“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” ~ Dr. Seuss
I have worked with many clients who realize somewhere in mid-life that they are afraid to express their true feelings or opinions because they fear the reactions of others. They worry that a spouse may get angry, a family member may withdraw, a friend may feel differently about them, or that colleagues may judge them.
They end up trying to be the person others will find acceptable, rather than being their true selves. What happens over time is that they become alienated from themselves. They may feel somewhat detached from others, may hold resentments, or even become depressed.
The natural, healthy course for humans is to grow and evolve over time. We change: our ideas, thoughts and feelings change. If we feel we have to stay the same-the person others expect us to be, we end up having to shut down parts of ourselves. There may be no place for our truest self in our lives.
If we have relationships where it is safe to explore our thoughts and feelings and to express ourselves without being judged, that is an environment that encourages our growth. It allows us to establish healthy self-esteem and to feel valued and accepted.
So what are we to do if we do not have those kinds of relationships, but instead feel we have to tiptoe around others so as not to rock their boats? I think we have to be true to ourselves. If we live a life playing roles that others expect of us, we are not honoring our uniqueness and are wasting the opportunity life gives us to experience all of who we are.
We have to take the risk and begin to speak our truth, being honest about what we think and feel. This can be done in a gentle, kind way. We can tell others that we do not want to be criticized or judged for being who we are.
Those who honor and accept the real you deserve to have an important place in your life. Those who reject you or make it difficult for you to be yourself are not healthy for you. In fact, they can be toxic. In life, you should not have to struggle just to be yourself.
This path certainly may not be easy, and you may have to release some people from your life or see a lot less of them. What is required here is that you begin to value your own truth, individuality and integrity more than you value the opinions of others. Yes, it is okay to do that!
So if you are trapped in a web of expectations of others, it is time to set yourself free.
Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.
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Your Authentic Self
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Thinking for Yourself: Empowerment for Youth
Trusting and Following Your Intuition
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