You have probably heard the advice to be true to yourself. But what does it really mean and why is it important? And how do you know if you have lost the connection with your inner self?
What Being True to Yourself Means and Why It’s Important
It means being honest with yourself about your needs, desires, and priorities in life. It’s about knowing what you want, staying loyal to your values and principles, doing what’s best for you, and chasing your dreams – not someone else’s.
When you are true to yourself, you follow your own path in life instead of seeking the validation of those around you. You are not interested in pleasing others or complying with society’s idea of happiness and success. You do your thing.
It’s important to always stay true to yourself because ultimately, it’s the only way to live a happy, fulfilled life.
No matter how attractive society-imposed goals may seem or how convincing other people may sound, pursuing things that are not meant for you won’t bring you genuine fulfillment.
Sooner or later, you will realize that you’ve wasted your life on the wrong things. You will see that you’ve had ample opportunities to be authentically happy, but you didn’t use them because you were afraid to be true to yourself.
So, if you don’t want to live a life of regrets, read through the signs below.
7 Warning Signs You Are Not Staying True to Yourself
1. You are too concerned about pleasing others
It’s natural to care for the needs of those around you. But it’s very different when you neglect your own needs for the sake of pleasing others.
How often do you step on your wants to make someone else happy? Are you afraid to say no? Do you always put others first?
Being a people-pleaser is a one-way road to unhappiness. You put yourself in a never-ending cycle of repressing your emotions and desires for the sake of doing what others want.
This is how many of us end up in the jobs we hate and with the wrong people by our side. We are so afraid to disappoint our parents, spouses, bosses, and, ultimately, the society that we choose to live a lie instead of making our happiness a priority. In the pursuit of pleasing others, we don’t realize that we are not being true to ourselves.
2. You avoid the slightest bit of confrontation
You run away from any situation where you need to stand your ground. You give in to others before an argument even starts. In reality, you don’t even know how to stand up for yourself since you are used to succumbing to others’ needs.
You always end up doing what those around you want so that they leave you in peace. So you unquestioningly go to the cinema with your friends to watch the latest Marvel movie even though you have completely different preferences.
You are used to allowing other people to violate your boundaries and make decisions for you. So you no longer even think about voicing your opinion and saying no to others.
The reality is that you don’t know how to be true to yourself.
3. You are unhappy, but you keep ignoring it
Whether you admit it or not, you are deeply unhappy. You feel like something important is missing from your life and you are totally lost. You don’t know where you are going and you feel like there is nothing good to look forward to.
Your life looks like an endless sequence of obligations, repeating activities, and pointless habits. You barely do anything for yourself, for your own happiness and joy. You just do what you are expected to.
But you stubbornly keep ignoring your misery for the sake of your loved ones’ well-being. Your family is your responsibility, and you owe them, right? So, instead of staying loyal to yourself, you bite the bullet and keep on with your usual activities.
4. You can’t do anything without others’ validation
When you are on the brink of an important decision, you hesitate a lot. You are so afraid to make a mistake that you often end up keeping things as they are.
You can’t make any decision without asking those around you for an opinion. You are convinced that they know better because you are used to going with what others say. Or you are just afraid that they won’t approve of your choice.
What will your parents say if you go for a career change after they spent a fortune on your education? What will your spouse say if you join a dance class?
Sometimes you are unsure whether you even have an opinion of your own. This goes down to a lack of assertiveness and confidence.
5. You have regrets and dream about a different life
Since your reality is so unfulfilling, you find comfort in fantasies about a different life. You imagine yourself being happy and accomplished on your own terms, not in the way others want you to.
And you dwell on regrets. You often think about what your life could have been if you had made different choices in the past.
You beat yourself up for not being more proactive in pursuing your dreams. And you regret succumbing to others’ expectations instead of following your purpose.
Therefore, you realize that you are not being loyal to yourself, but you are convinced that it’s too late to change anything.
6. You avoid spending time by yourself
When you dread spending time by yourself, it’s a warning sign something is not right in your life. In essence, you are trying to run away from yourself, your negative emotions, and all those uncomfortable truths you are afraid to face.
Are you afraid of solitude? Do you make sure you have company to spend your free time with? Do you always have your TV or music on? Are you drawn to crowded places?
This is how you run away from your thoughts and feelings. Noises and crowds silence the deep loneliness and unhappiness you feel.
Even if you are a naturally outgoing person, it’s healthy to have some alone time. If you shy away from every opportunity to stay on your own, you are not being true to yourself.
7. Your life is a lie
Sometimes you feel like your whole life is a lie and you are playing someone else’s role.
You try to be nice to your co-workers and your wife’s family. You convince yourself that you are pretty happy with your job. You pretend that your marriage is perfect, so you make sure others don’t notice that your eyes aren’t shining anymore.
Once again, you do it for the sake of making others happy and conforming to their expectations. No one knows that you sit in your car for half an hour before you go home every evening.
No matter how hard you try to convince yourself and others that everything is great, you know that it’s all a lie. In the endless cycle of faking your feelings, you no longer know how you truly are.
