10 signs you’re not being yourself and what to do about it

You would think it would be an easy thing to be yourself. After all, you’ve been with yourself your entire life. You have a pretty good handle on who you are. Or so you think. 

The truth is that many people can go their whole lives without examining and understanding their true selves, says self-help coach Tony Robbins. They allow society to tell them what their dreams and goals are, or what they should be. 

For the majority of people on the planet this is the easy way to go about the business of life. But in actuality, if you look at the bigger picture, this becomes a much harder path. 

Not tapping into your own authentic self or losing yourself in the desires and demands of others—your parents, your partner, your children, your friends, your colleagues—can make you doubt your own decisions.

Even worse, it can make you disinherit the stirrings of your soul so much that you never get to tap into yourself on a higher level. 

Not sure if this is you? Here are ten signs to look for if you’re concerned deep down that you may not be showing up in the world as the truest version of yourself—and what you can do to turn it around. 

1) You find yourself filtering a lot of what you feel before saying it—or just not saying anything at all

Being yourself doesn’t mean you have to tell your best friend that she looked better as a brunette than as a blonde, for example. There’s no need to be rude, after all. It doesn’t take anything away from you to simply say the new look is a cool new vibe. 

But it does mean speaking up at the next board meeting about how you don’t like how the company treats its customers who can’t speak English very well, for instance. 

It also means politely-but-firmly declining a crocodile skin handbag because you believe in animal rights, instead of saying it’s beautiful and accepting it. 

It means firmly turning down a business trip because it coincides with your best friend’s wedding or your mom’s cataract surgery and you want to be there for her. 

If you feel strongly about something, say it strongly (without being insulting). Make sure you say something even if you’re afraid to say it, and even if your voice comes out all shaky. 

It might be scary at first, but not only will others respect you for speaking your mind, more importantly, you’ll respect yourself.

2) You’re practically a certified people-pleaser 

Do you find yourself mostly—or always—going out to eat at restaurants that your partner primarily prefers?

Did you cancel your hair appointment because your mother suddenly wants you to come over and help her spring clean the basement?

Giving in to a loved one’s agenda might seem like you’re being a loving and flexible partner or the dutiful daughter who takes pride in being there for her family. 

The truth is that if this is a behavioral pattern on your part, then this “flexible” attitude is a front for something else—namely putting other people’s priorities over your own. 

You’re basically telling yourself that your own plans are not as important and that it’s fine to break your commitments to yourself at the drop of a hat.

Now we’re not saying to keep that hair appointment when you get a call that your father isn’t feeling well and may have to go to the hospital, of course. 

What we are saying is that it’s perfectly fine to prioritize yourself when it comes to pleasure. 

3) You’re putting other people’s needs ahead of your own to keep the peace 

This is similar to the above but more pointed. Being a parent and putting your children’s needs ahead of your own is one thing, but you also have to take care of yourself.

If this means asking your spouse to step up their child-rearing so that you can catch a break, then you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. 

An essential part of being true to yourself is recognizing that you have needs to, and speaking up for yourself. You don’t have to—nor should you—just grin and bear it so that the other person doesn’t get annoyed or is “inconvenienced.” 

4) You’re not advocating for yourself

If you’re someone who has no problem speaking up for your needs in the home but finds it very difficult in, say, a health setting, you’re not alone. 

Many people find it difficult to advocate for themselves when it comes to their health. They’ll downplay their symptoms to their healthcare provider. Or they don’t push their doctor to look into more intensive medical tests. 

In actor Selma Blair’s memoir, the Legally Blonde and Cruel Intentions alum had years—even decades—of recurring symptoms. Headaches, body pain, shakiness, balance issues, and urinary tract infections became the norm for her starting in childhood—so much so that she secretly used alcohol to cope. 

Every time Blair sought help as an adult, she says that doctors wouldn’t take her seriously and often alluded that her “symptoms” were all in her head.

It was only in her mid-forties when Blair risked being vulnerable and took to social media to talk about the symptoms she was experiencing. An actor acquaintance who happened to see the post suggested that Blair see her brother who is a neurosurgeon. 

A simple MRI led to a diagnosis that had long alluded Blair: she in fact has multiple sclerosis (MS). Now, not only is Blair a fierce advocate for herself, she’s also an advocate for others. 

5) You’re not setting—or following through—with boundaries 

signs youre not being yourself and what to do about it 10 signs you’re not being yourself and what to do about it

Do you fall back into a pattern of being the sounding board for an old boyfriend whenever he is in between relationships? You know you’ve long outgrown this person and you have nothing in common but old habits continue to die hard?

