Why Is It So Hard to Be Yourself?
Updated: May 5, 2022
What is Authenticity?
Being authentic means that you act in ways that show your true self and how you feel. Rather than showing people only a particular side of yourself, you express your whole self genuinely. That means to succeed in being authentic, you first have to know who your true self actually is. And this requires self-awareness, mindfulness, and self-acceptance.
Why Authenticity Matters
We are constantly bombarded with media that tells us who to be, what to want, and how we "should" express ourselves. All of these influences slowly chip away at our ability to be our authentic selves.
But by being someone you are not, you are telling yourself that who you really are isn’t okay. So hiding or suppressing who you really are can end up leaving you feeling lonely, disconnected from others, or even worthless.
How We Lost Our Authenticity
We are constantly balancing inner and outer aspects of ourselves in order to better fit in, to become more successful, or to find love. We are driven to find “our place” in society, and we want to be respected for who we truly are and what we have to contribute. Many of us are propelled even further, desiring to know and live our purpose, to find deeper meaning in our lives, and to feel the fulfillment that comes with becoming a more authentic person.
But at the same time, we live in a society that values superficiality, that strives for perfection, and defines success by the dollars in our bank account and not by how well we live our values every day. So how are we to be authentic in spite of the messages that try to convince us to be someone else?
Why Overcoming Inauthenticity Is So Hard
We were molded as children by our parents, teachers, religions, peers, and society to "fit in." As a result, we developed beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that keep us acting in the ways we were taught to act—not in the ways that make us feel like our authentic selves.
This version of ourselves can be thought of as the "Adaptive Self"—the self that prioritizes fitting in, getting along, and generally doing what we're told. This self is not without value and purpose—it helps us be functioning members of society. But if you're feeling inauthentic, the Adaptive Self is running your life.
To reclaim your authenticity, you need to discover your “Authentic Self”—the self that prioritizes living according to your values, pursuing your purpose, and fighting for the causes you care about.
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