9 psychological barriers to being true to yourself and how to overcome them

There’s a significant gap between who we are and who we present ourselves to be.

The underlying cause? Psychological barriers that prevent us from being true to ourselves. These barriers often go unnoticed, but their impact on our lives is undeniable.

In this article, I’ll delve into nine of these psychological barriers. More importantly, I’ll suggest ways to overcome them, helping you live a more authentic life.

This isn’t about changing who you are, rather it’s about embracing your true self. So, buckle up and prepare for a journey to self-discovery.

1) Fear of judgment

Let’s be honest, we all care about what others think of us to some extent. This fear of being judged or not accepted by others can be a significant barrier to being true to ourselves.

You might find yourself modifying your behavior, choices, or beliefs based on what you think others expect from you. But this can lead to a life that feels inauthentic and unfulfilling.

The key to overcoming this barrier is to realize that it’s impossible to please everyone. You’ll inevitably encounter people who don’t agree with you or don’t appreciate your unique qualities. And that’s okay.

Remember, it’s your life. You’re the one who has to live with your choices, so make sure they’re ones you can be proud of.

Start by taking small steps towards being more authentic. Express your opinion even if it’s unpopular, dress in a way that reflects your personal style, and make choices based on what feels right for you, not what you think will please others.

It might feel uncomfortable at first, but with time, you’ll find it liberating to live a life that’s true to who you are.

2) Perfectionism

Speaking from personal experience, perfectionism can be a major roadblock to authenticity. I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist, striving for the best in everything I do – from work to my personal life.

But aiming for perfection often led to an immense pressure that made it difficult for me to be myself. I would often hide my mistakes or flaws, for fear they would make me seem less perfect. This created a facade that was far removed from who I truly was.

The turning point came when I realized that perfection is an unrealistic goal. We’re all humans, and humans are inherently flawed. It’s our flaws and mistakes that make us unique and human.

To overcome this barrier, I had to learn to embrace my imperfections. It’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to not know something, it’s okay to not be perfect.

I started sharing my struggles and failures with others, and found that it didn’t make people think less of me. In fact, it made them see me as more human and relatable.

So if you’re stuck in the trap of perfectionism, remember: it’s your imperfections that make you unique and real. Embrace them, share them, and let your true self shine through.

3) Self-doubt

Self-doubt can be a crippling psychological barrier when it comes to being true to yourself. It’s that nagging voice inside your head, telling you that you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not capable enough.

The reality is, everyone experiences self-doubt. Even Albert Einstein, one of the greatest minds in history, suffered from self-doubt. He once remarked, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”

The first step in overcoming self-doubt is acknowledging its existence and understanding that it’s a common part of the human experience. Next, try to challenge these negative beliefs by focusing on your achievements and strengths.

Remember, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. It’s about recognizing your worth and capabilities, and not letting self-doubt stop you from being your authentic self.

4) Lack of self-awareness

Being true to yourself requires a clear understanding of who you are. Your values, passions, strengths, and weaknesses. But often, we’re too caught up in our busy lives to take the time to reflect on these things.

This lack of self-awareness can lead us to live a life that’s guided by others’ expectations and societal norms, rather than our own desires and goals.

Overcoming this barrier involves taking time for self-reflection. Journaling, meditation or even taking personality tests can be helpful tools for understanding yourself better. Ask yourself questions like, “What truly makes me happy?” or “What motivates me?”

The more you understand about yourself, the easier it becomes to make decisions that align with your true self. It’s a journey of self-discovery that leads to a more authentic and fulfilling life.

5) Social conditioning

From the day we’re born, society shapes our thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs. This social conditioning can often lead us to live in ways that are not true to our authentic selves.

We might find ourselves pursuing a career path because it’s what our parents expect, or suppressing our true feelings to fit into societal norms. These external influences can make it hard for us to recognize and honor our true selves.

Breaking free from social conditioning is not easy, but it is possible. Start by questioning the beliefs and norms you’ve been taught. Are they truly aligned with who you are and what you want?

Next, surround yourself with people who support and encourage your authentic self. They can provide the strength and validation you need to break free from societal expectations.

Lastly, remember that it’s your life. You have every right to live it in a way that feels true to you.

6) Fear of change

Change can be scary, especially when it involves altering the way we present ourselves to the world. But often, fear of change is what keeps us from embracing our true selves.

We might be afraid of how others will react, or we might fear the uncertainty that comes with stepping out of our comfort zone. This fear can keep us stuck in patterns that don’t reflect who we truly are.

But here’s something I want you to remember: change is an inevitable part of life and growth. It’s okay to be scared, but don’t let that fear hold you back from being true to yourself.

Embrace change as an opportunity for self-discovery and growth. Trust in your ability to adapt and thrive in new situations.

Remember, it’s through change that we learn more about ourselves and become more aligned with our true identity. So take a deep breath, embrace the unknown, and let your true self shine.

7) Lack of self-love and acceptance

This is a tough one. I remember times when I felt unworthy of love and acceptance, causing me to suppress my true self. It’s a heavy burden to carry, and it can prevent you from being authentic.

You might find yourself trying to be someone you’re not in order to feel accepted or loved. But in doing so, you’re denying yourself the love and acceptance you deserve.

The journey to self-love and acceptance starts from within. It’s about recognizing your worth and learning to love yourself, flaws and all. It’s about treating yourself with the same kindness and compassion that you extend to others.

Overcoming this barrier is a process, but it’s one that leads to a more authentic and fulfilling life. So start today, start with small steps, start by saying “I am enough” and truly believing it.

8) The need for control

We often feel the need to control every aspect of our lives, including how we are perceived by others. This need for control can often mask our true selves as we try to project an image that we believe is acceptable to others.

This constant monitoring and controlling can be exhausting and unfulfilling. It’s like wearing a mask all the time – one that hides your true self.

The key to overcoming this barrier is to let go of the need for control. Understand that it’s okay to be vulnerable and show your true self. You don’t have to have everything under control all the time.

Focus on living in the moment and expressing your genuine feelings and thoughts. It might be uncomfortable at first, but with time, you’ll find it liberating to be your true self.

9) Living in the past or future

Focusing too much on the past or future can hinder us from living authentically in the present. It’s easy to get caught up in regrets of the past or worries about the future, but this can prevent us from fully expressing our true selves.

The past and future are out of our control. The only moment we truly have is now. So let go of past regrets and future anxieties, and focus on being true to yourself in the present moment.

This doesn’t mean you should ignore your past experiences or future goals. Instead, learn from the past and plan for the future, but always remember to live in the now. It’s in the present moment where you can truly be yourself.

Final thoughts: Embracing authenticity

The journey to being true to yourself often involves confronting deep-seated psychological barriers. But remember, these barriers aren’t insurmountable.

Reflect on the words of the esteemed psychologist, Carl Rogers: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

At the core of this journey is the acceptance and love for your true self – with all its strengths, weaknesses, quirks, and idiosyncrasies. It’s about embracing the beauty of your uniqueness and letting go of the need to conform to societal norms or expectations.

Overcoming these barriers doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process, a journey that requires patience and courage. But the reward is a life lived authentically, where you are free to express your true self without fear or reservation.

So, take a moment to reflect. Are there barriers holding you back from being true to yourself? And more importantly, what small step can you take today to start overcoming them?

Picture of Graeme


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