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Are you living a life that is true to who you really are? It can very difficult to lead a truly authentic life in today’s world. There are many factors at play that push you in the direction of “fitting in” to prescribed notions of who you are supposed to be, and often there is negative enforcement for people who try to be their most authentic selves without compromise. So, how do you learn to be yourself?
True satisfaction with life can only be found when you are living your life as your authentic self, despite all the pressure society gives to conform. Let’s look at the reasons we often try to become someone other than who we are, and ways we can return to our best true selves.
Shoes Belong in Boxes, People Do Not
There are many reasons someone might try to emulate or imitate someone else. Life is a learning process, and sometimes we may want to “try on” different personalities to see how they work for us. This is not always negative – if it is done in a spirit of learning and growth, it can be very beneficial. After all, we all have many different aspects of our selves, and it’s vital to embrace ourselves as whole beings.
If we try to imitate others due to insecurity and a lack of confidence in our own identities, we will have the opposite effect of moving us farther from our true nature.
It’s when we try on roles that don’t fit, but we try to pass them off as our true selves, that we run into identification issues.
Influences That Push You Away From Your True Self
Particularly in this age of social media, where we see so many little snippets of other people’s “perfect” lives, it’s easy to begin to feel like you as a basic, average person, are falling behind.
But that’s an illusion. Unless you truly live in someone else’s shoes, you cannot know what their life is really like. And we ALL have good days, bad days, worse days, in-between days…it’s just that you only get to see a limited amount on any social media channel, and of course, everyone wants to show only their best highlights.
Parent expectations, and widening that, familial expectations, can play a huge role in making you feel like you must become someone you are not. Think of the expectations that you will go to a particular college because many other family members went there. Maybe you aren’t interested in attending college at all, but feel the pressure to conform to family expectations. If you give in, you are not being your authentic self.
You are also swayed by friendships. Have you ever reunited with an old friend you haven’t seen in a while, and even though you feel you’ve grown as a person since the last time you saw them, you find yourself automatically slipping back into old patterns of behavior? You may not even be doing it consciously, but seeing that old friend can trigger positive memories, which bring out the behavior.
Other People You Know
You may be seeking approval, and altering your behavior to gain that approval from your boss, coworkers, school peers, or social circle. It’s been proven in study after study that we are essentially “the sum of the five people we spend the most time with.”
All media can impact you, including movies, television, and books. Suppose you find yourself drawn into a truly fantastic romance movie – exactly the type of romance you envision for yourself. Could that suggest you alter who you are to behave more like the protagonist in the movie?
How Do You Learn to Be Yourself?
First, a bit of reflection. Who are you? Who have you been in the past? Are you an accurate reflection of who you want to be? Do others perceive you as you do? Take time to really contemplate who you ARE as an individual. Accept your emotions, your faults, your incompetencies, as much as your strengths, virtues, and values.
Identify your negative self-talk. Learn to rephrase the negativity into positive, or at least, passive, language. Instead of things that are “wrong” with you, think of these things as “quirks”. Does that make them seem someone less negative for you?
Celebrate your strengths. No matter what they may be – own them and see that they are powerful. And they are all yours. Instead of beating yourself down, recognize that there is so much positive within you. Be kind to yourself, and give you the credit you deserve.
Accept change. It’s inevitable, and that’s actually a good thing. You will change. You have the power to create your own changes. Others will change, too. You don’t control their changes, wh
Don’t compare yourself to others. It is so easy to see the best in others and the worst in yourself, and for this very reason you will never measure up if you live your life in a constant state of comparison.
Don’t be a people-pleaser. Don’t worry about what other people think about you.
Be honest with yourself, be honest with others. Let them know who you are, stand up for what you believe in.
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Final Thoughts on How to Be Yourself
You are special.
You are the only You there is, and You are spectacular.
Learning to toss aside who you think you are supposed to be – or who others expect or even demand you to be – is a challenge we all need to surmount in order to live life as we truly are.