Self-Love is the Key to Being Your True Self
Is the “self” you present to the world your true self, or is it a persona you adopt because you think if people knew the real you, they would not like you as much? Perhaps you feel insecure when you are around certain people, e.g. those in a higher financial bracket than you, or smarter than you, or more fashionable than you. It doesn’t really matter who it is or whatever it is about them that makes you perceive that they are somehow better than you, the bottom line is that on some level you believe that you are not good enough. The solution is not to try to be someone you are not…it is to realize that you are perfect just as you are.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Fitting in is Highly Overrated
There is so much pressure to “fit in” nowadays and we all want to be accepted, but at what cost? People are so afraid of being perceived as different that they allow others to dictate how they should think and behave. If we have an opinion that conflicts with that of the “group” (work, religious, ethnic, etc.) we keep it to ourselves because in order to be accepted by the group, you must conform to their ideology. They are not interested in your opinion, their only concern is that you uphold theirs. So we go along with whatever is presented to us, allowing our own unique ideas to be swallowed by our fear of being rejected.
This same fear of rejection can also lead to approval-seeking from those close to us. We sometimes find ourselves feeling pressured to keep up with those in our social circle so that we blend in with them. This can influence the neighborhood we live in, the car we drive, and the clothes we wear. All must be of the same caliber as the crowd we hobnob with or we feel like an outsider. Similarly, with family members, especially parents, there can be pressure to conform to ideals that are not ours. There are children who strive their entire lives to make their parents proud of them. This might mean going into a profession that does not suit them while secretly longing to pursue their dream job, or marrying the mate who gets their parents’ approval while being in love with someone else.
Not being yourself is conforming to someone else’s vision of who you should be. Maybe they will like you better as this pseudo-person, and that makes you feel good about yourself for a while, but the pseudo-person is not you. So if you think about it, they don’t really like you at all, not the real you anyway. They only like the “pretend” you.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~ Buddha
The root of the problem is that you are looking for validation outside of yourself. You believe you are deficient on some level so you need someone else to acknowledge you, or compliment you, or invite you to the party, or whatever it is that lets you know you are worthy. This is a dangerous game because it is not sustainable. For one thing, you are at the mercy of the person or persons doing the validating. If at some point they do not give you the approval you are seeking, you don’t feel so good. All of your insecurities return and you need to find a new source of validation. For another thing, it is very difficult to maintain a persona that is not reflective of who you are. You cannot run away from yourself; the real you will always be hanging around in the background and deep down inside you will feel like a phony. Now you have one more thing to be insecure about.
Self-Love is the Answer
The only sustainable solution is to cultivate a sense of self-love within yourself. You have to believe you are good….no, perfect….just as you are. And if being your true self means ruffling some feathers or losing a relationship or two, then so be it. If the people you are trying to please cannot appreciate you as you are, then maybe you do not need them in your life. There are enough people in this world for you to find those that will accept you and love you for your crazy, wonderful, unique qualities. And as you learn to love yourself more, these people will automatically be attracted to you.
We all want to feel accepted and loved by others, but that cannot supersede self-acceptance and self-love. When you look to someone else for validation, you have to dance to their tune. When you validate yourself, you listen to the music that is playing inside of you and dance to your own tune. If you cultivate self-love within yourself, you will have your own personal support system that is available 24/7 and will never fail you in your time of need.
If there are things about yourself that can be improved, improve them. Work on yourself until you are the best possible version of you. But never let anyone try to change you. Live every day of your life fully and authentically. And above all else, love yourself.