Being your true authentic self will take you courage but it is totally worth it.
Our daily lives consist of absorbing unrealistic expectations from media for what we should look like, how our romantic relationships should be, and even what we should be doing between the sheets with our sexual partners. It’s no wonder that our social media profiles are merely presentations of who we think we should be and not reflections of who we really are.
We’re just trying to fit in, be liked, and be accepted by other human beings — no one would possibly like us for who we really are, we might think.
So how do we get past all this and learn how to just be ourselves?
In my new book, Outsmart Your Smartphone: Conscious Tech Habits for Finding Happiness, Balance, and Connection IRL, I talk a lot about how to be ourselves now that we live in a hyper-digital world. These days, our personal relationships are so important to us that doing anything which could threaten those relationships can feel extra scary. We might already feel lonely and disconnected — why on earth would we want to be ourselves if that might chase people away?
Take this well-being quiz if you’d like to learn more about your current level of well-being.
Revealing our true selves can feel like a huge risk now that we live in a world where everyone is presenting themselves as perfect, attractive, and happy online.
What if we don’t feel like we are any of these things? Will being who we really are scare people away? Will everyone just suddenly abandon us?
Being yourself can feel risky, and it is. There may be people in your life who have fully bought into the idea that being a certain way and presenting a certain image is all that matters. If you start showing your true self, these people may indeed treat you differently, and that’s a risk.
But if you have to hide who you really are to be around these people, you can end up feeling lost, lonely, or even worthless, because you are basically telling yourself that who you really are isn’t OK. And other people don’t ever get to know who you really are, so you don’t feel as strongly connected to them either.
So rather than letting fear drive our self-expression, we need to learn how to accept ourselves, so we can truly be who we are.
Here are the 5 things to do, to be yourself:
1. Accept yourself.
Media (and social media) can make us feel unattractive. Models and actors are attractive, of course, but now even our friends on social media have photoshopped their pictures to perfection, often making us feel unattractive in comparison.
Lots of evidence shows that the more media we consume with attractive people in it, the worse we feel about ourselves. But because we don’t want to give up our addiction to media — an addiction that provides us with companionship, entertainment, and so many good memories — we don’t quit. It subtly tells us we’re not good enough so many times that we start to believe it’s true. Media wouldn’t lie to us, right?
Wrong! Media sets the bar impossibly high, so no matter how hard we try to improve ourselves, we always feel like we’re falling short.
2. Identify negative self-talk.
One of the ways we can better accept ourselves is to identify and challenge our negative self-talk. We always have these inner monologues chirping away at us, interpreting the events happening all around us. For many of us, this self-talk is mostly negative. For example, we might think, “I’m ugly”or “My life sucks,” when we watch TV shows or look at our social media. Or we might think, “He hates me,” if a friend posts a picture of a fun time that we weren’t invited to.
We could stop some of this painful ruminating by simply limiting our media and social media time, but we also need to practice stopping the negative self-talk.
3. Celebrate your strengths.
In addition to negative self-talk, we can also easily slide into the habit of focusing on our weaknesses instead of celebrating our strengths. We all suck at things. In fact, we all suck at most things, and that’s OK. But it can really get us down when we focus on these things instead of focusing on what we’re good at.
For example, I sometimes put myself down, because I’m not great at maintaining friendships long-term. It’s true. I’m an introvert. I don’t like texting and often feel shy about asking people to meet in person. But if we get down on ourselves regularly for the things we’re not good at, it’s going to be hard to like ourselves as much as we could.
So, in addition to trying to improve our weaknesses, we have to remind ourselves of what we are good at. If we think about it, each of us have many strengths, even if these strengths seem small and insignificant. By identifying them we realize, hey, our weird, one-of-a-kind self is pretty awesome after all.