I often hear comments and complaints from clients regarding their hesitations and apprehensions to be themselves, do or say what they want or are feeling, and struggle with being themselves in every area and relationship in their lives. They feel like they have to say what the other person wants to hear, act a certain way, do what others want or are interested in, put on an act in certain situations, or even have different personalities or “masks” based on where they are or who they are interacting with. If they don’t, they fear that people will not like or accept them. But then are people really accepting you if it is just a front or an inaccurate representation of who you are? It is a common and normal desire to want people to like us and to feel accepted by others, but trying to be someone else all the time is exhausting and inauthentic, and will not truly bring acceptance or being liked.
Authenticity is a personality trait we should all strive to achieve and honor at all times and receive in return as well. Consider a non-personal example: when making a significant purchase, say some type of name brand item, most people will consider the options, costs, and places to buy from, find out the facts about the item, and want to know the truth and authenticity about what they are buying. If you were to buy the item and only after the purchase was compete find out that it was inauthentic or information was incorrect, chances are you would be very disappointed, angry, and want to get your money back. Same thing goes with people in our lives and for ourselves. Most people want to form relationships with other people who have similar interests, beliefs, hobbies, etc. and who are open and honest. It would be devastating to spend a lot of time with someone, feel you are getting to know and understand them, maybe even possibly start a serious relationship or get married, only to find out that what or who you thought you knew was completely untrue and disingenuous.
The same holds true for ourselves. If what we are seeking are genuine connections and relationships with people, how can we achieve that if we are not being true to ourselves? Hiding our personalities, beliefs, likes and dislikes, interests, opinions, etc. will not attract what we desire, but rather the complete opposite. In order to attract what and who we want in our lives we have to be authentic. But how?
First, and most importantly, we need to accept and be proud of who we are; strengths, weaknesses, positives, imperfections, quirks, opinions, interests, hobbies, everything. Those all form a unique combination and make us who we are. People who truly should be in your life, who you can have a positive relationship with, and who will like and accept who you truly are will be the ones who stick around or come into your life and stay.
Second, be cognizant and mindful of when you are being inauthentic to yourself. It can be scary or anxiety producing to be ourselves, but it is much easier and freeing to do so. Notice when you feel like you are holding back, not being yourself, or trying to be someone else and what is triggering it. Noticing these situations will help you to find the “why” for your actions or behaviors and figure out ways to feel comfortable being true to yourself. Just keep asking yourself, “am I being authentic?”
Finally, just be YOU! There is no one else quite like you in the world and that is an amazing fact of life. As Carl Jung said, “the privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” Embrace it and show it!
Please contact Symmetry Counseling today to schedule an appointment with a therapist if you are interested in learning how to be more authentic and true to yourself.