How to Be Yourself, Your True Self

be yourself

Why do so many people feel confused about who they really are and how did the issue of personal identity become so challenging? While it may seem like you should automatically know how to be yourself, in reality that is rarely the case.

When you think about it, so many things in life depend on our ability to connect with our true self. After all, how are we supposed to know what we should be doing or who we should be doing it with if we don’t even know who we really are?

What does it mean to be your true self?

From the time we are very young we begin to experiment with a variety of different identities. Because we are impressionable, it is only natural that we try on new versions of ourself at fairly regular intervals. The less inhibited we are, the more readily we will try to imitate whatever appeals to us at the moment.

During these formative years we have no idea who we actually are or who we will become, so we take our cues from those around us. Of course, at that early age we have no idea that most of those people are struggling with their own identity issues. Because we are young and inexperienced, we just naturally assume that by the time we get a little older we will figure out how to be ourselves.

The leverage of expectations

The expectations of those around us also exert a strong influence on our identity. Many of the choices we think we have made in life were probably programmed into us by the expectations of those whose approval we craved. It is amazing the degree to which people will adapt to gain the approval of others.

Then there are the expectations that we put on ourselves because we think we have to. This could include anything from our grade point average in school, to the job we would walk away from if it weren’t for our financial obligations.

After awhile the line gets blurred

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that imitating others or living up to expectations is inherently bad. All I am saying is that these influences can make it difficult to be yourself because they tend to confuse the issue.

Over time, it can become increasingly more challenging to identify our true self apart from those external influences. The line gets blurred to the point where we might have a full and busy life and still find ourselves saying: “I don’t really know who I am.” Have you ever felt that way?

To be yourself you need to find your true self

The phrase “find myself” gets over 5 million searches per month in google. That shows how common it is for people to feel disconnected from their true self and how interested they are in reestablishing that long lost connection. How about you, are you interested in learning how to be yourself in a more complete and meaningful way?

Even for those who feel somewhat in touch with their true nature, the constant barrage of carefully crafted advertisements coupled with the pressure of external expectations can make it extremely difficult to maintain that core connection. So, figuring out how to be yourself is a necessary first step, but to continue to be yourself day in and day out, you need a way to stay grounded and connected.

6 ways to be yourself regardless of external influences

I have identified six vital elements necessary for establishing and maintaining your connection with your true and authentic self.

1. Internal alignment. The absence of internal conflict is the only way to be at peace with our true self.  Any misalignment between our life and our core standards will prevent us from being totally honest with ourselves.  Self honesty is a prerequisite to internal harmony. To be yourself means that you need to identify your core standards and align with them.

2. Know your personal values. We all have a built in set of personal values. If we lose touch with those values we lose touch with our true self. When we violate those values we violate our relationship with the person that we really are. To truly be yourself, it is vital that you identify those values and make every effort to live by them.

3. Pick your pain and pleasure paradigms. As humans we are programmed to move away from pain and toward pleasure. To feel good about our pursuits and goals they need to represent some form of pleasure. To avoid the things that are out of alignment with our core standards and personal values, they need to represent pain on some level. If you properly assign these pain and pleasure paradigms they will fully support your natural tendency to be yourself.

4. Choose your passions carefully. You might think that you have very little control over your passions, but nothing could be further from the truth. To make sure that our passions align with our true self they need to be in harmony with our values and standards. Passions are easily influenced by what we think about and what we take in through our five senses. These are all within your control.

5. Adjust your response patterns. How we respond to the many situations and circumstances in our lives will determine how the world around us responds to us. Most people just react to external stimuli. How much more appropriate it is to respond in a way that supports our values and reinforces our sense of self honesty. If someone pushes your buttons and you just react, then they were the ones controlling you. To be yourself you need to consciously choose your response.

6. Cultivate positive beliefs about yourself. Being yourself is very difficult if you believe that you are worthless or undeserving, which of course isn’t true. Make it a habit to cultivate positive feelings about yourself as a person. Commend yourself for all the wonderful ways you contribute to the world around you.  If you give yourself the approval you deserve then your identity won’t depend on approval from outside sources.

Be the person you were meant to be

We are all unique and we all make a valuable contribution. Once you accept that it becomes much easier to connect with your true self and to feel comfortable being you. There will always be external influences trying to blur the line between who you are and who they want you to be. But if you follow these six suggestions, you will always know who you are.

Have you ever felt like you don’t really know who you are?
Has your personal identity been obscured by outside influences?
The lines are open!

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If you’re ready to discover your core values and passions, and make a deeper connection with your true self, then you’re ready to Find Your TRUE SELF.


  1. Frank Jovine December 9, 2011 Reply

    You need to find your inner-self in order to be who you are. Too many people try to be someone they’re not.

    • Jonathan December 9, 2011 Reply

      So right Frank, life is an inside job!

