I was six-years-old when I stood up for myself for the first time.

My Dad grew up in Vermont playing baseball, basketball and hockey and wanted nothing more than to raise a star baseball player.

But I had other plans.

“I don’t want to play baseball, Dad! I want to play soccer.” I brought home a flyer that I picked up at school that day and was convinced I would like running around and kicking a ball more than simply trying to avoid getting hit by reckless Little League pitchers who just couldn’t throw. “Alright, son. If it’s what you really want and will make you happy, I support it.”

Turns out, I made the right choice. I’m still playing soccer 25 years later. And standing up for myself, too.

It’s been anything but easy.

Have you ever given so much of yourself to something or someone that you end up losing yourself in the process?

I certainly have.

I’ve compromised my values and succumbed to peer pressure in order to be well liked. I’ve sacrificed my personal boundaries and remained in unhealthy romantic relationships because I didn’t want to be alone. I’ve pursued career opportunities solely because of brand recognition and not because of personal fulfillment or alignment.

But regardless of how many times I’ve lost my way over the years, I’ve always found my way back by asserting myself and realigning energetically. My intuition starts whispering to me when things start to feel out of balance or just not quite right. And I’ve learned to listen and take action.

Below, I share nine things my intuition whispers to me. I hope they help you live in your light. I hope they help you put yourself first. I hope they help you stand up for yourself again and again. Because one thing I know for sure is this: You are responsible for your own energy. So, reclaim your power with these poignant prompts. Your happiness could depend on ‘em.

1. Lead by example.

One the easiest ways to know if you’re being true to yourself is to recognize if you’re following someone else’s lead or leading from your own vision, priorities and goals. Because when you’re constantly chasing the coattails of someone who may or may not have your best interests at heart, you’ll likely sabotage those very same interests of yours—and sacrifice yourself in the process.

Forge your own path instead. Stay aligned with your intuition and inner needs and you’ll never be led down a path to nowhere because you’ll be completely in tune with yourself and the Universe. You’ll have become your very own leader.

If my six-year-old self can do it, so can you!

2. Stick to your values.

What are your guiding principles? Do you pride yourself on being honest, open and communicative? Are you consistent, dependable and loyal? What about creative and bold?

Clearly outline these personal attributes so you can better understand yourself and whether or not a given situation honors these values. Here’s an example: I like to think that I am honest and transparent in almost everything I do. Let’s say that a close friend of mine has asked me to withhold information from another friend because he doesn’t want the other friend invited to a particular event. What should I do?

Well, if I think about my values of honesty and transparency, my close friend’s request is clearly not in line with those values, and so I should not intentionally withhold the information. All that being said, I also wouldn’t go out of my way to tell the other friend about the event because I don’t want to stir the pot. But, if the other friend asks outright, I will be honest and forthcoming about the details of the event.

The key here is to use your values as guideposts along your journey. Whenever a person or situation asks you to violate your values, stand up for yourself and say no. That’s how you maintain your integrity and live in your light. That’s how you stay true to you.

3. Be clear about your intentions and motives.

Why are you doing this? Seriously, what’s your motivation for doing or not doing whatever it is you’re considering? This simple question is a powerful and profound way to get to the root of your intentions and determine if you’re doing something for the right reason—whether you’re doing something for you—or not. It’s also an incredibly important reminder that if you don’t have the best of intentions in doing something, you shouldn’t do it at all, even if it’s funny or feels good in the moment.

4. Set and protect firm personal boundaries.

Boundaries are so important. But they can be massively misunderstood. Whereas walls are energy blocks that keep your love locked away inside, never to see the light of day, boundaries are clear lines in the sand that help focus that same energy of love and positivity on people and situations that honor your spirit and support your happiness. Boundaries are typically put in place around your values so you don’t act in ways that aren’t congruent with those values—or allow other people to violate them as well.

Take the same values of honesty and transparency I pointed out previously as an example. Let’s say I’ve gone on 10 dates with a guy and all of a sudden he ghosts me and I stop hearing from him. Given that this guy’s behavior seems to be the opposite of honest and transparent, I wouldn’t continue to text and call him or go on more dates unless he then came clean, got vulnerable and expressed in an honest and open way what was going on to make him act in that manner. When a personal boundary is crossed it’s important to reallocate the energy you were putting into that person or situation to something or someone else that will hopefully reciprocate that energy and honor your values.

