Being true to ourselves Written by Brendan Mooney Psychologist
Are you simply yourself around others or do you alter yourself in some way? Most of us tend to play a role when in the company of others, and strictly speaking we often are not our true selves in full. For example, we may attempt to show our best side to others but hide our imperfections, or we may hold back expressing how we truly feel and instead say something that won’t rock the boat. But why do we live this way and have we ever examined if this way of living actually works?
Do we live this way because we believe that if we were to be totally ourselves around others we would be rejected? It seems deep down we all want to be accepted for who we truly are, and yet we hold back sharing who we truly are to the world. If we are hiding who we are from people, it seems very unrealistic to demand others accept who we are, given we are not choosing this for ourselves.
And hence the irony…we want others to accept us for who we truly are and yet refuse to share who we are with them.
If we are putting out a false version of us, is it really realistic to expect others to embrace who we truly are?
Perhaps we can learn how to live true to ourselves in a world that often encourages the opposite, rather than sell out just to fit in.
How is it possible to know whether we are being true to ourselves? The key is to get to know who we truly are, so that if we change we will be able to identify it immediately. In other words, developing a relationship with our true selves as opposed to developing a facade or fake way of being merely to gain another’s recognition or acceptance in some way. This is a very difficult thing to do when many of our societal norms ask if not demand us to be untrue in some way.
Developing a relationship with our true self involves developing a quality of presence within ourselves, which allows us to be connected to our bodies throughout our day.
For example, do you often think about other things like what you will have for dinner whilst you are going for a walk? When we do this we are essentially doing two things at once, that is, walking and thinking about something else. This way of living robs us of quality of presence because we are not really connected to our bodies whilst we are walking. It is like we are operating on autopilot as our bodies are carrying out one function whilst we are thinking about something else.
We have no doubt had an experience whereby we think ‘did I make that cup of tea?’ - this is a classic example of when we have carried out an activity whilst thinking about something else, and then we cannot remember whether we did that activity or not later on. But how often do our minds become distracted like this every day?
Presence is about having your mind on what your body is doing, and not allowing your mind to wander off and think about unrelated things. It is simply a choice to connect to our movement.
For example, if we are walking we can feel our feet on the ground, our arms swinging, or the warmth in our hands. If our mind wanders, it is simply choosing to come back to feeling our body. When we live in this way it is easy to feel what is going on in our body, and we are less likely to make choices that are disregarding to our body. Bringing quality to our presence is then key – choosing to move gently brings a very supportive quality to our bodies. When this gentleness is deliberately chosen and becomes familiar to us then anything incongruent to this quality becomes obvious.
Establishing this quality also has a knock-on effect in our relationships – as we feel at ease and present in our own bodies there is a natural ease with others. Our movements and our gestures become more open, we feel genuinely confident and find that we can trust ourselves to express more naturally with those around us. This builds a level of openness and intimacy in our relationships that may not have been previously possible.
It is not often that we consider how our movements contribute to our psychological well-being, and hence this is an area worth further self-study.
More will be written in an upcoming series of articles on this topic. If you would like to read more be sure to subscribe to receive email updates.
BIOGRAPHY Psychologist Brendan Mooney works with adults, adolescents and children. With a genuine interest in people's well-being, Brendan brings a warmth, practicality and an equality that supports clients to truly address underlying issues and blockages that are preventing them from moving forward.