We all have a public self that we show the world. We often have several of them that we show in different settings. Sometimes the self we show at work is a bit different from the self we show our friends. Sometimes we even have different personas we share with different friends. This is not to say that we aren’t being ourselves at any given time, but let’s face it. We show a different side of ourselves depending on who is in our company.
When we are not allowing ourselves to be authentic, there is a certain level of stress associated with that. This is particularly true if we are keeping secrets. Have you ever observed how careless people get when they are doing something they are trying to keep a secret? For instance, an affair? It’s like they are screaming to get caught! It’s because they are. No one can carry on a secret forever and no one can be something they are not forever.
The same is true if you’re staying in a bad marriage. Trying to put on a happy face, whether it’s for your spouse, your kids, your friends, your relatives. This kind of front can become exhausting. Chances are good, you’re not fooling anyone anyway. We are our best self when we are being authentic.
So what can you do to be more authentic?
(1) Be direct and say what you want. So many of us are afraid to say what we want. Sometimes this is because we simply don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or we just don’t want to engage in the conversation that we think will come next. However, when we don’t say what we want, we don’t get what we want as a result. The only way to be sure you’re communicating what you want is to just say it. Don’t think that hints will be received. This may seem difficult at first, but once you start doing it, you will start to feel more comfortable with it.
(2) Be clear about your expectations. Similar to being direct, you must be clear about what you expect from a person or a situation. When we are not clear about what we expect from people, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment and everyone else involved. Be direct. It’s okay to say, “This is what I expect from you.” No guessing, no hoping someone picks up on hints.
(3) Don’t make assumptions. When we are not direct and when we don’t express our expectations, we are making assumptions. This is true of the other person involved. If you haven’t told them what you want, then how can you be assured that they know? Likewise, if someone hasn’t told you what they want, aren’t you just guessing? What if you’re wrong? I am sure we can all think of many examples of this over the course of our lives. For instance, often when we are sensing trouble in a relationship, our partner feels it too. You are not keeping it a secret by not taking about it.
(4) Don’t worry about what other people think. You can’t please everyone. Don’t try. Part of this is not worrying about what everyone else thinks. If you’re worrying or caring about what they think, then on some level you are seeking their approval. It would be nice if we could always have everyone’s approval, but it’s just not realistic. No matter what you do, there will always be someone who has criticism or judgment. It can be difficult, but focus on what you want and not what everyone else wants.
(5) Don’t compare yourself to other people. The surest way to feel like a failure is to compare yourself to everyone else. Keep in mind, most people aren’t showing you their authentic self. You are usually seeing the best of them. Or you’re not hearing about everything, even if you think you are. It’s easy to think that because someone seems like they have a great life, an expensive car, a big house, that they have really mastered life. Just focus on you. You know what you really need in your life to feel complete. Work on what you need to do to further your own desires. Don’t worry if it doesn’t follow someone else’s script.
We all have moments when we are really inside ourselves and feel like we are being our authentic selves. Those moments are something we can have all the time. If are committed to being your true self all the time by being direct, saying what you want, not worrying about having other people’s approval and not comparing yourself to others, you are paving the way to having what you need and what you want solely for yourself. That’s a powerhouse!