Because that’s what you deserve.

5. Do things that help you become a better version of you.

If it’s helping you grow and share your gifts with the world and be a force of light and love, then keep doing it. If it doesn’t, then don’t. Simple as that.

6. Keep your eyes on the long term.

What do your emotions and thoughts have in common? They’re shortsighted! That’s why rising above and trusting things like your intuition, your values and your boundaries is so important: It keeps you focused on a bigger purpose for your life. It respects your very essence and opens you up to things that align with that essence and that purpose.

This long-term vision and outlook allows you to get a sense of whether or not you’re on the right track. Because if you’re only focused on short-term things like immediate gratification, you’re certain to fall off the wagon and act in ways that don’t honor your presence in this world. But if you take a step back and see things through a different lens, you’ll act from a different part of you—from a higher self and a higher frequency of energy. You’ll act from a place of love.

7. Focus on the route of the highest possible good.

You are a force of love and empowering energy in this world. It’s time to start holding yourself to that standard. It’s time to progress to a point where you look beyond your immediate needs and wants to further purvey that positive force. It’s time to focus on the route of the highest possible good.

Oftentimes, when we’re engaged in an exchange of energy with another person, we’re solely paying attention to what we can get as opposed to what we have to give. When we focus on giving from our true gifts—from our higher self—we not only raise our energy, we raise the energy of the entire exchange. That’s what it means to choose the route of the highest possible good.

So, instead of simply treating life like a transaction, see what it’s like to give from a core gift like compassion or honesty or vulnerability. You might be surprised by just how well it’s received by others—and at how much power your presence really has.

Because being that force of light in the world is a fulfilling feeling all on its own—even if others may not recognize its value in the moment. And sharing that with the world helps you stay true to you.

8. Act on faith, not fear.

Fear manifests in many forms, but it’s always a force of lower-frequency energy that keeps you out of alignment with love. Faith, on the other hand, is an unshakeable trust in your essence of love and your worthiness. Faith helps to build a bridge from fear to freedom. When you’re acting on fear, you devalue your essence and diminish your energy, which causes you to feel off balance and out of alignment with who you really are. You feel like you’re hanging off the side of that very same bridge as opposed to walking gracefully toward what is meant for you.

But when you act on faith—when you make the conscious choice to push through regardless of not knowing what awaits you on the other side—you push into an energy field of possibility and potential that attracts positivity and love into your life.

So, when you feel off and just can’t explain why, you’re probably indulging your fear and need to release the lower frequencies that you are allowing to block energy from moving within and through you. Embrace faith and love instead and you’ll never wander too far from the path that’s meant for you.

9. Focus on what helps you elevate your energy.

Every life force in the Universe is a physical manifestation of dynamic energy. You are no exception. But you won’t always be met by other people or situations that match your frequency of energy. And that’s okay! The key is to remain energetically unlocked and open—to not close off your heart and trap your love inside—regardless of what you may encounter in your day-to-day life.

This openness is what will attract like-minded folks with similar energy frequencies into your life. And help you elevate yourself and stay true to you in the process.

What are some ways that you stay true to you? What are some things your intuition whispers to you? Tell me in the comments below—or Tweet me at @crackliffe.

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  • Chris Rackliffe

    Author and Storyteller

    Chris Rackliffe, or @crackliffe, as he is fondly known by friends and colleagues, is an award-winning storyteller, motivator and marketer who has driven over one billion clicks and over six billion interactions as head of social media for some of the biggest magazines in the world, including Entertainment Weekly, Men’s Health, PEOPLE and more. With a B.S. in Advertising and Psychology from the University of Miami—and a Ph.D. in the School of Life—Chris tells first-person stories that cut straight to the heart. Chris has made it his sole purpose to empower and uplift others and help them find peace, perspective and power through what they’ve endured. You can read his work as published or featured in BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, TIME, Women’s Health and many more.