It can come from the way we were parented. Sometimes our parents, for various reasons, were unable to provide us with the consistent love, acceptance and trust we needed. Instead we were left to try to win their love by being ‘good’, ‘quiet’, ‘smart’, etcetera.
It can also be that our parents themselves modelled this way of being to us. They had one personality at home, and another depending on the company they were in.
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How Can I Be Myself Around Others?
1.Work to learn how you think and feel.
Half the reason most of us can’t be ourselves around others is that deep down we are not really sure who we really are. We’ve spent too much of our life shifting ourselves to match what others want.
Commit to getting to know yourself. Journalling is a great place to start. It can help you identify your personal values, the things you deeply care about.
Asking good questions is another great tool. Make a list of all the things you spend your time time doing. Do you really like these things? Or are you just doing them as you learned you ‘should’ like them? What new things would you like to try instead?
Most of the time, when we are acting in ways that are not who we really are, it’s because we’ve made assumptions about the other person.
We assume they are smarter than us, more interesting, better. We assume we must change ourselves to gain their approval.
What if they are as insecure as you? Have their own problems, beneath their seeming confidence? Would you try so hard to be interesting then?
And what if by being yourself it would be a huge relief for him or her, as they would then feel more free to be themselves, too?
4. Recognise that you are enough.
At the root of the low self-esteem that sees us unable to relax and be ourselves is the idea that somehow we are not enough. We are not smart enough, interesting enough, pretty enough, or fun enough to be liked as we are.
What if you were? Keep asking yourself that question. What if you are enough just as you are?
Self-compassion is another way to raise your self-esteem. Each time you hear your thoughts criticising or putting you down, ask yourself, would I speak to a friend like that? What if I treated myself the way I would treat a best friend?
When we make our first efforts to fully be ourselves around other people it can feel scary. They might not always react they way we hope for. Perhaps they are used to us being pleasing and doing what they want. We might lose some friends, even.
Just keep reminding yourself what you are gaining by being yourself.
They more you are your real self, the more you are making yourself attractive to people you actually have real things in common with, who will actually enjoy your company. The more you hang around with people who actually like the real you, the less energy you waste ‘acting’ or panicking. You will feel less stressed, and your self-worth will ratchet.
7. Seek support.
If you really struggle to be yourself, and want to solve this problem faster, then it’s a very good idea to seek some support. A counsellor or psychotherapist can provide a safe, confidential environment to identify why you can’t relax around other people. Together you can try out new ways of relating, and you will be supported in then taking these new ways of being and behaving into your relationships and social life.
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Have a question about how to be yourself around others? Want to share your experience or have a tip? Use the comment box below.