  2. Cathy December 9, 2011 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,

    Wonderful post with good ideas. I often think back to the days when I was 3-5 years old, and remember how free I was to be who I wanted and explore life. When school and expectations begins, the scenario usually changes for so many. With the bests of intentions, parents tend to push kids in a certain direction, as does society. Many kids carry around a lot of pain when they don’t feel that they measure up, which can lead to bad habits as teens as well as adults. Finding yourself is one of the most important things that a person can do.

    • Jonathan December 9, 2011 Reply

      Hi Cathy, I often wonder what things would be like if from a young age our sense of freedom and creativity were encourage and cultivated. If uniqueness were prized over conformity and imagination over the status quo.

  3. Galen Pearl December 10, 2011 Reply

    When I was young, I definitely did not know who I was. I remember trying to be different people, trying on personalities and behaviors like you would try on clothes at the store. Then I went through a time of sticking with a particular identity like a life preserver. I am a back to the land hippie. I am a pianist. I am a …whatever. It took me a long time to find my true self. Now I can’t imagine how I lived without me for so long!

    • Jonathan December 11, 2011 Reply

      Well said Galen, isn’t it a great feeling to welcome yourself home like that. :)

  4. Lenia December 12, 2011 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,

    Our social environment often plays a very important role in who we really are. Sometimes our society pushes us to follow values that are not aligned with our internal personal values and passions. In that case, we are afraid of being ourselves because we are afraid of what other people is thinking of us. I used to react like that but not anymore.
    “Be the real you and don’t worry about those who judge you because most of the time they don’t really matter”- Unknown is my answer now.
    Thank you for sharing this interesting post with us.

    • Jonathan December 13, 2011 Reply

      Hi Lenia, there will always be outside influences trying to mold our thinking and change our perception of our own identity. For this reason the self discovery process can be somewhat confusing. Notice that my six suggestions all involved making certain choices. That’s because who we are is something that we get to decide, but only if we are willing to assume full control and accept full responsibility.

  5. Anne December 13, 2011 Reply

    I agree, however, there is one thing I would like to point out about the blurred line. I think that sometimes it’s beneficial to copy other people, especially if their lives are at the point where we want to be. I’ve learned a lot of favourable things by copying other people. My childhood was horrible and the only way I could grow up to like myself was to seek out good people and try to be like them. After a while, the copying rubbed off on me.

    I’m really glad I found this blog. I’ve got a new confidence-building blog and have added your link to my blogroll so my visitors can pop by.

    • Jonathan December 13, 2011 Reply

      Hi Anne, the process of coping others in the way that you mentioned is called modeling and it is a very effective technique. When we want to produce a certain result we can find someone who is already good at producing that result and model them. This would include imitating the thinking and behavior they use to get results. But the choice of who we will model and what results we produce must support our concept of self. We don’t become the other person, we learn things from them that help us to be the best possible version of our self.

      Thanks for introducing the concept of modeling to this conversation Anne and for the link love.

  6. Ken Wert December 14, 2011 Reply

    Imagine living with someone, sleeping in the same bed, sitting at the table with them, in the cubicle with them, showering with them, brushing your teeth right beside them, eating what they eat when they eat it, sharing the exact same friends and in every way living right along side them and never even finding out who they are, what makes them tick, what drives them, what they fear, what adds passion and joy and meaning to their lives.

    I suppose, in some ways, that’s the case when we never truly figure out who we are. We will never spend as much time with anyone else! We might as well figure out who that person is in the mirror!

    Thanks for the insight, my friend. Excellent post!

    • Jonathan December 14, 2011 Reply

      Hey Ken, what a great analogy. If that doesn’t bring the point home I don’t know what will. Excellent comment my friend. I am tempted to insert it right into the article (with credit of course). :)

  7. timethief January 15, 2012 Reply

    I really appreciated the content in this article. The insight and wisdom are profound reminders of a time in my life before I went deep withing and introduced myself to all the parts of me I had spent a life time hiding from. That’s when I began to comprehend who I really was and take responsibility for my own state of mind and direction in life. I re-examined the core values inculcated in childhood and youth. I replaced the ones that needed replacement. I deliberately sought out new positively focused friends and bonded to them. From them I learned a great deal that helped me become me. Then I was able to chart a course and encourage myself to celebrate every small success while moving forward towards becoming who I really am and who we all are ie. LOVE. I don’t claim I have arrived. My only claim is that have awakened and I’m on the pathway.

    My very best wishes to you Jonathan. May we all experience a more empowered 2012.

    P.S. I apologize for the long silence. My mother died just before Christmas and the times leading up to that departure were tumultuous.

  8. Hrisi March 24, 2012 Reply

    Hi Jonathan !

