What does it mean to genuinely be yourself?
It’s an interesting question because true authenticity looks different on each and every person. That’s what authenticity is, after all. It’s the truth of who we are beneath it all—beneath the layers and the masks we use to disguise ourselves.
So, why is being yourself so difficult?
Who is it we’re hiding from? What are we so afraid of?
If we could unlock the secret to being our authentic selves no matter the situation or circumstance, we could be happier. Healthier. Better balanced. More confident.
So, here’s why learning how to be yourself can be so challenging—and how to overcome those challenges to start living your most authentic life.
Why Is Being Yourself So Difficult?
Going out into in the world often requires us to use different social masks. And the mask we put on depends on where we’re going and who we’re going to be with.
Maybe you’ve noticed this about yourself, too. You act one way when you’re with family for a Saturday afternoon BBQ, and a different way when with friends at the pub. You act differently in the break room at work than you do at home as you get ready to settle in with some Netflix .
Altering your behavior to suit the social context you’re in is entirely normal. It’s an adaptive response to the world around you. But this is also where things get tricky.
That’s because some of us forget who we are beneath the social layers and masks. We lose touch with our most authentic selves.
And this is exactly why being yourself can be so difficult.
We get lost in the expectations others have of us. We get anxious around those we don’t know.
And the result?
We hide. We deflect.
And we stop being who we truly are.
What does it mean to be yourself?
Being yourself means being the most authentic version of who you are.
It’s the version of yourself you feel free to embrace when no one else is around.
It’s the version of yourself in which you feel safe and comfortable in your own skin.
No masks or pretenses. No personas or facades.
Just you, at your core.
For many of us, this is a terrifying prospect.
Because we’re afraid to let others see who we really are.
Think of it this way: if you’re not truly being yourself and you’re rejected, then it’s not really you that’s being rejected, is it? It was the fake you.
But if you’re being your most authentic self and you’re rejected. Well—that’s a whole different story, isn’t it?
The rejection feels ten times more personal and a hundred times more harmful.
And this is precisely why learning how to be yourself in front of others can be such a challenge.
Why is being yourself important?
So, you may be asking yourself: why bother?
Why go to the trouble of being who I am if it’s only setting me up for the potential of greater pain?
Well, that’s because the pain of constantly hiding is even worse.
You may not realize it, but endlessly pretending to be someone you’re not is a toxic path to follow.
It’s exhausting. And it leaves us feeling emptier than we were to begin with.
So, how do we learn to be our most authentic selves without fear or shame?
4 Ways To Be Yourself And Live More Authentically
Shaking off your fear of being yourself isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s a process.
But if you want to learn how to be yourself more often to live a more authentic life, there are a few key strategies you can use:
1. Reconnect with your inner child
When we’re kids, we don’t give much thought to society’s expectations of us.
We have no boss to report to, no daily obligations to deal with. The biggest dilemma in our day is whether to wear our dinosaur socks or our unicorn ones.
Kids are uninhibited by social roles. On the playground, we’re free to be whoever we want to be. But somewhere along the way, we lose that.
One of the best ways to begin living more authentically is by reconnecting with your inner child.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Did you have a favorite show?
What was your favorite breakfast cereal?
Spend some time with your inner kid and you’ll be well on your way to becoming your most genuine self.
2. Trust your instincts
Many of us second guess our decisions. This can become a chronic problem that leads to self-doubt and a lack of confidence.
Learning to trust yourself and your instincts takes time. But a big part of it is putting a stop to the back and forth second-guessing that happens before and after a decision.
Try this: the next time you need to decide where to go for dinner, pick the first place that comes to mind and stick with it.
No back and forth. No second guessing. And no flip-flopping.
Trust your instincts!
You know what you’re doing.
3. Stop saying yes
People pleasing is one of the reasons we lose touch with who are. We want others to be happy so we sacrifice our own wants and needs in the face of what they want.
Being considerable, respectful, and accommodating is one thing. But this can really spiral out of control.
This often stems from the expectations our parents and guardians place on us as children.
If your parents had high expectations of you as a child, you’ve likely carried much of that external pressure into your personal life as an adult.
And learning how to say no is one of the most freeing wrenches in our authenticity tool kit.
So, practice saying no every so often.
And don’t panic. You’re not going to lose friends over it.
If you do—they likely weren’t a true friend to begin with.
4. Practice self-acceptance
Unapologetically being yourself isn’t easy. But one of the biggest steps we can take to live more authentically is to accept who we are, right now, in this moment.
Not the person you want to be or the person you hope you’ll become in six months. But the person you are right now.
As Marisa Peer, Author of Mindvalley’s Uncompromised Life Program says, “If you don’t like yourself, nothing else really matters.”
And it’s true. If you’re unable to love the person you are, you won’t be comfortable revealing that self to others.
Being yourself means reconnecting with who you were, but it also means acknowledging how far you’ve come and accepting the person you are today.
Listen to your instincts. Respect your wants and needs. Practice self-acceptance.
You’ll be well on your way to being yourself in any and every situation to unlock your most authentic life.
Is it difficult for you to be yourself? What do you do to live authentically? Share in the comments below.