This might seem like a strange question, but I have a hard time being myself. I’m a total chameleon, and I tend to act like whoever I’m with. This makes me really easy to get along with, but sometimes I don’t know who I really am. I also tend to not stand up for myself as much as I could, because I don’t know what my true needs are. And just in case you’re wondering, I’m not young. I’m in my fifties! Can you help me?
Searching for Self
Many people go through their entire lives and never realize how much they’ve been accommodating others. Or being who they think others want them to be.
So Congratulations to YOU! You’re more awake than most, to be asking this question at all!
One thing it sounds like you know is that it matters that you are your authentic self. It’s a priority for you. And being our authentic selves can be complicated. Especially if we’ve grown up not being celebrated for who we are. Being our true, quirky, wacky selves is sometimes seen as not okay. Not enough or too much. As a result, many of us have to rediscover who we are underneath the tendency to people-please.
So, again, hats off to you for looking and exploring the question! If you continue to ask this question, moment by moment and situation and choice by situation, you will get to expressing your self, who you are.
Here are some things that might support your process:
1) I know some people have been powerfully supported in this process by a 12-step organization called Co-Dependents Anonymous. (HERE is a link to their website, in case this pulls your attention.)
The meetings and connections you find there will help to support you in developing healthier relationships with yourself and others. And if this doesn’t call to you, there are many awesome books available on the subject! Anything like this helps because,
2) Learning to say “No” to what is not yours to do is a huge part of getting to those things that are a “Yes.” Your “Yes”s create your life, and you! But saying “Yes” when something actually feels like a “No” keeps you from your better life.
For example, agreeing to help with something that sounds like drudgery means you might be busy so that another person may not ask you to do something that would be a blast! Cuz you’re too busy.
3) Remember that some aspects of who you are will be different when with different people. This is healthy. You won’t share the same level of intimacy, for instance, with someone you don’t care for, or want to “go deeper with,” as you would with someone you have a deep level of trust with. So make sure you’re being kind to yourself as you navigate this process.
4) The main practice I would take on in regards to this is to “check in” more often. Make it a habit to self-reflect, even in the midst of conversations. Notice when you say something that doesn’t feel true for you, and then correct yourself. Loving yourself all along the way, of course. Give yourself permission to slip off to the restroom if you’re in a public place and you find yourself “feeling off.” Take moments throughout your day to ask yourself how you’re doing.
5) Meditation is always helpful. Heck. Meditation is helpful for just about anything. But especially for those of us in the process of shifting our relationship to the self! Meditation can give us access to an observational stance, an ability to see ourselves being who we are (or aren’t, if we’re not being authentic).
6) And, of course, journaling about your natural self is always good. Writing about what you like and don’t like can support the clarifying process of discovering who you are. And writing at the end of each day about what you did that was courageously or more fully you, as well as about where you feel you missed the mark and what you could do next time, can also be helpful!
Most of all, allow yourself to enjoy the process as much as possible. It sounds like you’re opening a new door to life! Allow yourself to feel the adventurous spirit of what you’re doing. And celebrate every little victory!
May the you you’re becoming be more awesome than you’d ever dreamed!
Blessings and Love to you in all you do!
What is your experience with people pleasing? Share your comments below!
Have a question for Meli? Interested in a private session (in person or Skype)? Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org