Authentic self and self-care for being your true self

The word "Just Be"

As a mediation and negotiation specialist that focuses on conflict resolution and collaboration it is important for me to be authentic and care for myself given often stressful situations.  Recently I heard a speaker offer a quote from Parker Palmer. I appreciated the quote, so I researched additional quotes from Parker Palmer. This got me to thinking. I wanted to share two of his quotes with you and provide you with some thoughts you may find helpful for yourself, and you may want to share these with others to promote your and their mental and physical health.


Your authentic self-quote offered by Parker Palmer


“Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks--we will also find our path of authentic service in the world.”


Think about this quote. What is your authentic self?   That is who are you really when you dig deep down? It is not about what others think about you. You are your authentic self when your actions match what you know are your behaviors and words.  This is your core identity.

Many think they need to continually search to find their authentic self. Psychology Today suggests this is “unattainable and creates further frustration in the form of your self-critical voice”.  Your authentic self is who you are today. It is shaped by your experiences, interactions, and who you are.  This includes the good and bad. By finding the right balance today between work, school, family, worship, activities, down time, volunteering, and any other priorities you may have, you have found your inner self. Celebrate your inner self. Go to bed each evening knowing you did the best you could today and wake up tomorrow grateful for another day to make a positive difference.


Self-care is never a selfish act

Here is a  second quote by Parker Palmer for consideration.

“Self-care is never a selfish act - it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”
― Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

What you do to care for yourself matters. That is, you only have one life. How you treat yourself and others matters.  Self-care “means taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy, you can do well, you can do your job, you can help and care for others, and you can do all the things you need to and want to accomplish in a day”.  The number of searches on self-care have quadrupled since 2018 as we battle anxiety and depression according to Google.


What are things you can do for yourself for self-care?


Getting vaccines, scheduled screenings, taking prescription medications timely

Doing things that feel nourishing

Checking in with yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally

Here are three broad categories of self-care for your consideration:

  • Emotional self-care, such as self-talk, weekly bubble baths, saying “no” to things that cause unnecessary stress, giving yourself permission to take a pause, or setting up a weekly coffee date with a friend. [If your asked to do something and you simply don’t have the time, let the other party know you appreciate the invitation, but this is not something that works for you at this time.]
  • Physical self-care, such as prioritizing sleep, adopting an exercise routine you can stick with, or choosing healthy and nourishing foods over highly processed ones. [With something new, start with small changes and see how that goes]
  • Spiritual self-care, such as attending a religious service, spending time in nature, meditating, incorporating regular acts of kindness into your day, or keeping a gratitude journal.  [Smile and do something nice for someone without looking for something in return daily]

Note that self-care does not cost any money. Rather self-care incorporates things you enjoy. Pausing and taking a deep breath and reflecting on what you are grateful for is an example of something that costs nothing and may help you refocus.


Three things that reduce the stress response


Considering what you can control (yourself, your attitude, what actions you take) and accepting the things you cannot change gives you a sense of control. This helps reduce your stress level.

Give yourself the gift of predictability. That is building in routines.  For example, what you do when you wake up in the morning (making your bed, brushing your teeth, combing your hair), rituals during the day, rituals for evening, and quiet, reflective, prayerful time before bed. 

Celebrate success and affirm yourself. Take big projects and break them up into a series of milestones. Celebrate small wins along the way when you complete milestones with yourself and if with others, then celebrate with others.  This will give you a sense of accomplishment.


Positive self-talk and self-distancing


Coach yourself positively with self-talk as when you encourage yourself.  “Yes, I can do this.” “Keep going”.

Then take the next step by using your name. This is called self-distancing.  For example, if your name is Mike actually say to yourself “Yes, Mike you can do this”.  “Keep going, Mike”.  “Mike, you can make it through to the end”.  When you self-distance and look at yourself in the second person psychologists have found and coach professional athletes with this technique to improve performance. You can do this too.




Small actions benefit your health and your wellbeing.

The following self-care practices have been well-researched and linked to a longer life:

  • Exercise People who exercised between two and eight hours per week throughout their lives reduced their risk of an early death by 29 to 36 percent.
  • Finding Purpose According to the researchers behind a 2019 studyhaving a strong life purpose was associated with decreased mortality rates.
  • Diet Eating a diet filled with more servings of fruits and vegetables per day was associated with a lower risk of mortality, especially from heart-related issues.
  • Sleep A study published in 2017 found too little sleep (less than seven hours per night) was linked with higher mortality rates, though too much sleep wasn’t healthy either.
  • Getting Outside According to a 2019 study, spending time in green space is associated with a lower mortality rate.


Additional thoughts


Here are 20 tips for building and cultivating your resilience. Start small and go slow.  Pick out one thing you may want to try and try a small dose of what brings you joy, balance, and replenishes your energy. Try it for a period of time. How does that feel? Add more if appropriate but be sure to go slow. Reach out to others for support who love and care about you.

As additional thoughts considering journaling, setting aside time each day for mindfulness, eat breakfast, consider what you are grateful for at the beginning or the end of your day, set your phone aside, have a consistent bed time, be safe, be well, have fun.

Finally, check out The Servant Manager, 203 Tips from the Best Places to Work in America. It offers you all kinds of insights to help you.

If these types of ideas do not work for you consider seeking professional help.  

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]