There are many things we do—as living, breathing, imperfect human beings—which prevent us from living authentically, and becoming our truest selves.
Becoming aware of these behaviors is the key to changing the way we live, how we feel about ourselves, and our ability to grow.
It’s important to really look at what will bring our bountiful potential to fruition— to essentially create a happier, well-lived life—a life worth all the blood, sweat and tears we invest in it.
What do we do to sabotage our own personal growth? When we become cognizant of the following harmful things that keep us away from our truest selves, we can begin to peel them away one by one.
Most of us have experienced jealousy, and we tend to know our triggers. Maybe a close friend received yet another promotion, or our younger boss just bought a gorgeous house on the water. Jealousy comes from our deep-rooted fears and insecurities, and appears when we feel like we are not enough or we don’t have enough to be happy.
The onslaught of social media posts of others living seemingly perfect lives doesn’t help matters. But rest assured, although all may appear ideal, chances are others are struggling with things we may know nothing about—because we all struggle with something. And while another person’s struggle shouldn’t make us feel better about our lives, it can shed a bit of perspective on it.
When we focus on actively bettering our own lives, we keep jealousy at bay.
There is a disease that is growing rapidly across the world. It’s called denial. It’s the enemy of truth, and it’s ruining lives. Denial thrives when we avoid facing the truth.
For example, perhaps we know we are over-weight, but we keep telling ourselves that we don’t eat that much, and we exercise enough, and that our weight problem is just too difficult to figure out. Mostly likely, the truth is we do know why we are over-weight, but we are unwilling to own it, so we make excuses. It’s easier play dumb or act like we don’t care which creates little crutches for ourselves to lean on.
The actual truth is always a difficult thing to face, but when we own our baggage and our excuses, our real self will emerge.
3. Faking it.
“Fake it until you make it” sounds better than it actually is. Faking anything does no one any favors. If you continue to fake your orgasm, for example, you will never have an orgasm. It’s that simple.
Faking being yourself will lead you down a tear-soaked trail of unhappiness. “Faking it” keeps us from fulfillment. We tell little lies to ourselves and others in order to cope with our fears. Maybe we are afraid that if we are simply ourselves, we will end up being alone, or that no one will like us. Hiding who we are, or how we truly feel essentially starves our souls. It adds thick layers to the shroud that surrounds us—obscuring our real selves from the world—so it’s important to come clean.
Once we begin to face our fears and live our truth, our authentic self begins to grow.
4. Our Inner Bullies.
We all know him (or her). They live inside our heads and boss us around—telling us what to do, how to think and act—even what to feel. They say, “can’t” and “don’t” a lot. They’re a**holes.
We need to stop listening to our inner bullies. We can start by learning to tune them out. Our inner bullies are often bigger and more powerful than our true inner selves, but we can keep them from winning by consciously fighting back.
5. Lack Of Passion.
Living day in and day out with no interests, hobbies, or anything that really moves us makes for a stress free, but super-boring life. We must go out and find what it is that really floats our boat.
If we think back to when we were children, we may rediscover what we loved to do. Did we love riding our bike? Did we love camping or painting? Did we love animals? We must make a point of going back to what is was that promoted the happiness of our inner child. Being an adult isn’t all about work.
Having passion can also mean speaking up, and taking action toward righting the wrongs in our society. It’s about making our voices heard and being present enough to change circumstances. When we let our passion guide us, life becomes more exciting, which then creates ample space for growth, even if we rock the boat a little.
6. All Our Sh*tty Stuff.
Crap everywhere. Magazine stacks. Too many dishes. All our stored stuff. Why do we do this to ourselves? We can’t seem to give it up, or give it away. Somehow we attach meaning to all our sh*tty stuff—stuff that serves no purpose!
The cycle begins when we buy things we don’t need. Because of our monetary investment, we feel we must keep it—and store it—and let it collect dust. Then we ignore it for years. When someone finally wants to throw it away, or give it away, we whine and complain and can’t possibly part with it, because it means so much to us. It’s hilarious really.
7. Being Indecisive.
“What do you want to do?” “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” “I don’t know.”
Chronic indecisiveness is indeed the plight of many. Is it because we have way too many choices? Why are we so afraid to make the wrong decision? We need to do what makes us happy, work in a positive environment, be around people we like, and visit places that interest us.
We all know what we want, but we seem to need to question and hesitate and weigh up all the pros and cons before we can make a damn decision. We seek far too many opinions and suggestions before we can decide for ourselves. How does that bring us closer to our true self? It doesn’t.
8. The Past.
Living in the past is a burden. We pine for the “way things were” and struggle when things aren’t done the “way they used to be done.” We need to get over whatever it is that keeps us yearning for years gone by. The past is gone.
Do we pine for our youth? If we do, perhaps we can try thinking about it this way: all those bearded young people wearing pork pie hats, cuffed jeans, and horn-rimmed glasses—drinking Moscow Mules on the sidewalks of Brooklyn—it’s their turn to be young. We had our turn, now we need to let them have theirs.
We need to stop wishing for what once was by cultivating simple contentment in the present—the place where our true self resides.
9. Caring About What Other People Think.
It’s difficult not to care about what others think of us. But, sometimes we let their opinions dictate how we are supposed to be. Enough.
It’s wonderful to seek advice and ask for opinions, but deep down, we need to follow our own inner compass. We can’t let Jack’s fear of heights keep us from climbing. We can’t let Jill’s fear of showing her midriff keep us from wearing the sexy gown with the cut-outs. That’s their sh*t, not ours.
10. Self-Destructive Habits.
Letting go of our destructive habits might just be the most relevant and lasting thing we can do to bring us closer to our true selves.
When substances and behaviors cloud our judgement there’s no possible way to claim who we really are. If our habit is to cling to people— to please others and put everyone’s needs before our own—we can’t possibly know what it is we actually want for ourselves.
For clarity and purpose, we must do the work to free ourselves from those habits and learn to live without them.
When we inch closer to our true selves, we find the happiness we seek. When we are happy, we exude our simple, peaceful, and positive energy back into the world, our families—in all the stuff we do, people we meet, and places we go.
Becoming our true selves creates mutual respect, admiration, honesty, and love within our lives.
By continuing to remove the garbage from the soil in which we have been planted, we promote an ideal environment for personal growth.
Unearthing our truest self is indeed, the most phenomenal prize of being human. It’s definitely worth the difficult and daunting task of continued excavation.
Writer: Kimberly Valzania
Apprentice Editor: Roseann Pascale; Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: Victoria Henderson/ Flickr