinking, and you’ll have an increased desire to share your talents and strengths.
“When I advocate looking inside yourself for love and happiness, I’m not trying to imply that we don’t need other people in our lives; in fact, authentic relationships can enhance our happiness and challenge us in all the right ways,” McIntire clarifies. “But the fact is, you’ll never be able to develop those relationships, romantic or otherwise, if you don’t learn to love yourself first. In a very real way, finding the love you’re looking for is first and foremost an inside job.”
I Can’t Help Falling in Love with…Me:
Eight Ways to Develop a Loving Relationship with Yourself
Insights from Kathleen McIntire, creator of Guiding Signs 101
We all know intellectually that we should love ourselves. But putting this knowledge into practice is a whole different story. How do you drown out the voices telling you that you should be thinner, richer, funnier, more fashionable, more youthful, and so forth? How do you jump off the exhausting hamster wheel of harmful thoughts and emotions that drag you down? How do you start truly believing that yes, you are worthy of all the love you have to give…right this minute?
Kathleen McIntire offers the following tips and insights:
First, realize that you aren’t treating yourself with love. While not accepting, loving, and valuing yourself can manifest in many ways, here are some common culprits:
- Seeing yourself as a victim
- Blaming yourself for disappointing or undesirable circumstances
- Being judgmental and/or critical of yourself
- Feeling that the weight of the world is on your shoulders
- Consistently looking for someone (or something) to make you happy
Perhaps you’ve spent your entire life being weighed down by these thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions, listening to these critical and judgmental voices, without even realizing what a terrible disservice you’re doing yourself.
McIntire says her own “aha” moment happened a little over a year ago. She was on the beach in Mexico feeling engulfed with angst and sadness that all her years of striving to be a better person, better speaker, better writer, better everything had not changed her into the amazing person she wanted to become. Suddenly, in a flash of insight, she realized that all her struggles were wasted energy.
“I realized that according to the law of physics, energy cannot be made into more or less,” she describes. “It simply is what it is. The shape can be transformed, like water and ice, but no one can ever be more than what they are. I realized I could stop the endless gymnastic gyrations to mold me into something else. In that moment I saw that I was perfect just the way I was. I didn’t have to be better or different.
“I saw that God/Source had created me and I was perfect,” she adds. “I saw that all there is is love and love can’t be measured. There isn’t big love and small love, with small love being not as good as big love. No, love is simply love and can not be measured. I loved others. I could love myself too. I could accept myself exactly as I was.”
Stop expecting perfection. It doesn’t exist. In order to love yourself, you have to accept the fact that you are going to make mistakes and that you’ll never achieve perfection. (And what if perfection is an illusion, anyway?) When you constantly expect every aspect of your life to be just-so, you inevitably end up judging yourself, blaming yourself, and resenting yourself.
So what if you’ve gained 10 pounds in the past year? So what if you haven’t had time to touch up your roots? So what if your house is a little messy? Who wrote the rule book that says everyone needs to be a size eight, have perfect hair, and live in a spotless house? (Probably no one you’d want to share a bottle of wine with, that’s for sure!) And ask yourself this: If you see yourself as a screw-up and a let-down, why should a partner (or friend, or boss, or mentor) view you any differently?
“Reframe how you see mistakes by first forgiving yourself and then by asking yourself what you’ve learned,” suggests McIntire. “Give thanks for the opportunity to grow and become wiser. This attitude will keep you from dwelling on limiting and punishing thoughts and sabotaging your intention to love yourself.”
Focus on the joys, successes, and blessings in your life. Consciously focus on your blessings, successes, and joys. Again, instead of dwelling on disappointments and failures, examine each situation to see what you have learned, then let it go and move on. McIntire recommends doing an Evening Review each night by thinking of the last thing that happened to you, then retracing your steps back through the day to when you woke up. You’ll see exactly how things came together with fresh eyes, and you might just begin to look at your life in a whole new appreciative way.
“I have found that by doing the Evening Review, I become more conscious of my day and my life,” she shares. “And instead of going to bed focusing on the two or three things I didn’t get to do or wasn’t satisfied with, I am amazed at all I did do. I also find myself feeling thankful for the people I had an opportunity to be with and love. After the Evening Review I go to bed in such a place of awe and gratitude. I am honestly thrilled to be me.”
Allow yourself to really feel your feelings. We allow s-words—“should” and “supposed to”—to rule our lives. As a result, we ignore or push away authentic feelings and reactions. For example, you’re “supposed to” be calm and collected, so you may resist allowing emotions like sadness or anger to be present. That’s a mistake. It’s important to allow yourself to acknowledge and experience everything you feel.
“I have found that when you allow yourself to completely feel a certain emotion, you’ll often ‘drop’ to another underlying feeling, which will in turn ‘drop’ you to another, and so on,” McIntire explains. “You keep dropping until, finally, you drop into joy and bliss and love. But you have to experience and explore each feeling fully and completely before it drops to the next one.
