Never Perfect Always Genuine

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  • Post last modified:April 7, 2022
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Dare To Be You


Our daily lives consist of absorbing unrealistic expectations from media for what we should look like. We are constantly balancing inner and outer aspects of ourselves in order to better fit in, to become more successful, or to find love. We are driven to find “our place” in society, and we want to be respected for who we truly are and what we have to contribute. Revealing our true selves can feel like a huge risk now that we live in a world where everyone is presenting themselves as perfect, attractive, and happy online. What if we don’t feel like we are any of these things? Will being who we really are scare people away? Will everyone just suddenly abandon us? Being yourself can feel risky, and it is. There may be people in your life who have fully bought into the idea that being a certain way and presenting a certain image is all that matters. If you start showing your true self, these people may indeed treat you differently, and that’s a risk One of the problems many of us have is the inability to say no. We want to please our parents. We want to fit in at school. We want the boss to value us. We learn to say yes even when in our hearts we want to say no. We spend so much of our time pleasing others that we lose ourselves, becuase if you hide who you really are around others you can end up feeling lost, lonely, or even worthless, because you are basically telling yourself that who you really are isn’t OK. And other people don’t ever get to know who you really are, so you don’t feel as strongly connected to them either. So how do we get past all this and learn how to just be ourselves?

What makes us afraid of being ourselves

It often comes through how we interact with others or social anxiety as how we interact with others is a representation of who we are. When we think of social anxiety the first thing we might think of is fear of public speaking, the prevailing image of someone who’s shaking, stuttering, or sweating profusely in front of an audience. But a social anxiety is much more than fears of public speaking, it can be fear of small talk, looking people in the eye, writing emails, making phone calls, speaking up in class, eating in front of others, or playing group sports, just to name a few. In fact, many people with social anxiety might not have any fears whatsoever about public speaking—they might even love it; social anixiety does not equal introversion. Introversion is a characteristic of someone’s personality, and it is diametrically opposed to extroversion. Both refer to the amount of social interaction that a person wants or needs—and they have nothing to do with fear or anxiety. Specifically, people who don’t need a lot of social interaction in their lives tend to be introverted, and those who do need a lot of social interaction are extroverts. So, whereas an introvert might be ready to leave a party after an hour, an extrovert might be the last person to leave. An introvert might get “emotionally tired” faster than an extrovert and value their alone time a lot more. But whether someone needs a lot of social interaction or not has nothing to do with whether they are anxious about those very same social situations. Just because we enjoy doing something, it doesn’t mean that it won’t make us anxious. So, both introverts and extroverts might feel anxiety about social situations, and they might experience it intensely enough that it might be a sign of social anxiety disorder. When someone is diagnosed with social anxiety, they are not diagnosed becuase they are afraid or worried about any particular social situation. Instead, what they are diagnosed on whether they are experiencing extreme fears about social situations that are interfering with their lives. We tend to think of social anxiety as encompassing fears of being embarrassed, not living up to a certain standard, or having our shortcomings exposed but social anixety goes beyond concerns about being evaluated negatively, people can experience social anxiety about receiving positive feedback and being the center of “good” attention—for example, being praised for a job well done, getting a good evaluation, or being nominated for an award as it can make you feel uncomfortable and awkward and say little to nothing.. In many cases, this concern is driven by worry that there’s been some sort of a mistake and that they will be discovered as a fraud. This is what we often call “impostor syndrome ” and it can have ravaging effects. Humility is an important strength and can have social benefits. However, too much humility in certain situations can lead to depriving others of learning about you. If people can’t learn about you, it’s hard for them to connect with you, which can subsequently contribute to sub-optimal social situations. The thing people with social anxiety worry about is the past and the future. When we think of worries, we tend to think of the future: By definition, we worry about what’s to come. But people with social anxiety also frequently get stuck worrying about the past—or ruminating, to be more precise. They replay social situations in their heads over and over again, second-guessing their performance: “Oh my, what if this person didn’t like me?” “What if I said the wrong thing?” “What if they think I’m boring?” This type of rumination is called “post-event processing,” and it’s a very interesting—and destructive—way of looking at the world. It entails ruminating about the past, while also worrying about the future. A thought like, “What if they don’t like me?” has a grim implication for the future: “What if I end up alone?”

Why its important to be ourselves

First, the more authentic you are the more likely you will be to be following your own path in life, whatever that is. You will be doing what feels most natural for you, developing your interests, and cultivating your curiosity. In turn, you become highly skilled and expert at what you do. It might be that it is what you do in your leisure that gives you this sense of following your own path, or perhaps you have managed to find a way of earning your living that achieves this. Either way, as you pursue your own passions in life you develop your sense of competence. Second, the more authentic you are, the more able you are to withstand the pressures from other people around you to be the person they want you to be, rather than who you are. You will be free to be yourself, to understand your motivations and goals in life. You will better understand what makes you tick and be able to trust yourself to make decisions. The authentic person values their autonomy. Third, authentic people will have deeper and more meaningful relationships with others. Less willing to spend their valuable time in relationships with people who don’t care about them, or have their best interests in mind, authentic people seek out relationships in which they can more freely be themselves. You want to be appreciated and valued for who you are, not for who someone else wants you to be. And, in turn, you want to be able to offer the same genuine relationship to others. Next time you are asked to do something, give yourself time to reflect on what it means to you and whether it will be consistent with your values. You will find your own words. Yes, your life will begin to change. You may even lose friends. But do you want friends who wish you to do things that you don’t want to do? Being authentic means that you act in ways that show your true self and how you feel. Rather than showing people only a particular side of yourself, you express your whole self genuinely. If you’re tired of wishing you had the strength to say no, if you’re overwhelmed by living a life others expect you to, if you wish you didn’t have to work so hard for approval, if you don’t have the courage to express your feelings or the ability to be happy with who you are, then you know you’re living a life that isn’t congruent with who you are. You know you aren’t living for yourself.

How can we build a strong sense of self?

The truth of who we are is so essential that its absence takes a heavy toll, typically causing us to lose our sense of self, personal goals, and close relationships. In order to become wholeheartedly ourselves, we must try, through an often lengthy process, to discover our own personal truth — a truth that may create discomfort before giving us a new sense of freedom. Accommodating the needs of others often leads us to only reveal what’s expected of us; this, in turn, renders us unable to differentiate our true selves. Failing to live as a differentiated person leads to a sense of emptiness. When we can’t sense our own needs, we wind up feeling alienated, even from ourselves. Knowing yourself and becoming confident in who you are isn’t as easy as it may sound. Building a strong sense of yourself can seem like an impossible task at times. It’s a lifelong project figuring out who you are, what you value, and what is important to you. It is especially hard to know yourself when living in a culture that sends us constant messages about who we should be and what we should like. It makes it challenging for us to separate what we want from what other people want. It is hard to know ourselves and find our own voice in the midst of so many other dominant ideas and opinions. So, let’s get started with how you can build a strong and authentic sense of self, even when others think differently. To truly know yourself and be known by others, you must distinguish yourself by figuring out what your values, beliefs, and truths are, apart from other people’s opinions about what they should be. This will lead you to help you differntiate yourself. Look within, distinguish yourself from your surroundings, allowing you to become more self-aware. Before you make any decisions—especially life-altering decisions—you have to figure out what you want and how you want to spend your time. People who know themselves make decisions for themselves automatically. But it takes time to get there. The process of defining a self, especially later in life, can be slow. Take your time and remember that knowing yourself happens through the daily decisions you make. Being able to differentiate yourself will allow you to connect to yourself.  When developing a sense of self, it helps to stay in conversation with yourself, always exploring new ways to be who you want to be. You can do this by becoming the observer of your own life, which will help you be more attuned with your inner self. When a situation occurs, take a step back and watch your process, thoughts, and feelings, without trying to react immediately. For example, if someone asks you to do something for them, you don’t have to answer right away. Instead, you can say, “Let me get back to you.” This will give you some time to really consider your options, without having to make an instant decision. Your automatic responses can lead you in a direction that isn’t in line with yourself, and you may end up regretting it later if you don’t take your time to answer. Begin by making choices for your life, instead of looking to others to make decisions for you. By connecting to yourself you will be able to see challenges as a way to know yourself. When you’re faced with difficult situations in life, try to see them as opportunities for you to decide who you are and see what you’re capable of, each circumstance is a gift, and in each experience is a hidden treasure. When you continue to act in ways that don’t align with your values, you rob yourself of the opportunity to experience who you want to be in different situations and circumstances. How you choose to behave, think, and feel are all expressions of who you want to be. When you observe your self without judgment or impulsivity, you’re making a decision about who you are; you’re getting to know you. Situations in life, even negative ones, can always serve as opportunities.

Once you see challenges as a way to know yourself apply those actions to your life. There are a few ways that you can practice knowing yourself in your daily life, allowing you to move through life as a more distinguished self: a. Make a real effort to have your feelings line up with your logical brain by looking at the facts every situation, b. Practice sitting with the discomfort that comes from your wants not being immediately satisfied, c. Think about your personal values instead of imposing them on other people, d. When people in your life upset you or you don’t agree with them, try to stay connected to them rather than pulling away, e. Have your own ideas, values, and thoughts even if others disagree with them, f. Look beyond your initial impulsive reactions so that you can see your real intentions, and act in ways that better fit with who you want to be versus what your impulses dictate. Take obstacles, situations, and interactions with people as an opportunity to express who you are, who you want to become, and how you want to express your true self. The only way to really know who you are is to try on certain actions for size and see how they make you feel. Over time, you may notice that acting in ways that fit with who you are simply feel better than acting in ways that don’t naturally align with your true nature. Celebrating your strenghts will help you express yourself. Learning how to express yourself will help you overcome a large part of your social anixety, that is worrying about what could go wrong. Worrying about the things that can go wrong might actually contribute to things going wrong. Fortunately, we have control over where we focus our attention: If we turn our attention outward, focus on what’s happening around us, magically a lot of that bandwidth gets freed up and fills up with natural curiosity — what interests us, what questions we want to ask — and our own authenticity. This helps us understand social anxiety tells us two big lies, first being the worst case scenario is definitely going to happen. The reality of that the worst-case scenarios don’t often happen, and that the world is generally benign. To refute this lie, first imagine that worst-case scenario, specifically, in detail. If you can drill down and try to figure out exactly what you’re afraid of, what’s going to be revealed, then it’s easier to argue with, It’s harder to argue with the foggy mirage of fear.  By envisioning the exact threat, you can assess how likely it really is. And even if the worse. case happened, you wouldn’t be able to handle it. Because you would. Believe it or not, embarrassment is rarely, if ever, fatal. Have you ever seen someone spill a drink in a restaurant and as a result immediately burst into flames? In fact, you might find that even if you do have moments when you fumble and bumble, people will find it endearing rather than ridiculous. The best way to push back on these lies is getting out in the world and practicing: When we avoid, we don’t get to refute these two things. We don’t get the experience to know that most people are nice, bad things don’t usually happen, people are happy to be helpful. Not all the time, but most of the time. And yes, bad things might happen, but we can handle it. And as much you’d love to roll back the clock and erase that cringe-worthy moment painful as it is, and as inclined as we are to inter all of the cringe moments in a little tiny box and bury them deep in our heads, its is important that we embrace the cringe. In owning it. In talking about it. Our cringe moments comprise the anti-resume of the “brand” that is your life, and your self. They’re a valuable catalog of all the missteps and embarrassments.

How we learn to be ourselves

In order to learn how to be yourself you must learn how to accept yourself. Media (and social media) can make us feel unattractive. Models and actors are attractive, of course, but now even our friends on social media have photoshopped their pictures to perfection, often making us feel unattractive in comparison. Lots of evidence shows that the more media we consume with attractive people in it, the worse we feel about ourselves. But because we don’t want to give up our addiction to media — an addiction that provides us with companionship, entertainment, and so many good memories — we don’t quit. It subtly tells us we’re not good enough so many times that we start to believe it’s true. Media wouldn’t lie to us, right? Wrong. Media sets the bar impossibly high, so no matter how hard we try to improve ourselves, we always feel like we’re falling short. Accepting ourselfves also means we have to identify negative self-talk. One of the ways we can better accept ourselves is to identify and challenge our negative self-talk. We always have these inner monologues chirping away at us, interpreting the events happening all around us. For many of us, this self-talk is mostly negative. For example, we might think, “I’m ugly” or “My life sucks,” when we watch TV shows or look at our social media. We could stop some of this painful ruminating by simply limiting our media and social media time but in order to pratice stopping the negative self-talk we must develop the courage to face your fears. People  tend to be most comfortable with what is familiar. The unfamiliar is often challenging, at least at first. Examining your inner core beliefs can be like exploring a foreign landscape you are unfamiliar with. So when you touch upon a disconnect between your adaptive and authentic selves, your heart may race or your hands could get clammy. You may naturally feel afraid to look too deeply into yourself for fear of what you might find. Our authentic self often has a lot of fear, sadness, and anger—our true selves were hurt and that’s why the adaptive self took over. However, the difficult secrets we hide from ourselves are what make us who we really are. So as much as possible, and as slowly as you need to, courageously explore the truth of what makes you who you are. This helps you celebrate your strenghts. Developing the courage to face your fears will allow you to show your vulnerability. Another important step to being ourselves is showing our vulnerability. Most of us, don’t really want to show the parts of us that we don’t like — the parts that scare us or make us feel ashamed, embarrassed, or weak. It’s not so easy to share these parts of ourselves. We worry — What if others change their opinion of us, reject us, or abandon us? It’s scary to be so openly vulnerable — it’s like opening up an old wound and telling others right where to poke you. But to fully be ourselves we have to be our full selves. We can’t just pick and choose the parts that we like. So we have to be vulnerable from time to time. In addition to negative self-talk, we can also easily slide into the habit of focusing on our weaknesses instead of celebrating our strengths. We all suck at things. In fact, we all suck at most things, and that’s OK. But it can really get us down when we focus on these things instead of focusing on what we’re good at. While trying to improve our weakness,  we have to remind ourselves of what we are good at. If we think about it, each of us have many strengths, even if these strengths seem small and insignificant.

How we are born with flaws

From the simplest microbes to the towering redwoods, it all began with a mistake. And then another. And then another. Out of this swarming chaos emerged everything that lives, including us. One exciting way to make sense of the human animal, the most unlikely of creatures, is through scrutinizing our shortcomings. While the human body is indeed a marvel, it is far from perfect. For example, we have nasal sinuses that drain upward, genes that don’t work, nerves that take bizarre paths, and muscles that attach to nothing. While these can fairly be called flaws, they are not flukes and, in most cases, they do not defy explanation. Rather, our many glitches hide fascinating tales of the lives our ancestors once lived. Ours is a history of triumph against all odds. But, you might ask, how could these flaws have come about? Yes, mutations are random and often harmful, but isn’t it the job of natural selection to weed out those mistakes and march us toward perfection? Unfortunately not. As our many human errors make clear, evolution is clumsy, aimless, and utterly indifferent. We are not evolved to be healthy or happy or comfortable. We have evolved only to survive and reproduce. Evolution is a game of cruel compromises and sloppy trade-offs. What more can we expect from a process that works through the randomness of mutations? But we have made it this far. Our flaws also speak to our greatness. Part of why we have so many glitches is that we are very good at getting around them. By evolving a big brain, we took the pressure off our body to be perfect. Using our body alone, we could never live in climates from the Sahara to Antarctica, but by using our brain, we can thrive almost anywhere. From the hand axe to the smart phone, we have a long history of using technology to augment the limits of our bodies, our ancestors were dreamers and planners. Rather than doom and gloom, a full accounting of our glitches and limitations provides clues on how to live in better harmony with a body that was shaped for a very different world. Despite our many flaws, we have accomplished so much that is worth fighting for. Expecting our bodies or minds to be perfect is not reasonable, but fortunately, evolution’s standards are much lower than that. All we must do to continue to thrive is to learn from our mistakes. But before we can learn from them, we must acknowledge them

What are some flaws that make you more loveble?

Being embrassed easily is actually an flaw that makes you more lovable. Our visible signs of embarrassment are often more embarrassing than the event that precipitated them. Some people find these signs so humiliating that they resort to surgery to destroy the nerves responsible for blushing and sweating. But as unpleasant as embarrassment may be for those experiencing it, it turns out that other people find it appealing. In one series of studies, participants who displayed more visible signs of embarrassment while recounting an embarrassing moment were judged by observers to be more cooperative, trustworthy, and generous, and observers were more interested in spending time with them. Rather than signaling weakness or a lack of social skills, embarrassment seems to signal that a person values relationships and is likely to be loyal and reliable. Embarrassment-prone people may make especially good romantic partners, the researchers suggest, since they seem more likely to remain faithful. Another flaw that makes you lovable is you overshare. Needless to say, revealing too much personal information with the wrong people in the wrong settings can be disastrous, and having no social filter whatsoever is clearly problematic. But a tendency to err on the side of oversharing isn’t necessarily the worst thing when it comes to building new relationships and deepening existing ones. According to social penetration theory, gradually revealing personal information about oneself is an important way to develop closeness and intimacy. Getting from the superficial level to the real stuff requires a leap into uncharted territory. A moment of vulnerability, uncomfortable as it may feel at the time, can be the thing that breaks down walls and allows a more authentic relationship to grow. It’s not that we can forge immediate and lasting bonds with literally anyone just by sharing intimate information. People who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable, however, create more opportunities for meaningful connection. Being an klutz makes you more lovable becuase it makes you more human and relatable. As long as you’re generally capable, a mistake here and there can help others feel more comfortable around you—and more likely to acknowledge their own mistakes. One flaw that may not seem lovale is gossip as they say no one likes gossip. But the research suggests otherwise. Although some types of gossip are clearly harmful, others are geared towards protecting people from harm by warning them about dangerous people or situations. Sharing information about backstabbing friends, philandering partners, or corrupt employers may seem petty, but it serves a useful function—not only does it benefit potential victims, but the threat of being the subject of negative gossip can help keep would-be exploiters in check. Sharing this type of “prosocial” gossip with others communicates that you care about them and trust them, and that can bring you closer. Unfortunately, sharing nastier gossip can make you feel closer, too (in an “us vs. them” sort of way), but that kind of closeness is less likely to last, especially when all parties are left wondering when they might become the next victim. Being a “good” gossip requires being able to distinguish useful and benignly entertaining forms from more destructive ones. Another flaw that may not be seen lovable is brutual honest.  Too much honesty can get you into trouble, but it also shows people they can trust you to be straight with them, even if the truth is painful. People who express their authentic feelings, rather than just say whatever they think others want to hear, tend to have more satisfying relationships and are happier in general. Being honest about how you feel may result in more arguments than if you just pretend everything is fine, but expressing negative emotions isn’t necessarily bad for relationships, and depending on the circumstances, can even make them stronger. Brutal honesty may not be appropriate in all situations and with all people—knowing where to draw the line is critical—but forthright people tend to make great friends and romantic partners, not only because they don’t let us get away with bad behavior but because when they compliment us, we know they really mean it.

Questions

1. why is it important to be yourself?

2. what is the hardest part of being yourself?

3. What is the most unrealistic expectation you have for yourself? what is the most unrealistic expectations you think others have for you?

4. do you find it harder to live up to your expecation of yourself or other’s expecations of you?

5. What of negative self talk do you often have?

6. When do you find it hard/when did you find it the hardest to have confiedence in yourself?

7. What triggers your social anxiety the most?

8. how can we build our sense of self?

9. why is it hard to embrace our flaws?

10. how do flaws makes us beautiful?

11. what flaw do you find the hardest to embrace?