Don’t let others define who you are.

I remember hearing when I was very young people telling me to be myself. However, they didn’t define what this meant, and I was too young to consider asking them to explain what they meant. Since I realized that hearing this statement seemed to be a reoccurring one, at some point, I believe I internalized and came up with my own definition of what this meant.

For context, my family includes a number of creative people. Even and inventor. By observing various family members, and appreciating the talents they had, and how they appeared to be comfortable with them, they were appreciably strong role models. Seeing them embrace what they were good at, even if others didn’t fully understand what they were doing.

One of my earliest memories of applying the concept of authentically being myself was when I was old enough to pick out my own clothes to wear. This seems simple enough, yet what I was surprised by was the reaction I got from people when I first started doing this. The reason I was surprised, had to do with the fact I was putting colors and patterns together that were not traditionally combined. At least at that point in time. I saw no issue in doing this, and in fact, I enjoyed both the challenge and fun it was to do this. I realize now that I was intrigued by other people thinking that what I was doing was different.

When I became aware that doing something different than what others were doing was ok to do, is when I began to embrace and develop a confidence in myself that had not been there before. I was too young to have any appreciable hobbies at that time, but I intuitively realized what I was doing was something I could build upon. I would draw an analogy to this of developing an early foundation of defining who I would evolve into as a person.

Upon being retrospective on this topic, I realize that I could have gone in a completely different direction in terms of having others define who I am, or would become. I also realized that I had an early awareness of the fact I was fully in charge of how I could and wanted to define myself as an individual. More importantly, not to let others do this in any way. This thinking has served me extraordinarily well, as it has allowed me to authentically be myself in both personal and professional scenarios. More importantly without having to craft different personas. Something which I have observed many others doing.

Speaking of different personas, one of my observations about why some people struggle with not being able to embrace who they are, is because they give too much value to what others have to say or think about them. A good question to ask yourself or someone who might find themselves in this situation, is to have them explain why they do this. It’s possible they are not aware of the fact they have let others define who they are, or should be, as it can actually be easier in some ways to do this. Why? Because you don’t have to commit to figuring out who you truly are. Or, you can simply take on the characteristics or qualities others who have influenced your thinking, that you should act a certain way. From my perspective, this sounds exhausting, yet surprisingly, many people are unaware of the fact they have done this.

So, if you aspire to be authentically who you are, what are some techniques you can apply to do this? I’m anticipating you might want to know this, and I’ve got some suggestions for you below.

  • If you don’t believe you are authentically yourself, who do you want to be?
  • If you were to “design” or “architect” exactly who you think you want to be, what would be the characteristic elements involved with crafting this person include?
  • Consider your base personality, and the essence of at your core who you are. Are you truly leveraging it to the fullest? Or, would you say there are reasons you are not doing so based on the influence of others?
  • Are there people or circumstances in your life which are contributing to not allowing you to be who you truly are, or aspire to be?
  • What or who can help you to change your circumstances that are preventing you from allowing you to define who you want to be? There are always multiple options and solutions, so don’t allow excuses of not having options or people to help you to stand in the way.
  • What it is going to take to allow you to believe you deserve to authentically be who you are? Let’s start with looking in the mirror, as chances are it’s you who are holding yourself hostage to this type of preventative thinking.
  • Factor in how different and more enjoyable your life will be when you stop allowing others to define who you are, and you finally embrace your authenticity. Seriously, this can happen, even if it is in incremental steps and takes longer than you think it should.
  • Finally, imagine what it will feel like when you can truly be who you are…every single day, and in every single situation in your personal and professional life.

Individuality and expressing who you are shouldn’t be reserved for only some people, and conformity shouldn’t be the norm that everyone has to subscribe to. I love the statement of “just be yourself because everyone else is taken”. Let’s see what you can do, or if you can help someone else who isn’t authentically themselves yet. Taking on this challenge will be so worth it!

TAGS: #Confidence #Selfawareness #Selfaware #Authenticity #Personaldevelopment #Professionaldevelopment #Motivation #Helpingothers #Teamdynamics #Leadership #Business

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