Are You Giving Out the Wrong Signal?
Agreeing to attend an event, join a club, or organize a social function when none of those things interest you sends a conflicting message to others: You’re onboard with the activity, but you’re plagued with reluctance, or even regret. And now, a big part of you feels like you’ve betrayed yourself, because even though you knew it wasn’t the right decision, you said “yes” anyway.
Here are a few more examples. Have you ever accepted a job that wasn’t right for you? Perhaps you were able to convince the interviewer—and yourself—that you were a perfect fit, and you ended up with the position. But after spending a few days on the job, meeting your peers, and trying to blend in, the truth becomes obvious—you’ve made a bad decision. The worst part is realizing you have to end the misery by stepping up and quitting. And then you need to start all over again, hoping the next time you’ll find something that works out better.
This happens in relationships, too. I’ve met a few people who pursued a new, yet completely wrong partner. Determined to believe they’re right for each other, these desperate dreamers hold onto the idea they can change the other person into their soulmate—typically a recipe for disappointment and failure.
Why is it so hard to be our authentic selves? Perhaps it’s because our culture encourages us to fit in and conform to the system. We tell ourselves it’s the right thing to do. Conceding to the needs of others is often necessary to maintain our relationships with friends and family. But there’s a downside. The process often leaves us unhappy, conflicted, and confused – and eventually undermines our sense of identity.
It comes down to this: Are you willing to trade your truth for another’s vision?
If you’re ready to live a more genuine life, to authentically give your time, attention, and focus to the experiences you choose to participate in, it’s time to make better choices. Here are a few tips to stay true to yourself:
- Acknowledge your truth–what you believe, your values and dreams, and how you choose to live. Write them down and adjust or modify your thoughts as you continue to define yourself. You may want to record your “personal mantra” so you can play it back when you’re facing a decision that doesn’t feel right. If hearing your verbal truth doesn’t match your physical or emotional state, it’s a red flag.
- Let your actions reflect your discipline. Eating a double order of cheesy bacon fries with your friends while talking about the new diet and exercise plan you started won’t convince anyone you’re committed to a healthier lifestyle.
- Learn to be confident in letting others know who you are. Granted, we can all benefit from a little social compromise. Being flexible increases rapport and motivates others to spend more time with you. However, if you’re not in agreement with what is being said or discussed, simply offer a neutral, “That’s interesting.” Even better, politely excuse yourself and move on. Many conversations are nothing more than a string of leading statements and weighted opinions, and you have no obligation to jump in, agree, or engage in the rhetoric.
We all want others to like us. It motivates us to put our best foot forward. But if it means participating in activities that aren’t right for you or sending out a false message of conformity to the changing whims and opinions of those who demand we agree with them, we’re only hurting ourselves in the long-term. Not only do we feel like we’ve compromised our values, we’ve also made it difficult for like-minded others to find us. Why? Because we’ve sent out the wrong message—a smokescreen that hides our true principles and beliefs.
Be the best version of yourself, the one that’s authentic and genuine. And then let the others—the ones who will appreciate the person you really are—find you.
Keep it healthy,
Pathway to Personal Growth