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 ourselves 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.
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