I once heard a quote that really resonated with me which was, “Be yourself because everyone else is taken.”
We spend so much of our lives conforming to other people’s expectations and beliefs which results in us being disconnected from who we really are. It has often been said that the opposite of courage is not cowardice, it is conformity.
When we start conforming or stop being ourselves, it can have some detrimental consequences, either physically, mentally, emotionally or relationally.
I remember when I was in a career I did not enjoy, I felt trapped, unhappy and thought I didn’t have options to do something different. For years, I kept doing the same things over and over again at work, which was neither interesting, rewarding or even stimulating.
It took a physical and emotional breakdown for me to start looking at what I was doing with my life. I had to get real honest with myself and reconnect to who I really am, and what I wanted for my life. Once I started expressing the “real” me, not only did my attitude improve at work, it also filtered through the different areas of my life. What that experience taught me was that we’re all unique individuals and we should not try and be something we’re not meant to.
Here are five things that will happen if we are not expressing who we really are fully and consistently with those around us. If these things are allowed to continue for any prolonged period of time, it will have a major impact on our lives.
- You will have a victim mentality. When we’re in a victim mindset, we start blaming others for our situations and also avoid taking actions necessary to move us forward. Not only does this cause us a lot of stress, we become fatigued quite easily, which only perpetuates our inaction. If we have a victim mentality, we will avoid taking responsibility for all aspects of our lives.
- Your overall well-being will be affected. There is no denying the mind-body connection. Our thoughts can either enhance our health and vitality or they can destroy it. Physical symptoms may include lack of sleep, high blood pressure and reduced mental alertness. Emotional symptoms may include high levels of stress, mood swings, longs periods of unhappiness or even depression.
- You will feel like you are trapped. The desire for freedom is one of our most important drivers in life. If we start feeling like we lack options or are trapped, it affects our ability to be resourceful. Instead the things we believe are not going right for us will feel more intense, which will only add to the negative emotions we are already feeling.
- You will become more resentful. This will be very obvious when we see others succeeding at doing the things they love and almost automatically, we will compare ourselves to them. It will be easy to resent them and it is highly likely that we will even admonish ourselves for not having the courage to go for the things we really want in life.
- You will destroy your motivation. Whenever we’re not expressing who we are fully and consistently, we feel restricted or constrained, which affects our overall motivation levels. If we’re in an environment where we believe we cannot be ourselves, then it will affect our willingness to attempt new things in life.
The question now is; what can we do to be our true selves more consistently? Here are a few things you can do straight away:
- Develop a higher level of awareness of your beliefs, values, passions and preferences.
- Accept your situation for what it is currently but do not settle for anything that is not what you want.
- Hold yourself accountable to a new and higher standard. Get a mentor or coach if needed.
- Create a plan to get you to where you want to be. Knowing where you want to be is the starting point.
- Start taking consistent action so that you can continually move forward toward what you want.
We don’t have to hide our true selves in order to try and fit in with others. If we’re being ourselves, we will attract those who want to connect with us because they will accept us for who we are. We’re all different so we should stop pretending to be someone we’re not.
Action Step: Assess how you show up in all your personal, professional and social interactions. If you feel you are not being yourself during those interactions, make a decision to start expressing who you really are by following the five steps listed above.
Question: What is another harmful thing that will happen if we’re not being ourselves.
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