Are You Allowing Your True Self to Shine Through?
By Malissa Conti-Diener CA, MMT
We all want to fit in, it’s human nature. The truth is that most of us don’t always feel “liked” by everyone around us, and that is OK. Groomers as a whole are big–hearted, caring humans.
Why are we concerned, often to a fault, with whether we are enjoyed, appreciated and respected by those around us? We twist and turn at the whims of others, hoping to please everyone, least of all ourselves. We are all trying to do and say the right things so that we will be liked.
Stop and think about it, how much do other opinions of you matter to you? In this world of social media likes, competing for that endorphin–filled rush of knowing you are part of a crowd or tribe can become an affliction. If you hold back on being your authentic, true self, you are doing your gentle soul a disservice.
When we form social groups, the approval of others becomes a top priority and dictates many of our actions. At one time or another we have all fallen into the trappings of “belonging”. Actually, there is nothing wrong with finding your tribe and vibing with them! Having friends, family and social acquaintances is all part of a well–balanced career and life. But we must exercise caution. You see, investing ourselves too fully into how others perceive us can have extreme consequences.
People who frequently seek the attention and praise of others are looking for an external validation of themselves. They want something outside of them to deem them worthy, able and good. Usually, this is because, at their core, they are filled with self–doubt. So, they do what they can to increase positive feedback and eliminate negative feedback. They shrink back their own uniqueness in order to blend into the crowd.
But here’s the problem with this way of thinking: When we act in such a way that eliminates negative criticism, we also eliminate many, many possible lifestyles, actions and directions from our realm of possibility. We become slaves to that which we believe others will approve. We hide our light from the world and operate in fear, not love.
This is a tragedy! Within all of us, there are numerous things we really, deeply wish we could do, but the vast majority of us don’t do these things because we’re worried about what others will say or think. We end up sacrificing ourselves and our dreams to try to appease those around us.
Furthermore, it has been well–documented in psychological research studies that social anxiety directly correlates to an exaggerated desire to increase validation from others and decrease criticism. This means that the more you care about how others will react to what you do, the more likely you are to be socially discontented and uncomfortable. Instead of suffering these consequences, we should adopt a different attitude.
What would happen if we loved ourselves enough to show our true selves?
Caring too much about what others think of you stifles your ability to take risks and disrupts your social satisfaction. The funny thing is—whether we invest energy into making others like us or not, there will always be people who don’t. Are you going to let those who don’t like you allow you to disrespect yourself enough to hide away your unique talents and dreams?
History has shown us that many who walked in love, were still not loved by all. People can always find a reason to not like you, if that’s what they are looking for. We need to understand that we can not absorb that negative thought process from those people.
Caring too much about what others think stifles your ability to take risks. Taking risks are part of growth; growth in business, in friendships and in life. If we do not grow, we stay stuck in our own muck and mire. Don’t give others that power to control your ability to evolve and grow.
It’s so much easier to do this than to waste our lives allowing the faultfinders to dictate our actions. Also, being disliked by people is actually a sign that you’re doing something worthwhile.
Standing up for what you believe in is not social disruption. Voicing your opinion and standing on your own convictions is an important part of becoming a whole and balanced person.
When you simply mimic the values of your current company, friends or situation, your opinion stops being yours. If you agree with everything and everyone around you, it’s time to find some new places to discover; some new books; some new lessons. When you get to be the biggest fish in the pond, it’s time to find a new pond and grow from there.
Conversely, being courageous enough to “do your thing,” stand by your values and live your own lifestyle (even if it isn’t popular) is empowering because you develop a strong identity. Gradually, you become satisfied and confident in your own skin.
When your top priority is to gain the approval of everyone, you’re inviting people to befriend a shell. You’ve developed a façade disguising your complex, idiosyncratic, untidy self. Most people won’t know the “you” that’s buried beneath, and you may begin to forget that person, too. Losing yourself to the whims of your crowd is dangerous for your self esteem and self–respect, because ultimately, we are pushing our true selves aside and becoming only what pleases the crowd.