    I’ve just come across your blog and I’m so happy ’cause I found so many helpful things.
    The last few months I’m all into searching and finding myself. I’ve gone through some things..some not so good things… I have some health problems and while I was laying on the operating table a few months ago and looking at the lights on the ceiling I just knew that this was not the end. But that voice inside me, it was like it wasn’t mine. Then I realize that all my life I’ve been trying to be that someone who the others around me wanted me to be, and that other someone, like my idol, who I was craving to be.. And I felt completely lost. And completely confused.
    So my question is: How can you find and get to know your true self and be this true self when you’d never known what it’s like to be true self?
    Thank you !

    • Jonathan March 24, 2012 Reply

      Hi Hrisi, it’s a discovery process that involves several steps. The whole process is outlined in my book TRUE SELF. It will guide you smoothly through the process.

      • Anei May 10, 2012 Reply


        I love my life, and I love who I am. And I am someone who has always had creativity and consequentaly has led me to become very resilient in character, more so than many others I know of, which makes me a strong person, and makes me believe I can be someone who makes a profound change on this planet – from someday owning a business to running a non-profit to being a professor or create brilliant works of music and art, to being a healer with a great reputation. The people at my schools of higher education often undervalue and underestimate me, I think because of my shyness and introspective nature, and because I am so independent as a person and so certain in who I am – that I wont let them manipulate me and I don’t care about their approval, which is sad (and doesn’t mean I don’t believe that knowing how to work with other people and communicate well and group dynamics aren’t important – because I actually highly value them). I think often times, professors, co-workers, classmates, and people in power such as supervisors, are insecure themselves though – so what I notice happen a lot is I will be at a job, but at that job, between the suprevisor and the students, the ones who are not necessarily strong people or skilled, but who are actually weak, end up just trying to get other people to like them, and split the group sometimes into poles, in which all of the sudden, work becomes a popularity contest, and even the supervisor is absorbed into it. I am more mature than that though. I dont know always how to approach these situations, though. Usually, I will leave the job after a while if I figure out that these immature and negative dynamics are not going to change. I dont know what to do though when Im in these situations, though.

        I know who I am, and that is what matters. My struggle lies in finding people, coworkers, partners, friends, supervisors and professors and directors who also value me for all of my strengths, and know how to work with me as a person – with all of my various skills/talents…in the true depth of my ability. I almost always end up in situations in which I am undervalued or even in which people try to manipulate me or “bring me down” or “push me off” or force me into moulds and categories in which I do not fit, either manipulatory, in which the person usually has some feelings of not being good enough in themselves, or jealousy because they are in a higher position in terms of some bureaucratic structure or something, yet I am better than them in certain areas in talent or skill, or they are very ignorant, or uneducated, and (probably not qualified for their job) and they are not intelligent or skilled enough to make good use of the “resource” I bring to a job or class.
        What do I do then, to find places, people and social institutions in which my level of skill and talent and intelligence etc. are used intelligently and responsibly, and are respected?

        Why are people jealous and who are unqualified for their jobs put in those positions, anyways? Why doesn’t a person in a high position, Head of such and such for example, admit when they don’t know the answer to something? Are they on a lower level spiritually? Why do other people try to push people into lower places, or negative fields? Why wouldn’t such a person try working on themselves instead? They are not mature or intelligent…I don’t get it. Are they just crazy? Thank you for your article, and I’m curious as to your response to any of this. Or does all of this fall into a different category from knowing yourself that I don’t know of?

        • Jonathan May 11, 2012 Reply

          Hi Arei, the contributing factors involved in the answers to your questions are mostly related to insecurity, ego, and fear. Why do people who run on these types of energies seem to rise to the top? Good question, but having them in those positions can and will test your integrity. The path you are on makes insecure people uncomfortable, but that is their problem – don’t let them make it your problem.

          By concentrating on setting a positive example, you raise the bar. Some will benefit themselves because of your example and that constitutes a worthwhile contribution on your part. Eventually, you will attract more and more people into your life who share your values and those who object will fall away. For now, count it as a learning and growing experience. Trust me; I know what you are going through. Keep being your true self and you will live an elevated life while creating a positive reality for yourself and those around you.

  9. Britt Reints March 3, 2014 Reply

    Great post, Jonathon. I especially liked this:

    “The expectations of those around us also exert a strong influence on our identity.”

    I describe this as being should on, and pay attention to it is one of the first steps towards finding your own definition of happiness, too.

  10. Kyle B March 19, 2014 Reply

    “Know your personal values” has had a huge impact on my own life. I’ve had the opportunity to make a list of my personal values on several occasions. This has allowed me to remain true to myself but more importantly to be able to realign some of my goals to match those values.

    Great points! Thanks for sharing Jonathan!

  11. lynne April 8, 2014 Reply

    Great article Jonathan ! I agree that knowing your personal values makes you unique. Each one of us have our own values in life, our own beliefs. Of course, the process of finding your true self book will be a great help for those who needs guidance. Finding your true self will lead you to a happily satisfied and contented life. Thanks for sharing.

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