Fitting in seems like the norm in today’s world; after all, it is quite easy, or is it? Here’s the problem with pretending to be someone you’re not: it is not satisfying and will leave you with a nagging sense of unhappiness.
If you’re ready to learn how to be true to yourself ― to break free from the mold ― this article will guide you to discover and honor your authentic self.
Keep reading to figure out ways to stop playing a part, live an authentic life on your own terms, and embrace the awesomeness that is you!
What It Means to Be Your True Self
Researchers say that authenticity is an important psychological need, but what exactly does it mean to be your authentic self?
Being authentic is staying true to your values, beliefs, and desires, regardless of outside factors. It means not conforming to societal expectations or pretending to be someone you’re not. Being true to yourself involves embracing and expressing your unique qualities, strengths, and individuality.
Those who are true to themselves can say:
- I know my likes and dislikes, and I express them confidently
- I prioritize self-care, taking good care of my physical, emotional, and mental health
- I own my unique gifts, traits, and abilities
- I define and align with my values and principles
- I love myself completely and treat myself with kindness when I make mistakes
While the concept of authenticity is easy to understand, embracing who you are can be tough for many.
And here’s why.
Society has conditioned us to accept certain standards and strive to live up to them. As we grow older, we forget what it feels like to explore and live in the moment without fear of judgment.
Over time, our self-worth and identity become dependent on society’s standards, even if the norms don’t sit well with us.
Scientists have long revealed our flock mentality; most of us simply copy what a few other seemingly “more informed” people do without realizing it.
The good news is that anyone can break free and de-program their minds from societal norm thinking or herd mentality. Yes, it takes courage ― lots of it ― to let your true self shine through.
But that’s a small price to pay compared to constantly living under a façade and regretfully putting up with the dissatisfaction of trying hard to be what you’re not.
How to Be True to Yourself: 5 Ways to Discover and Honor Your Authentic Self
1. Accept and Love Your Uniqueness
One of the biggest ways we get in our own ways is by comparing ourselves with others. We look in the mirror and think we’re “less than” because we see our “ordinary self” staring back at us instead of our favorite celebrity.
We focus too much on and want someone else’s physique, success, or fame that we hardly acknowledge and revel in our own uniqueness.
In other words, your attention is most likely turned outward, and you’re seeking external approval if you always feel not good enough.
However, embracing and loving your uniqueness is the first step to being true to yourself. Usually, I would recommend focusing on your unique strengths and qualities, but you probably heard that countless times.
Here’s what I mean when I say accept and love your uniqueness: embrace the freedom to be yourself fully and unapologetically.
Don’t stop focusing on only your strengths; love who you are, flaws and all. Remember, every aspect of you makes you who you are, so embrace everything about yourself, not just the positive qualities.
One more thing.
Stop basing your value and self-worth on external approval or validation. You are special in your own way; we all are!
Fall head-over-heels in love with yourself ― your quirks, flaws, and personality! If you don’t know how or need a little refresher course, check out my simple guide to learn how to fall in love with yourself all over again.
2. Always Protect Your Uniqueness
Staying true to yourself means protecting the essence of what makes you uniquely awesome. However, we often let external pressures, negativity, judgment, and shame sway us from expressing our true thoughts and desires.
The ideal solution? Distance yourself from situations and people who disrupt your inner harmony.
It is okay not to respond to triggering messages (at least not immediately). And it’s perfectly fine to politely excuse yourself from negative situations whenever possible.
Here’s the thing, though.
You can’t always escape sticky situations. For example, walking away from an annoying family member, an overbearing boss, or a toxic partner might not be possible under some circumstances.
While this is true, you can create a safe mental space for yourself where you can go during difficult moments and protect what makes you unique.
Whenever you find yourself in situations where you can’t physically remove yourself, step back, take a deep breath, and turn inward. Use such moments to contemplate your core values that can guide you through the situation.
And in such situations, it can be helpful to ask yourself what you’ll most want to say if fear wasn’t a factor. This way, you connect with your authentic response to the situation.
Always remember that you have ultimate control over yourself, and no one else should dictate your choices or define who you are. Stay true to yourself, honor your values, and embrace the power to shape your own path.
3. Make It Okay to Spend Time Alone
I know this can be difficult for many people, but make it okay to spend time in solitude. In a world where nearly everyone craves constant company, it’s easy to lose sight of your own desires and aspirations. However, spending time alone is an important step in learning how to be true to yourself.
To find your true authentic self, be deliberate about setting aside time alone, not just from people but also from technology. Do this as often as possible to help you pause and honestly inquire, “Is this truly what I want?”
This way, you give yourself the gift of making important life decisions with greater clarity and assertiveness. In other words, discovering what you truly want empowers you to confidently say no to things that don’t resonate with your inner truth.
You allow yourself the freedom to be authentic and genuine when you immerse yourself in solitude.
Don’t be afraid to date yourself ― to create time for loving, caring, and showering attention on yourself as if you were your own romantic partner.
Being alone from time to time frees you from external influences, such as the expectations of loved ones, societal pressures, and the overwhelming presence of social media.
Giving yourself space to introspect and reflect without constantly being in other people’s company opens the door to a profound understanding of who you really are.
4. Stick Up for Yourself
Your thoughts, feelings, wants, and desires are valid; never let society or anyone tell you otherwise!
Look deep within to discover what you truly want. Ask intriguing questions that will peel back all the layers, allowing you to get to know yourself better. Once you identify what it is you want out of life, honor it regardless of differing opinions or external factors.
You don’t have to wait for some life-altering situation to stick up for yourself.
Honor your authentic desires even in everyday situations, such as voicing your opinion respectfully and confidently, saying no when you are unwilling or unable to do what someone asks, or choosing something different than your friends.
Sometimes, we betray our true selves by settling for less, doing what others want (instead of what we truly want), or following some arbitrary standards. At other times, we compromise our values to make others like us or to “fit in.”
Staying true to yourself means listening and following your heart, trusting your instincts, and sticking to your values. It is also respectfully speaking your mind without editing yourself, regardless of what others may think.
Every day and in every way, find ways to stand up for yourself in your actions and words. This allows your true authentic self to shine through.
5. Practice Positive Inner Talk
Normalize treating yourself with kindness, and I don’t mean buying stuff for yourself (although that’s not a bad idea). Every day, speak to yourself kindly, regardless of what your actions or results are.
Practice praising yourself not only when things are generally good but also when you mess things up.
Stop berating yourself when you make mistakes, and avoid comparing yourself to others. Remember, comparing your unique self is to insult who you are.
In learning how to be true to yourself, you must realize that you are threading a less-traveled path, and the journey can feel lonely sometimes.
However, being your authentic self will always feel more satisfying than trying hard (and failing) to be what you’re not.