A big (make that huge!) part of being yourself is creating boundaries around people, places, and things that no longer serve the real you. 

This means that not everyone gets to have access to you. Some people need to stay in the past for a reason. And that’s perfectly okay. 

Boundaries don’t just necessarily apply to people. If you’re in alcohol recovery and are trying to change your life, for example, then it’s wise to refrain from going to bars and pubs if you feel that these places are triggers for you and could make you relapse. 

This doesn’t mean that you have to stop hanging out with the friends who do drink altogether (although getting out of a social pressure environment is strongly encouraged), but until you trust yourself to be in that setting as a sober person, then it’s a wise decision. 

6) You’re worrying about what other people will think

Speaking of peer pressure, do you find yourself worrying about what other people think in terms of your social status, wealth, job, and the like? 

Are you considering buying that luxury car that’s out of your league because your “cool” friends have one when the truth is that really you could care less about the status symbol of your ride as long as it gets you from Point A to Point B safely and efficiently? 

This kind of herd mentality takes you away from what is truly important and authentic to you. 

In the grand scheme of things, who cares what your house looks like or what kind of car you drive?

What matters is that you stay true to your own path and are proud of the talents you’re sharing with the world. 

7) You think your desires and dreams are frivolous and not even worth pursuing

Since we’re talking about talents, many people tend to disown their own dreams because they don’t fall “in line” with what they think they should be doing in life. 

You may have an artistic side, for instance, but you never explored this aspect of yourself because you come from a family of doctors, lawyers, or teachers and the expectation has always been that you would go into the family business so to speak. 

Or perhaps you keep coming back to the idea of getting a university education but no one in your family pursued a secondary education and this makes them uncomfortable or feel inferior so they’re not supportive. 

You may find yourself sticking to the status quo because you don’t want to risk alienating the relationship. 

This kind of thinking will not only keep you stuck but it will most likely be a thorn to the relationship in that it will foster a sense of resentment (and feelings of bitterness) sooner or later.

Go with your own flow and those who truly love you will come around. 

8) You second-guess yourself

It’s not easy being yourself when you’re a little—or a lot—different from the crowd. For this reason, it’s easy to second-guess your choices

Maybe every other couple you know has kids but you don’t see yourself as a parent. Your friends tell you that you’ll change your mind one day or that you’ll live to regret it. They’ve said it before and it never bothered you, but after years of the same conversations, you can’t help but wonder. 

So you start to second guess yourself

The only thing we can say is that the best person who knows what’s right for you is you. No one else can decide that for you or even influence you to make a commitment to something you simply aren’t sure of. 

9) You don’t trust yourself 

Having the world buzzing in your ear is a sure fire way to take you away from yourself.

I have a friend who fell in love with someone outside of her religion and culture and she wanted to marry him. Some of her extended family—who were quite religious—were against the union and said they would not come to the wedding if she decides to go through with it. 

No doubt my friend was torn between the family she knew since birth and the man she loved. 

After a tumultuous time, she decided to trust herself and follow her heart. She decided she would marry him and the chips could fall where they may. 

Long story short, some extended family came, and some didn’t. In the end, she was okay with that. 

10) You’re putting your life on hold 

Many people put their lives on hold because they feel it isn’t the “right” time to do something. This is a form of not being yourself in that they’re denying a part of themselves. 

This could show up in the form of wanting to date but refusing to do so until you lose 20 pounds and “look good.”

Or it might mean waiting five years to travel because by then they think they’ll be a heck of a lot more comfortable financially. Many people even put off vacations until they retire because then they’ll “have the time” to do all the things they truly want to do.

Be yourself now because life is in the now. It’s not a year from now when you drop 20 pounds and it most certainly isn’t 30 years from now when you retire. 

Tap into what you want, make moves toward it, and it will fall into place sooner than you think. 

So who are you really, and what are you going to do about it?

Allowing the world or whatever circumstances you’re in to determine who you are, and what you should do may seem like the easy route but it is a much harder life to live. 

Not only will you be unfulfilled and harbor resentment, you’ll always wonder what could have been. 

Allow yourself to reveal yourself to you. You’ll love the journey of getting to know this person…who is in fact, who you always were all along. 

Wendy Kaur

Wendy Kaur

Wendy Kaur is a Toronto-based journalist whose work has been published by The Globe & Mail, ELLE USA, ELLE Canada, British Vogue, Town & Country, and others.

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