“That’s where many people have trouble,” she adds. “They don’t realize that by cutting off one feeling, usually an unpleasant one, we cut off all our feelings. That includes love, joy, bliss, and happiness, as well as the sadness and anger that we don’t want to feel. So if you feel the need to cry or maybe to confront someone with your true feelings, do it. It’s the only way to get to the feelings that support love.”
Be who you are—not who others say you are, who you wish you were, or who you want to be. Throughout our lives, from childhood on, others assign characteristics to us. They can be positive (Wow, you’re so smart!) or negative (You’re such a wallflower!). We tend to cling to the positive characteristics while trying to shed or hide the negative ones. And eventually, “you” becomes more of a mask than an authentic person. If you want to show yourself love and respect, it’s time to let go of old, outdated beliefs that don’t represent the truth of who you are.
McIntire points out that a lot of our suffering comes from trying to make ourselves (or another person or situation) different from what simply is…which is an exercise in futility.
“Look inward and identify old beliefs that are no longer serving you and that are holding you back from living your best life; for example, I am unlovable. Allow yourself to feel one more time what carrying each belief is like,” she instructs. “Then, let it go. I use a method that I was told came from Dr. Roger Callahan that is very effective when it comes to shedding old, erroneous beliefs…just like deleting a file on your computer.
“Just bring the sides of your hands together in a ‘karate chop’ motion, letting them touch directly below each of your little fingers,” she adds. “As you repeat this motion, say: I deeply and completely love, accept, and respect myself, even though I needed to believe I was not worthy of love (or whatever outmoded belief you are working with). Repeat this phrase over and over and over again while doing the karate chop.”
Don’t allow others to narrate your story. As we go through life, lots of things “happen” to us. You may not always be able to choose which events and circumstances come into your life, but you can decide what meaning you attach to them, and whether or not your story is self-affirming.
In the context of relationships, say for example that you and your significant other have separated. You can create a story of fear and being a victim: He/she left me because I’m a failure and a disappointment. Or, you can create a story of love and empowerment: Our relationship ended because we were no longer pushing each other to grow in positive ways. It is best for us to part paths so that we can continue becoming our best selves.
“We can create a new story any time we choose,” says McIntire. “Once you realize this, you will find it truly liberating. Why would you choose a story to beat yourself up with? When you love yourself, you won’t. It’s that simple.”
Show yourself the love you’ve been seeking. You don’t have to wait to hear the words of love and affirmation you’ve been seeking from others. (If that’s your strategy, there’s no telling how long you’ll wait!) Right now, you can look into your own eyes in a mirror and say all the things you’d like to hear from another. Mean what you say. For example: All is well. I am deeply loved and I love deeply.
“When you change the way you view and treat yourself, you’ll find that others start treating you differently as well,” promises McIntire. “Remember, it’s okay to receive love and appreciation from others. But it’s also okay—and encouraged!—to give those things to yourself. The fact is, the only person you can count on to continually show you love is you!”
Engage in what you find meaningful. You have passions, strengths, talents, interests, and curiosities that are unique to you. And when you are in touch with those things, your life will light up and you will live from a place of happiness, fulfillment, and love. If you love to hike, hike. If you love to paint, paint. If you love to garden, garden. Don’t wait until “someday” to jump in and do the things you love with all your heart and soul. Today is yesterday’s “someday”—so why not seize it and make it a day you can rejoice in?
“It’s never too late to resurrect that childlike feeling that your world is truly wondrous,” McIntire assures. “Build new rituals and traditions around whatever you find meaningful and magical, and you’ll experience renewed joy and nourishment with the people you love…and most importantly, with yourself.”
About the Author:
Kathleen McIntire is a transformational teacher, speaker, and healer who is dedicated to bringing forth truth, liberation, and awakening. She is the author and creator of Guiding Signs 101, a set of divination cards and guidebook using everyday road signs to tap into your intuition and own inner guidance.
She is the steward of MoonBear Sanctuary, located on 28 acres in Northern California. The retreat center located there provides cutting-edge workshops as well as ceremonies, study groups, and symposiums. Kathleen, whose focus is on restoring the feminine power, also leads sacred journeys with women. She has led journeys to the Andes and rainforest of Ecuador and Guatemala.
Kathleen is the producer of two upcoming Mayan films. The first, Mayan Renaissance, is being made by PeaceJam, an international education program for youth built around leading Nobel Peace Laureates. The other film is The Unification of Wisdom and 2012. She is a presenter on the Womens Empowerment (WE) Channel on the CANDO Networks.
When she was younger Kathleen had a successful career in business. She has lived abroad and traveled extensively around the world. Kathleen’s website addresses are www.soaringinlight.com and www.guidingsigns101.com.