Our cognition and consciousness make us experience this world differently than any other living creature. The same cognition and consciousness also make us different from every other individual.
But most of our life experience, and what we call “Me,” is merely our reflection or reaction to external and internal situations. We identify with these reactions and find sticking to who we are challenging. We stop being true to ourselves.
I recently experienced this phenomenon of not being true to myself. A good friend of mine recently became unresponsive and sarcastic.
If he doesn’t show up on time for a meeting, he responds, “I don’t have a fixed schedule like you, and I have things to take care of.” When we decide to go to a place for a hangout, last-minute he used to change the plan or will never keep up his promise of showing up on time. He will apologize, but he will add, “Not everyone has the convenience and certainty in life like you.”
I genuinely tried to relate to his situation and kept on adapting myself as necessary. But things were not working for me. I wasn’t expecting an apology. I was expecting recognition and validation that I have my work also, and I am changing my plans considering his own engagements and last-minute uncertainties.
The constant invalidation and sarcasm took a toil, and I decided to respond with equal sarcasm. But soon, I realized that this is not who I am. I like to be considerate but don’t want to be sarcastic and insensitive to others’ situations. I can wait for someone, but my wait is not meant to be disregarded or invalidated. This constant tussle in our relationship made me think, speak and do things against my core values. I was not happy with this friendship anymore, and so was my friend.
Life throws many such situations in which we lose the essence of who we are, and we end up acting in a way that is completely contrary to our internal values. We end up doing something for which we hate ourselves.
So how can you remain true to yourself?
Take responsibility for your actions.
All the mess we become a part of or create in our lives is only because we don’t take responsibility for our actions. We have gotten so used to living a victim’s life that we have completely forgotten that our life is our own making. We have the power to create our own life.
Accept your feelings
When it comes to feelings, we are extremely poor at recognizing them. The way we feel is the way we think, and the way we think is the way we feel. If you think you have less time, you will feel a paucity of time. If you think the other person doesn’t understand you and your situation, you will feel you are being overlooked.
When your feeling gets out of sync with your core values, that’s when you act in a way that is contrary to who you are. And this will eventually make your life miserable.
The other big problem we face in our life is we are not honest with others and with ourselves. Often we indulge in mind-reading. We want the other person to understand our needs without us telling them. And we also make assumptions about their beliefs and opinions without explicitly communicating with us.
Consequently, it becomes challenging for us to remain honest with our asks from them. This makes us put on masks to hide our vulnerability.
We are incredibly vulnerable beings. Fear of rejection, being labeled with something we don’t like, prejudices, a chase to exhibit perfection, and pretension of courage makes us not just lie to ourselves but also constantly keep others happy.
Slowly we fall prey to our constant pursuit of people pleasing. People pleasing has a very negative effect on our life; we tend to keep doing things that will please people at the cost of our values. We slowly put on masks and get molded into a person who is no longer us. And that’s precisely when we become puppets of others’ opinions and judgments.
Every human being is born with the fundamental freedom of living his life and acting in a way that aligns with his values. Being true to yourself is a choice you make every time.