How to Be True to Yourself in 6 Ways
If you relate to the above, then you need to reconnect with your inner self. Here are a few ways to do it:
1. Question the motives behind your decisions
Make a list of important decisions you made during the last 10 years. It’s easier to analyze the motives behind your past choices because they no longer affect you emotionally, and you can get a clearer picture.
The problem with decision-making is that sometimes we go with emotions without even realizing it. We mistake guilt and a sense of duty for doing the right thing.
Look at the decisions on your list one by one and ask yourself,
Did I make this choice because I really wanted to? Or was it aimed to fulfill someone else’s expectations?
You may find out that most of your decisions were meant to please someone else at your expense. This can be anything from picking the wrong college to painting your living room in a color you hate.
Practice critical thinking when you face a new decision. Before you make your final choice, ask yourself,
Am I being true to myself? Am I being loyal to my principles and goals?
2. Learn to stand your ground and set boundaries
Being a people pleaser is not going to take you anywhere. This behavior can be difficult to break, but if you really want to stay true to yourself, you should learn to say no.
It won’t be easy in the beginning, but with some practice, you will know exactly when and how you need to put yourself first.
So what to do when someone asks you for a time-consuming favor or tries to talk you into a decision that won’t benefit you? Don’t immediately say yes, even if it’s your typical reaction in such situations.
The best approach is to say a gentle ‘no’ and explain the reason in a clear and assertive way. But make sure you don’t end up justifying yourself and giving lengthy explanations.
For example, saying ‘I’d love to, but I’m buried in work right now’ is much better than ‘Oh, you know, I’m so sorry, but I have to finish my report, and my boss will be mad at me if I don’t do it in time’.
Lengthy excuses of this kind will only make you look awkward and guilty. If you want to be true to yourself, you need to learn to stand your ground.
Your friends and co-workers might be used to violating your boundaries and exploiting your kindness. So you need to take small steps. Not giving them an immediate ‘yes’ is already a good start.
3. Get to know the real you
What if you are not being true to yourself because you don’t know who you are? It happens to a surprising number of people.
You live your life, follow a routine, have your established lifestyle and social circle, but you are not even sure if this is what you always wanted. But the problem is that you don’t know what you want.
So how to find out? First of all, devote some time to staying by yourself every day. Without listening to your innermost self you won’t be able to find the way. So don’t silence its voice with TV chatter and pointless talk.
You can also try meditation to deepen the connection with yourself. Be mindful of your thoughts. Where does your mind go when it wanders? What kinds of things do you dream about? This is where you need to look.
4. Stay away from critical and negative people
Overly critical, negative, and toxic people intimidate those around them. So if you spend a lot of time with such personalities, it makes sense why you feel discouraged and confused.
Even if you do have dreams that you’d like to follow, such people will convince you that the things you are passionate about are utter nonsense. Or that you have no chances to succeed.
They will impose their opinions on you and you will follow their advice. Why? Because such people sound like they are always right. If you have doubts and insecurities, you can easily fall into their trap.
So make sure you limit your contacts with negative, critical, and manipulative people in your life. Remember that staying away from toxic personalities means staying loyal to yourself.
If you struggle with defining whether you need to distance yourself from someone or not, read this article.
5. Express yourself
Whether you have an artistic bent or not, expressing yourself in creative ways can be surprisingly beneficial. In fact, there are studies that confirm the link between creative endeavors and self-actualization.
Pick a creative hobby and practice it regularly. You will feel a flood of positive emotions when you see the tangible result of your work. But most importantly, you will soon notice that your mind gets filled with fresh ideas. You may also feel more open to new activities and opportunities.
Expressing yourself is not limited to creative pursuits though. The goal is to let your inner being up to the surface in every possible way. Dare to voice your opinion. Take part in discussions. Meet new people and tell them about yourself.
All this will help you make better sense of your personality and realize what you really want in life.
6. Stop running away
If you want to be true to yourself, you need to stop hiding from your real desires and views. You need to stop pretending and succumbing to the wants of those around you. You should also deal with your habit of pleasing others.
Realize that when you constantly avoid conflict and automatically give in to others, they start to take your kindness for granted. Not only that, but you also come across as a person who doesn’t have an opinion of their own. You make yourself invisible to others.
So the next time someone tries to impose their needs or opinions on you, be honest with yourself. Pay attention to your emotional response. How do you feel about it? Do you feel confused or annoyed?
Then dare to express your real feelings about the situation and confront this person. Don’t shy away from telling them how you feel. Yes, it will be difficult and awkward in the beginning, but I promise that it will come easier after some time.
If you need an extra boost to your self-esteem, check out these guides:
- Not Feeling Good Enough? 5 Reasons Why You Feel This Way & What to Do
- 44 Powerful Affirmations for Confidence and Self-Esteem
To sum up, remember that staying true to yourself should be one of your top priorities in life. You can’t be genuinely happy if you are busy faking your feelings and fulfilling someone else’s expectations.