8 Key Ways to Stay True To Yourself
From my understanding, being authentic is about allowing yourself to sink into the strength of your vulnerability – who you are in all the rooms and corners of your inner most self.
Being vulnerable and open is a strength although many people believe that vulnerability and openness are a weakness.
For those of you who have experienced maltreatment, neglect and emotional disconnection with those you loved when you were growing up, being open and connecting internally to your own vulnerability as an adult can feel very threatening and scary.
The Early Years
I grew up with people who distorted my perception of reality almost all of the time and so life and people, in general, felt dangerous to me. I learned to put my own needs aside so I could be attentive to others and this is how I learned to stay safe. However, later on, in my early adult years, I fell into many broken and unhealthy relationships due to the fact that I didn’t know how to open to my deeper needs and therefore didn’t stay true to myself.
I had to learn first about my own energy, what my needs were and what I wanted and it took time to learn how to internally connect to myself so I could also feel into others’ energy and understand the signals they were giving me, so I knew how to take care of myself.
I wanted to be a truly caring and generous person and yet, I decided I no longer wanted to give myself up in order to ‘get’ something from others. I had to be willing to let go and risk being shut out of other people’s world.
At times I have had to turn my back and walk away from people that I felt had an energy that was hurtful and abusive in some way. It hasn’t always been easy, but I am still learning how to take better care of myself.
Learning how to set loving boundaries first and foremost
Many of my clients today are learning how to set the internal boundaries they need to stay in balance and go for the life they truly want. They too have struggled with putting others’ needs before their own and then suffering the consequences.
For those who are highly sensitive people, which are most of my clients, they have learned to become caretakers – looking after others and then feeling guilty for taking the space, or the rest, or doing what they need to do for themselves. And yet, when they do their inner work, they learn to show up for themselves even in the face of fear.
What I have found with my clients is that at the bottom layer of this dynamic of not standing up for their needs is the very real fear, the very primitive human fear of having the people they love react in an angry way, disconnect from and at worst, leave them.
Do you censor yourself and who you are to keep the peace or try to keep connection with others?
It is so human to detract in the face of fear isn’t it? And yet, most of the time there is NO tiger running after us. Yet, the fear of others disconnecting from us or leaving us because we are finally tuning into our own needs can sure feel like a life and death situation, the tiger at our heels.
Many of us have given in to losing ourselves in order to keep the situation or person that we were afraid of losing, but at what price? How do you feel when you lose yourself, give yourself up or censor yourself in order to please or try to avoid another person’s negative reactions towards you?
Being true to yourself no matter what!
It takes trusting yourself and some courage to want to look within and get to know all parts of yourself with loving acceptance. A question for you: Can you look into who you are for who you really are and not what other people have projected onto you about who you are?
Some of us have never yet come to know our own essential goodness, our inner light, our truth or our immense capabilities because they were stifled and repressed in order to hold onto something or someone we loved.
Wendy was struggling with this within her marriage.
Wendy shared with me recently, “Between my husband and I, I am the one who does the administrative stuff for us and lately there have been things that I need to discuss with him but I feel like I just can’t because lately he’s been under pressure and so I do what I normally do when I become afraid, I push the fear down hoping I can speak to him tomorrow but tomorrow never comes.
For example, If I pick up that he’s in a lousy mood when he walks in from work in the evenings, I tend to not speak about that issue. The last one was money that I needed to pay out but I was afraid to mention it for fear that he’d blow up at me. We’ve recently had a huge amount of financial commitments to keep and it was beginning to drain our energy and we were starting to fight from the pressure”.
I asked Wendy how she was feeling when not being able to share with her husband that she was feeling afraid of his reactions about the financial situation they were having.
“Well first I feel fear and then I start to feel angry inside and then it turns into resentment and then I just burst out into anger because it’s so damn frustrating and of course we start fighting. I know that I could have avoided all of this if I just spoke to him in the first place”.
Wendy was learning that when she listened to her fear instead of the voice of her authentic self she felt repressed and frustrated.
The internal pressure from fear can sound like, “if I show up and be who I really am and express my needs and my voice others may not like me, they may turn away from me and not want to have anything to do with me.” And, that might be true. Not everyone is going to like everything about us and still, we need to take the risk to be who we are so that we can feel peacefully at home within ourselves and grow our self-trust and self-acceptance.
Here are 8 keys to make sure you stay true to you and honour your own needs:
- Connect to your feelings and your needs first and then mean what you say and follow through with it
- Do what is most important for you and for your inner values
- Be kind, caring and nurture at least one need you have each day for yourself
- Learn to feel ok with walking away when someone is being hurtful or overstepping one of your boundaries
- It is ok to say what you want and to stand up for yourself in a kind and gracious way
- Allow yourself to give up the illusion that you need everyone to like you
- Give up needing to censor your speech and behaviour in order to maintain a relationship or keep the peace
- And, never accept abuse from anyone
I really do my best to keep true to myself by following these guidelines that I have found through my own recovery process. What I have noticed is that the more I stay steady with putting them into practice, the more peaceful and easy life becomes for me.
May you also find the courage and determination to stay true to yourself!