The old saying, “You’ve got to break a few eggs to make an omelet” is very fitting for us when dealing with letting our true selves out. Understand that not everyone is going to like everything you say and or do at any given time. But hey, they aren’t supposed to—it’s called compromise, and in order to be true to yourself and your tribe, you need to learn how to see others’ viewpoints as valid—including your own.
By always presenting your genuine, vulnerable, authentic self, it does strengthen your acceptance of who you are. The people who are meant to enhance your life and teach you lessons will come to you. They will be drawn in by your weirdness, different opinions and unique styles of seeing and doing things. Don’t be afraid of who you are; who and what is waiting for you will find their way to you, believe that.
I may have convinced you that you shouldn’t care as much about what other people think, but perhaps you have no idea how to go about doing that. Here are a few tips:
1. Not your job to judge: Before you’ll be able to care less about others criticizing you, you must do your best to stop criticizing people. Realize that the act of judging others reflects your own intolerance. Make note each time you feel the need to judge or criticize someone. What is it about them or the situation that makes you feel so uneasy that you need to delve into a negative space head on? Remember, our thoughts and actions are like a mirror, and what we put out there, we get back.
2. Start to expand your boundaries:Start doing a few things that you normally wouldn’t do because of your fear of what others would think or say. Groom your way, take more classes and voluntarily speak up and ask questions, show off your own unique personal style. Doing little things such as these will help you to understand that disregarding your fear of judgment and rejection is liberating! When you are busy going about the business of showing your authentic self, there is no time to waste on the opinions who judge and criticize.
3. Don’t ever be ruled by fear: As you let fear go from your social, business and family interactions, you will begin to feel better about yourself and the choices you make. You may always have to push that negative voice out of the way to let the positive voice ring true, but anything worth doing is worth the work.
4. Explore your desires and values: What do you stand for? What are important issues to you? If you’re still discovering the answers, that’s okay. We all have a conscience, give yourself permission to listen to your gut feelings. Think about what gets you fired up, excited, angry or emotional. Start saying what you really feel and doing what you sense is right for you. We can develop a deeply rooted self–esteem by diligently upholding the values that most deeply resonate within us. The more you seek to align your actions with what you feel in the heart of your being, the less you will invest in the opinions of the mud–flingers.
5. Set your sights on true resolution: If you’re feeling anxious or afraid of someone who may be directing condescending energy toward you, ask yourself: What is the worst thing that can come of this person’s distaste? What am I really afraid of? Usually, it’s nothing more than a bruised ego. In some cases (such as bullying, harassment, etc.), more severe damage can be inflicted, and action must be taken, but most of the time, we’re just afraid—afraid of not being the best, the smartest, the prettiest, the fastest, etc. It’s okay to not be these things. No one is any of these things all the time. Allow yourself to have faults, and those that you want to improve on, take the time to build them up. Knowing that you are the BEST representation of you right now in this moment is all you need to dwell on. You can change and adjust as needed as long as it is right with your soul, conscience, inner voice, etc.
6. Balance is accepting the Yin and the Yang of you: Give yourself permission to not be the things you wish you could be. Embrace the fact that all of your qualities—both your expertise and shortcomings—are essential to the uniqueness that is you. What doesn’t break you only makes you stronger. Life lessons are hard, and they are designed to be that way. In order for the lotus flower to bloom, it has to push through layers of thick mud and rise above to let its beauty show. That is good and bad, or the balance of life. Growing pains don’t stop. They come and go like the ebb and flow of water. To all things there must be balance.
With that said, sometimes people have legitimate reasons for not liking you, and you need to be able to dissect that situation and find out what or why you need to change things. Sometimes we can take it too far to the edge and become arrogant, boorish and a narcissist. That is not balanced. Constructive criticism should be used for self–improvement, self–reflection and self–adjustment. Having your tribe to bounce ideas off of and confer with about yourself is always a great thing to have.
Finding out who we are is a constant quest. We are always changing, learning and evolving. Who you are today will be different than who you are 15 minutes from now, depending on the lessons coming at you. Be open to all points of view, but always honor your own heart. You don’t need validation from others to make you whole. ✂️