In my fifteen years as a therapist in NYC and LA, the inability to communicate authentically and truthfully is one of the most common issues for clients. Speaking from a place of criticism, comparison, false appeasement, and fear leads to living inauthentically, which translates into low satisfaction and high frustration levels. More importantly, it is impossible to fulfill your Dharma (life’s purpose) if you can not access your authentic voice.

I recently created a group-coaching course “Live Your Truth Love Your Life” with Ashley Turner, a rockstar yoga psychologist and instructor in LA. As synchro-destiny (a direct result of living your truth) would have it, our paths crossed through our mutual passion for empowering clients to live authentically. Below are the six keys we have discovered will lead to Living Your Truth and Loving Your Life in the shortest amount of time.

Key 1: Know Your Truth

How can we hear the body’s wisdom if we’re always rushing, ruminating about the past, projecting into the future, and mismanaging time? Our authentic self exists in silence. In order to reveal that self, we need to find stillness and silence for a dedicated period of time on a daily basis. During this time, reflect on how you were taught “truth.” Were you encouraged to deny your personal truth? For example, did you want to be an artist, but were told to get a degree in business because the job market is better? Were you interested in learning a particular sport, but a parent pushed you to play a different one at which they excelled? Many might have been taught that speaking the truth was rude if it in some way offended another person, so you developed the “Disease to Please” in order to keep the peace and not hurt feelings. Journal about what your meditations reveal from childhood and connect the dots forward to issues you may have today.

Key 2: Speak Your Truth

Once you have systems in place to help you recognize your truth, the next step is to be able to effectively honor and communicate it. Ask yourself: How do I feel? What do I need? What do I want? Express the answers with no need to justify or defend. You have to start every interaction with the hope that your needs will be met. Sometimes, our needs cannot be met nor do we have the desire or capacity to meet someone else’s, so we must also learn how to gracefully, yet emphatically, say and receive “no.” In addition to verbal expression, expressing your authentic self through clothing, decorating your personal space, and creating something from nothing (art, writing, etc.) are all fun and liberating ways to mirror your authenticity back to you.

Key 3: Lose Your Mafia (FEAR) Mind

Think about how much of your day is run on autopilot. This is your subconscious mind which is helpful in allowing you to remember how to get to work and tie your shoes, but is detrimental in that it causes you to hang onto the same ol’ ways of thinking and the “this is the way it’s always been so this is the way it will continue to be” mindset. This is where the first key is also critical because all negative internal voices have an origin. Allow yourself to peel back the layers to expose when / where / by whom the fear originated and why you have turned it into gospel. If your autopilot fear mind runs your life’s show, it also extorts joy from it. Learning that most fear is a feeling not a fact frees you to change your response. Fear is part of the human condition and informative, but you do have control over how much it controls you. To be authentic, you must be willing to stretch out of your comfort zone. Have faith that you will survive, thrive, and learn what it is you are meant to know when you do what you are called to do. Fear can be your biggest teacher or the roadblock to where you want to go. You decide.

Key 4: You = The Only ONE

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”—Dwight Edwards

When you can’t embrace and celebrate your uniqueness, you conform and stuff yourself down, eventually leading to those qualities being lost. This “other side” of us becomes our shadow self—the part of ourselves that we deny, ignore, and believe to be unacceptable. The construction of the shadow self goes back to your upbringing and what qualities were held in esteem. Living in your truth means accepting and embracing all aspects of YOU. Since you are the only you, now and evermore, trying to live another’s life is simply impossible. Focus on the qualities that set you apart, honor your integrity in all you do, and accept your shadow self with kindness. No one else has your unique gifts and talents.

Key 5: Downloaded Blueprints

A belief is just a thought you’ve had many times. Any area of your life that is not working is most likely built on a faulty blueprint (aka belief) designed by others. Revealing your limiting, inherited beliefs is the beginning of redrawing your blueprint to actually fit the life you want to build. Recognize you have control to flip the old downloaded blueprint from the past into a new, fresh version that fits your truth. (Check out the Daily Living tab on my site for help with downloaded blueprints around love, money, and health.)

Key 6: Revealing and Building Core Self with Balance

When faced with a decision, ask yourself two questions to find your truth and live from your core self. What is my highest good in this moment? What is the next right action for me to take? When you achieve this clarity, you are in balance and can assess where you are out of balance. In those areas that are imbalanced, answering these questions will set you on track to making concrete changes to come back to center. Small changes will add up to big shifts, so ditch the all-or-nothing mentality and start today!

Although this is the Reader’s Digest version of our six keys, I hope it has provoked thought and will open a dialogue here.

To learn more, check out our website and upcoming free call.

Terri Cole, founder and CEO of Live Fearless and Free, is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. Recently, Terri released her first CD “Meditation Transformation”. She is now in the process of writing her first solo book “Flip Over and Float—Transform Fear into Freedom in 6 Simple Steps for Sustainable Change” and co-hosting Live Your Truth Love Your Life, an online group-coaching program, with yoga psychologist Ashley Turner. Terri is set to appear in Lifetime Network’s new show “The Conversation,” executive produced by Demi Moore, airing April 2012.  In addition to her website, Terri can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.