If any of these examples ring true for you, then you were not being true to yourself.
Compromising our authenticity can lead to stress and unhappiness
Our society and culture still tends to expect women, in particular, to fit in, to compromise, to satisfy other people’s needs, be it their spouse, children, colleagues or parents. Trying to satisfy all those demands of people around them, women often compromise their true self, their authenticity, and often without consciously realising it.
When we are not being true to ourselves, we feel fragmented and lose confidence and trust in ourselves. It can lead to stress as our own needs remain unsatisfied. Women also find that in the long-term their health and fitness suffers, and they become increasingly unhappy and dissatisfied. In fact, in a recent Guardian article ‘not being true to oneself’ was cited as the top regret by people close to death.
When we are true to ourselves we feel satisfied and happy. We are brimming with energy, confidence and motivation; in short we feel good about ourselves.
Being true ourselves …what does that mean?
There are a lot of authors who have written about authenticity and being ourselves. Personally, I like the three components of authenticity put forward by Goffee and Jones in their book: Why should anyone be led by you?. They fit well with the NLP and other self-development processes that helped me and my clients.
In my view there are three steps to being true to yourself:
Being self-aware and conscious of your own feelings and needs
When asked whether they are self-aware, most people nod and say: Yes, of course!. But, a good number of us are not as self-aware as we think we are. Especially we women are very good at ignoring our feelings and needs in favour of those of others. And, habitually putting others first, leaves us out of practice being in tune with what we feel and need, let alone giving it a voice.
If the above resonated with you or you know a friend or colleague who falls into the others’ first and my needs are not important category, here is an easy way to raise your awareness of what you feel and what you need to be yourself:
- Ask yourself: “What am I feeling?” Name the feeling(s), and acknowledge them. Be gentle with yourself.
If you do not find it easy to name your feelings, check out this classification of emotions
- Then ask yourself: “What do I need? Name the need or needs, and whatever they are, acknowledge them.
My top tips are:
- refrain from judging and analysing your feelings and needs. What ever you feel and need it is right at that particular moment.
- Once you have named and stated them, consider how you might be able to act on your feelings and needs. Sometimes it is all about saying ‘no’ to things next time or stating what you want instead.
- Also check out my article on What’s your self-care strategy? for further inspiration.
Being grounded and comfortable with who you are
This is all about knowing and being in tune with who you are and what you stand for. You know and are proud of where you have come from and who you are now. You are comfortable in yourself and as a woman. Not being grounded means that you constantly feel the ground is shifting beneath you, and you feel unsettled and ill at ease.
If you are not already grounded in yourself, take some time to find out about yourself. Go on a fun journey of discovery allowing time for yourself to get to know who this wonderful woman, that is you, is. Questions that can help you the story of YOU , are:
- What is important to me? (ask yourself this question a number of times and for different areas of your life)
- What do I stand for?
- What is my story? And, how comfortable am I with that story? (where do you come from, you origins, how did you get to where you are now?)
- What is my identity as a woman?
To make this journey even deeper and your story more meaningful to you, consider journalling or unconscious writing. Both work best after a meditative practice. If meditation is not for you, consider putting some lovely music on after a pampering session and take some deep breaths into your core, to centre yourself before asking yourself the questions above. And, just keep writing until your inspiration rests.
Knowing and fully embracing who we are, grounds us in ourselves, and helps us to be true to ourselves and lays the groundwork for being consistent in what we say and how we act.
Being consistent and standing up for your needs and who you are
This equally applies to our interactions with others and our relationship with ourselves.
When we say things we don’t mean, and do not follow-up what we say with actions, others start to mistrust us and lose confidence in our abilities. Guess what, the same applies to ourselves. When we say we will do something for ourselves, and not do it, we lose confidence and trust in ourselves. Putting ourselves last signals to us, that we are not important, even if we are trying to portray the opposite to the outside world.
The first steps to being consistent are self-awareness and being grounded. Once you acknowledge what you feel and need, what is important to you and what you stand for, you can take action.
Let’s take an example: if you feel slightly stressed that your colleague comes to again just before your need is to focus on your own deadlines (going home, to lunch or project deadlines), and what’s important to you is being friendly and supportive, you might consider stating your feelings to your colleague and suggesting someone else as their contact point this time. It is helpful to run through these kind of scenarios, especially if they are repetitive situations, beforehand, so you already know what you are going to do and say next time the situation where you want to be true to yourself happens.
Consider the following questions:
- How do know you are being xxx or have xxx? Substitute xxx for the quality, value, need or characteristic that is important to you or you stand for. It can also be a quality or value you want to embody from now on.
- What does it mean when you are being xxx or xxx?
- What will you see, hear, feel or say, or do when you are being xxx or have xxx? (do this for any scenario where you were not true to yourself in the past and want to change how you are being)
Being clear about what it means be you, will help you to be consistent, and it will help to avoid some of those ‘wish I had not done that/said that’ episodes.
I invite you to do this practice as often as you can. It does not take long, maybe a just a few minutes every day to centre yourself in your true self – our needs change, you change and you experience different situations daily, and different things are important at different times.
Allow yourself every day to be true to yourself – like everything else it just takes a little daily practice.
Enjoy being your true self.
 In an ecological way, which means in a way safe and has a positive and evolving impact on our lives.
- What’s your self-care strategy? (beingasuccessfulwoman.wordpress.com)
- Motivation- when is it ever the right time? (beingasuccessfulwoman.wordpress.com)
- Be Where You Are, part 2 (inquirewithinme.wordpress.com)
- Are You For Real? Being Authentic In An Inauthentic World (listentomethunder.wordpress.com)
- The top regrets of dying (guardian.co.uk)