Watch any romantic comedy and you’ll see the main characters lost in each other, daydreaming about how wonderful s/he is, letting go of things and people that mattered to them, looking for ways to please or impress their new-found love. In other words, these people have abandoned their true self in exchange to live up to someone else’s expectation.
When you suppress your authentic self, focusing all your energy on others, whether it’s in your partner, your kids, friends or work, you create a void in your life, leading you to feeling lost, disconnected and incongruent with your values and beliefs.
Searching for your worth and value outside of yourself, results in you losing the essence of who you truly are. You assign your worth to what you do, who you are with, the praise you receive rather than appreciating and honoring yourself.
The biggest problem I see is that we may not even be aware that we’ve abandoned our true self. Let’s take a look at some revealing signs that you might unknowingly be practicing and see what you can do differently.
Rationalizing Your Decisions
“I don’t want to (do the chores, take the kids to their soccer practice, talk with my friend, fill in the blank) because it feels like I’m the only one who does it. I know I should and it would make (whoever) feel good, but I don’t want to.” Whenever you rationalize your decisions, you’re probably trying to convince yourself of all the reason why you should or shouldn’t be doing the task.
On the other hand, if your decision is based on your true feelings and desires with no guilt or rationalizing, then you’re being true to yourself.
Disregarding Your Instincts
You just agreed to carpool the kids to their game. Minutes later, you have that gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach that this wasn’t a good idea. You push that feeling away, disregarding your instincts. Rather than seeing this as a guilty feeling for trying to get out of doing something, view that twinge as a gift to help guide you and help you to stay true to who you are.
Discounting Negative Emotions
Emotions let us know when we’re living our true authentic selves. For example, many view anger as an emotion to avoid. Anger in itself isn’t good or bad. It’s what you do with anger that make it good or bad. Instead of discounting negative emotions such as anger, take the time to look at why you’re feeling this way. Listen to your negative emotions and explore what’s the true message underneath it.
Letting Yourself Go
There are several ways that you might be letting go of who you truly are: engaging in gossip, criticizing yourself, judging other or practicing behaviors that are not benefiting your true self. Individually, these behaviors may seem inconsequential but cumulatively, they can engulf your true essence, taking you down a path of feeling lost. If this is you, it’s never too late to take a different path, one that will fill you up with pride and honor.
Breaking Your Promises
Whenever you break a promise to yourself, you are diminishing your worth. We’ve all broken promises to ourselves at some point. It’s OK. The problem is when you are constantly dishonoring your word that creates distance between yourself and who you true are. Make promises sparingly and keep those you make. You’ll feel proud of yourself.
Drama takes you away from what’s important to you and your life, draining you of your energy. It’s another form of distraction from being your authentic self. Stop feeding the drama around you and you’ll be able to stay focus on what matters most.
Whenever you try to please everyone around you, to be the super hero for your family, friends and colleagues, this is the perfect formula for overwhelm. You start to feel intense emotions such as anxiety, anger or irritability. You might be more worrisome than your usual self. Maybe you cry or lash out for no apparent reason. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s time to reconnect with yourself.
Being true to your values and your beliefs is an ongoing process. It requires that you take time to be on your own, evaluating where you are now, what you are most proud of and change what doesn’t fit into your life. It also means to look at those in your life, see how you are mutually supporting and benefiting from being in each other’s lives and nurturing what is good about it. You’ll have a stronger sense of self, feel more confident and create more fulfilling relationships with others and yourself.