Is your real self in prison?

Photo by Julia Craice on Unsplash

I bet you know the feeling: You want to say something, but you are not sure what the reaction will be, especially when your recipients are people you (for whatever reason) want to impress.

What if I say something stupid and this person will never take me seriously again? What if they think I’m weird? What if I come across as too aggressive?

It feels like we are always walking on the edge. And it feels scary, unstable and restrictive.

A lot seems to be at stake.

The impact is that we present only a censored version of ourselves – a “universally acceptable” version without any edges, always prepared to change her mind. Or we might opt to not present ourselves at all – it’s better safe than sorry!

As a result, our true self, the one with our values, experience and opinions, only lives a secret, invisible life inside of us. It takes over the role of an observer and quite a powerless one: If no one else is speaking up, maybe I’m misinterpreting this seemingly unjust situation! And everyone remains quiet and let things just happen.

Let me share something with you: As a professional coach, I’m witnessing almost each of my clients facing this dilemma. They are all unique, complex personalities (just like everyone is), but they only allow a part of who they are to show up in the world. Everyone does that to a certain degree. 

Most of us are living a public life, being afraid that the real self might be unacceptable, or, using my clients’ typical vocabulary: too much.

We believe that we know what other people expect from us. Over our lifetime, we become very good at performing that expected role based on our projection of other people’s expectations.

As a result, there are millions of inner selves living together in the world, but apart, invisible to each other. What we can see with our eyes are millions of vanilla selves chit chatting on safe topics, expressing predictable reactions and using the same vocabulary. 

Do you sometimes think that getting to know someone new feels like a chore or a job interview? I do.

But not with my clients, because they bring their real self to coaching, not the “public” one.

And you know what? The real self is always beautiful and extremely interesting. It is never dull to listen to the real person speaking. Why? Because subconsciously, we all know when we are performing and when others perform. And it exhausts us all. And every time we speak our truth, people can feel it. Our truth can be very simple, but because it is authentic and real, it touches others

And that’s why no one gets offended when you say you are too drained to meet them today and would prefer to meet another day, when you can be fully present for them, rather than making up an excuse about a headache in order to “ not hurt their feelings”.

People always know when you are real, and if you let your real self come alive in the real world, you might realize that some people will indeed no longer be interested in you. But those who will be interested in the real you, just as you are – will make all the difference.

I’m dreaming of a world where everyone dares to show up as they are and create a space for real connection. This way, we would genuinely communicate, learn from each other and disrupt the world that encourages us to stay quiet and “safe” in our little prisons.

It takes courage to be yourself. It’s one of the most radical things you can do. But what you get in return is real and undeniable.

Are you ready to receive it?

If you enjoyed reading this article, feel free to check out this one: The value of our values

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