Picture of Rhonda Reist smiling

Many of us get caught up in comparing ourselves to celebrities, people we follow on social media and our friends, coworkers and business associates. However, I think it’s time for everyone to start loving who they are. As Oscar Wilde famously said, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”

It’s been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If you think about it though, the moment you try to imitate someone, you’re stuck. Imitation is the opposite of being your authentic self. You were born to fill a niche no one else can fill. Being you is your competitive advantage in business and in all your relationships. No one else can be you. Yet sadly, many of us stifle our true selves in order to meet the world’s expectations and maintain the status quo.

Too many of us fail to radiate our inner light. We’re either too afraid to be our true selves or we’ve lost our essence so that we no longer know who we are. We get caught up trying to impress and project a public persona that is at odds with our original selves.

Interestingly enough, however, we’re born knowing how to live. If you watch really young children, you’ll see them shine as they exude confidence, revel in their own uniqueness and unashamedly express their needs, wants and opinions. As we grow up, we’re taught to hide our authentic selves so we don’t draw unnecessary attention or criticism. We learn to fear what others think of us.

While it’s true that being your authentic self could offend others, living to please people will also offend them. As award-winning writer and life coach Iyanla Vanzant says, “Until you are willing to live beyond the opinions of other people, and without the company of other people, you will have no idea of what your life is all about.”

Many of us are people-pleasers; whether we realize it or not, we want people to like us. In fact, we may become easily offended or upset if we think someone doesn’t like us. This triggers feelings of rejection, abandonment or inferiority, which all unknowingly stop us from radiating our true selves.

Living an authentic life means sojourning down the road less travelled. Though it may be very dark, hilly, tumultuous and at times lonely, the key to our personal power lies in continuing down this road despite what others may say or do to us. So, keep going. You’ll never please everyone, so stop trying. There will always be someone who will be disappointed with you – but that’s okay.

Love yourself enough to let your voice rise above other people’s expectations. Don’t let your internal critic or others’ judgements hide who you are. Celebrate your unique magnificence. You’re not in competition with the people you follow on Instagram, your co-workers or family members. I love what George Stroumboulopoulos said when he spoke at our Townhall during the 2019 Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) Convention. He stated that he refused to not be his own biggest supporter. We should all have an attitude like that.

I’m not saying we should all strut around like we’re perfect, because no one is. Instead, accept that you’ll always have things to improve on. But, as James Poland says, “Like the sky opens after a rainy day we must open to ourselves … Learn to love yourself for who you are and open so the world can see you shine.”

Don’t Stop Believin’ Keep Dreamin’!

One of my favourite songs has always been Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin”. Each of us has days when we feel weighed down or fearful of what lies ahead. Belief that we can live our dreams and that miracles are possible is essential if we are to manifest our destinies and become all we were created to be. For many of us, our self-talk is full of excuses as to why we’ll never have what we desire: “I’m too old. My time has passed”, “I don’t have the right education”, “I’m not that talented or smart” or “Something that good would never happen to me.” Do you ever find yourself thinking something like that? Not only do we think and even voice these negative thoughts, many times we do so unconsciously.

The famous mathematician and physicist Isaac Newton said, “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” We attract what we dwell on – therefore, we need to be very careful about what we think. If we think and dwell on negative thoughts, we’ll experience a life filled with negativity. However, if we think and focus on positive thoughts, we can experience a life filled with positivity. Whatever we put out boomerangs back to us in some way. So, if you think it’s possible to have a job you love, vibrant health and harmonious relationships, then it will be – the trick is to hold on to your positive beliefs because they are what will attract positive circumstances.

I know this isn’t an easy task to accomplish. Many days I have to work really hard at defeating my negative self-talk. The “I’m not good enough” or “it’ll never happen to me” thoughts find me especially when I’m tired. As a teenager, I struggled a lot with self-hatred which led to an eating disorder. While I no longer have problems eating, some days I still struggle with unconditionally accepting myself and viewing my life in a positive way. During these moments, it’s easy to doubt myself and my potential.

What I’ve learned is that sometimes believing requires effort – and some days, a lot of effort. It requires looking beyond what we see with our physical eyes and knowing the life we want (or something even better) is possible. One of the things I find helpful is knowing that according to quantum physics, limitless possibilities exist in each moment. How incredible and exciting is that? For more on this, I urge you to read Dr. Joe Dispenza’s book, You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter.

Determined, focused belief that perseveres despite appearances is one of the most important ingredients in realizing our dreams and reaching our highest potential. Belief is tantamount to consuming vitamins and minerals. It boosts our spirits, which in turn strengthens our bodies.

Positive Affirmations

Another tool I find helpful is the use of positive affirmations. An affirmation is anything we think or say. Much of what we think or say to ourselves is negative. Our minds are like computers that have been infected with a virus. So regularly, we need to delete some of the negative files that talk us out of our potential. Here is just a sampling of new thoughts that we can dwell on and speak out throughout the day to reprogram our thinking:

– I release any fear of failure and insecurity. I am confident and successful.
– I’m transforming into the person I want to be.
– I can do it! I’ll take it one day at a time.
– I possess unlimited potential.
– I have no competition. I bring something unique to the table by simply being me.
– Opportunities are everywhere!
– My life gets more fabulous every day. I look forward to what each new hour brings.
– It does not matter what other people say or do. What matters is how I choose to react.
– I embrace the greatness within me!
– Today no person or circumstance can stop me from loving my life and pursing my dreams.
– I am not limited by old ways of looking at my life. The past is over and has no power over me.


So, as my friends in Journey say, “Don’t stop believin’, hold on to that feeling.” Value yourself enough to stop rushing around all the time. As I wrote in my Go Magazine article on self-care, it’s essential to schedule time for yourself every day. Just as you take time to eat and sleep, take time to feed your soul. Make it a priority this year to turn off the TV, put down your phone and take a few minutes each day to feed your dreams with something that will keep those “belief” feelings alive. Trust me, you’ll be amazed at the momentum and the new zest for life small actions can generate!

Rhonda Reist is a Business Development Specialist at Gore Mutual. You can find her on LinkedIn here.

  • Reply Colleen

    January 28, 2020, 10:52 am

    Excellent article, Rhonda! You are an absolute gem. Along with all of the folks you mentioned, I think Mr. Fred Rogers should be named amongst them, for two reasons. First, he was a pretty unique individual, and unabashedly so, and two, his affirmation of “I like you JUST the way you ARE” is simple & very reassuring, especially when things are difficult, whether you’re two years old, or (feel like) two hundred. Who we are is fluid, we can be anything we want to be, but on the journey (ha! see what I did there?) reassurance that we’re accepted as we are is a powerful thing.

  • Reply Jenny Desroches

    January 29, 2020, 5:19 pm

    Always a ray of positivity Rhonda, if were going to compare songs I’d have to pick “You are my sunshine” for you!
    Being authentic is definitely a great reminder and as women we always have to push ourselves and celebrate ourselves and never stop shining!!!

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