Imagine an orange! All you can see is the peel. You don’t have to peel it to know what’s inside. The outside is consistent with the inside. Now think of a gift box. To know what’s inside you have to unwrap it. The outside is not the same as the inside. The inside is a surprise. Most of the time we are like gift boxes, surprises. Some have prettier wrapping paper or flashier bows than others, but nevertheless gift boxes. Too seldom are we oranges. Too seldom are we authentic.

Inconsistency between the inside and the person we present to the world creates tremendous conflicts in our lives. The Oxford dictionary defines being authentic as being true to your own character. Have you ever found yourself laughing because everyone else did or agreed with an opinion that you didn’t share? Did you ever do something inconsistent with your true self just to please, get attention or get what you wanted? Of course we all have.

Dan, a single dad rented a Porsche to impress his date, while being delinquent in child support. How cool is that? Jane supported and voted for a political party because most of her clients belonged to it. Yet, she neither had faith in the candidate or the agenda of this party. How did we come to live as gift boxes?When you were born there was nothing you had to do to be loved. Back then you were unpretentious and spontaneous. You smiled when you felt like it and cried when you were upset. You had the courage to be you. You were an orange. Then the agenda changed. You were taught how to behave, what to say and what to want.Maria had always been compared to her beautiful and smart sister Ashley. Ashley was the star and Maria the looser. Maria was taught to be the looser and believed it. It took her a long time to turn her self-defeating beliefs around. Henry’s father insisted that Henry was too fat and clumsy for sports. Henry would have loved to ski, but he didn’t dare. It wasn’t until later in life that he learned to ski. It became his favorite sport and he was very good at it.

Conditioned by our environment we became products of our culture. Social influences tell us we are not slim enough, not rich enough, not with it enough and probably out of it altogether. We never quite cut it. Compelled to portray a better us, we hide our true self. When we are not real we cannot connect to our inner core or to others. What we do, including our interactions with others, becomes meaningless, because our true self doesn’t show up. This is important and here is why:

Your authentic self is your talents, values, traits and greatness combined. It is the best of you! It is like a sleeping giant buried under all the shoulds and shouldn’ts. All you need is the courage to be you. Think about this: when we meet people who are refreshingly authentic, we are drawn to them. They say and do the things we never would. They have the courage to be real and we instantly like them. They give us the straight goods and we always know where we stand. They don’t care what others think or do. They do their own thing in alignment with their authentic self. The have the courage to be oranges. We want to be in their presence because the interaction has meaning.

Here are some tips on becoming authentic:
• Be courageous and bold
• Say what you mean and mean what you say
• Trust your instinct
• Focus on the best in you
• Speak up for yourself
• Stand up for what you believe in
• Always speak the truth
• Don’t be a pleaser
• Don’t worry about what others think
• Become who you want to be

If you are afraid of doing all of the above, feel the fear and do it anyway! To be authentic, just focus on your talents, strength, values and integrity. Building upon your best gives you authentic power. This power feeds your soul. As George Elliot said: “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” Nothing changes in your life until you use the best of you. Nothing changes in your relationships until you
become better for each other. When you focus on the best of you, you can also see the good in others. Only when you use your best can you play your best cards in life. Living an authentic life means never having to regret anything. This is powerful!

© 2007 Allie Ochs is a speaker, relationship coach and author of: Are You Fit To Love?  Her book has received the honorable mention at the USA 2004 Best Book Awards.  She has appeared on TV, Radio and is published in numerous magazines and newsletters.  To order her book or take the Fit 2 Love! Test visit her website For Free Relationship/Dating Advice e-mail: