I feel an increasing sense that something is missing in my life. I’ve spent my whole life trying to please everyone around me and make sure they approve of me — but I don’t like who I’ve become. I’m not sure I even know who I am. I think I need help learning to be true to myself. Any advice?
Somewhere along the way you subconsciously decided to conform yourself to win attention, love or validation. You are now experiencing the emptiness that results from betraying your true self to please other people.
Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” But all of us, on occasion, betray ourselves to win the approval of others.
Here are some principles that may help you to be the authentic you.
Principle: What others think of you is irrelevant.
People can think whatever they want, but their opinions don’t change who you are. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
If you think you are a bad person, that is one thing. But what other people think about you holds no power to hurt you. Their opinions cannot diminish you. You are the same you regardless.
At some point you are going to have to let go of trying to earn approval from others. You are going to have to choose not to care what they think. Today would be a good day to do that. Take your power back. Your opinion is the only one that matters.
Principle: Comparing yourself to others makes no sense.
You are intrinsically and extrinsically different from everyone else on the planet. You are on a different journey and learning different lessons. You have different gifts, talents, flaws and weaknesses. You are so entirely different you are incomparable.
Comparing people is like comparing a cherry, a peach, a strawberry, a raspberry and a grape and trying to decide which is better. There is no way to judge that. They are too different to be comparable and they are all wonderful in their own way.
There will always be people who are more pretty, smart, strong, tall or thin than you, but there will always be people who are less pretty, smart, strong, tall or thin than you — and there will never be another YOU.
Make a rule in your head against comparing yourself to others. It’s a waste of your time and energy.
Principle: The more you try to impress others the less impressive you are.
Don’t conform or change your opinions to win the approval of others and change them again with another group of people. When you behave like this, people can't trust you. They can tell you aren’t authentic and they will quickly lose respect for you.
People respect authenticity. Knowing who you are earns their respect even when they disagree with you. So develop and express your own ideas, sense of style and way of thinking. If you don’t know how you feel about a topic, own that, too. Ask questions and gather information until you do have an opinion.
Be yourself and people will always respect you.
Principle: Confidence comes from embracing the whole you.
You can’t be yourself if you don’t know yourself. Take time to explore your personality, your values, your opinions and your beliefs. Embrace not only the good qualities about yourself, but also your flaws, faults and weaknesses.
Your flaws, fault and weaknesses are a beautiful part of who you are — and they do not take away from your value. Your authentic self isn’t always pretty, but it is all perfectly you.
Your flaws and mistakes also connect you with other people. Own them all and choose to feel comfortable being imperfect — everyone else is imperfect, too.
Principle: Don’t define yourself by your past.
You are not your failures and mistakes. They were just situations (or locations on your journey) and lessons you learned. They are not “who you are.”
Your past served you by teaching you things. Embrace the lessons and let the rest go, like a city you drove through long ago. That place doesn't affect who you are now because you aren't there anymore.
Principle: Be genuine and loving.
Poet e.e. cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” It does take courage to be authentic, but once you get there, it is the most freeing feeling in the world.
Instead of trying to impress others, focus on loving, lifting and validating other people. When you take the focus off you and choose to love and validate other people, the real, amazing, genunie you shows up.
Love is who you really are. When you chose to focus on loving others, the fears about your value disappear. Keep working at it.
You can do this.
The strongest force in the universe is a human being living consistently with his identity. ~Tony Robbins
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing self esteem. Watch Coach Kim on KSL TV every Monday at 6:15am.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.