Have you ever had that moment where you’ve looked at yourself in the mirror and instead of seeing the radiant being that you wish you could be staring back at you, you see a woman who looks and feels exhausted?
What if you could change your life in one powerful step so that when you look in that mirror six months from now you see more of the woman you want to see?
If you’re screaming ‘hell yes Kathryn!’ at your screen right now and Bob from I.T. is looking at you like you’ve lost your marbles then read on!
So many of us are spending decades of our lives spinning our wheels, trying to be who we think the world wants us to be – sound familiar?
We twist and contort ourselves like a pretzel into a variety of different shapes and forms so that we can keep those around us happy and then we wonder why we’re always feeling burnout and depleted when in actual fact there is a fairly simple answer.
It is hard work being someone else!
Stop being who you think the world wants you to be and start being yourself. That’s the answer.
Do you know the Gloria Steinman quote? The one about how the truth will set you free but first it will piss you off? I’m imagining that might be how you’re feeling right about now!
How Can Something That Sounds So Easy Be So Hard?
It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Just be yourself.
Of course, if it really were that easy then we’d all be doing but we’re not.
Why do we find it SO. DAMN. DIFFICULT?
I don’t know about you but I think societal conditioning has a lot to answer for!
When I was young society taught me that if I was good, if I was helpful, if I didn’t rock the boat, if I only said what I thought people wanted to hear, if I kept them smiling and laughing then people would love me and I’d never disappoint them.
So that’s what I tried to do. I unconsciously shaped myself into a particular type of person, you know the kind – nice, un-offensive, sort of blends in with the wallpaper, that was me.
We do this a lot when we’re children and young adults – we try out different roles in different settings to find the ones that garner us praise, validation, and acceptance.
If there are parts of the ‘real us’ that people don’t like then we quickly learn to dampen those down.
Being ourselves is the easiest and most natural thing in the world – what’s hard is the actual process of getting to the point where we are willing to be the woman we are without fear of what others might think.
The Big F
How can such a teeny tiny four-letter word wreck such havoc in our lives?
Ahh yes, fear, our most faithful of friends.
If our life’s a car, then fear is the one who’s driving.
We’re not even riding shotgun, we’re somewhere in the back with our seatbelt tightly fastened, slouched down low in our seat hoping that nobody will see us and that our fear will steer us clear of all possible danger.
Not exactly the most empowering place to be huh? No, and yet that’s exactly how so many of us spend our lives – slouched down in our seat hoping that nobody will see the real us.
I think a lot of us live like this although I don’t think we’re always conscious of it at the time. I know I wasn’t. I didn’t make deliberate choices to be someone else, it just sort of……happened.
It was something I fell into and then forgot to fall out of. My younger self had no idea what the ramifications would be for my older self years later, if she had of she might have done things differently.
When Your True Self Comes Knocking
It’s entirely possible to go through your entire life never truly allowing yourself to be seen.
Many people do but I wouldn’t recommend it because the price is simply too high.
The price of living as someone else, of trying to keep the peace and keep everyone else happy, is our own peace and happiness. I don’t claim to know much for sure but that truth is one I would stake my life on.
The cost of doing the pretzel dance throughout our lives is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual burn-out.
There is no escaping this.
When we hide who we are, when we try to be who everyone else wants us to be and do everything everyone else wants us to do, we suffer.
The reason we look in the mirror and see a drained and exhausted looking woman staring back at us is that that’s the only way she can think of to try and knock some sense into us.
She makes us tired.
She takes the sparkle out of our eyes.
She gives us a headache or a stomachache or any other number of aches and pain because those are the only ways she can think of to get us to wake up to what’s going on.
The connection between our minds and our bodies is strong.
If we’re experiencing a lot of health issues that don’t seem to have any cause then there’s a pretty good chance our body is using symptoms to try and tell us something important.
Change Your Life In One Powerful Step
If being who you are currently feels like a lot of hard work that leaves you constantly exhausted and rundown then guess what?
You’re probably living out of alignment with who you’re meant to be.
The good news is that you can completely change your story and you can change it now, without needing permission from anyone – although if you’re a reforming people pleaser like I am and can feel yourself going into a mild state of anxiety at the mere thought of doing something without the approval of others then consider this your permission granted!
So how do you do it?
How do you change your life in one powerful step by being yourself?
I’m like a kid on a bike with my training wheels still on when it comes to all of this, wobbling about all over the place, but here are a few things that are helping me that I hope might help you too.
- Figure out what it is that makes you, you. Break it down. What are your likes and dislikes? What are your values and beliefs? How do you like to spend your time? What energizes you and lights you up inside? What traits and characteristics do you hold in high esteem in others? What types of people do you want to surround yourself with? What are your dreams, goals, and aspirations? What vision do you hold for your life?
- Once you’ve figured out some of the answers to the above start taking small steps and put the new you into practice. Next time you’re around others when you open your mouth try speaking your own words. Take a moment to think about what others are saying and how you feel about it. Don’t just rush in and agree, really think about whether or not you agree and if not, then give the world the gift of allowing your real thoughts to be heard.
- Realise the world doesn’t revolve around you! Do you know that I’ve spent my entire life worrying about what other people thought of me or whether or not I’d upset them, only to finally realise that people probably have a lot more important things to be thinking about than what I’ve just said?! 99% of the time people are far too preoccupied with their own stuff to be worrying about you. Case in point – I tried this out at work the other day and spoke my mind at a meeting. Afterward, I was thinking to myself ‘oh my god Kathryn, you sounded so bolshy in there’ I checked my thinking out with a colleague who told me that I needed to work a lot harder if ‘bolshy’ was a word I wanted to be attached to myself! Our perceptions of ourselves are often highly skewed – usually in favour of the negative.
- If you want to read more about being yourself then I highly recommend Dr Ilene S. Cohen’s book ‘When It’s Never About You: The People-Pleaser’s Guide to Reclaiming Your Health, Happiness, and Personal Freedom’ and Dr Aziz Gazipura’s book ‘Not Nice: Stop People Pleasing, Staying Silent, & Feeling Guilty…And Start Speaking Up, Saying No, Asking Boldly, & Unapologetically Being Yourself’.
The world doesn’t need more sheep, it doesn’t need more sameness, and it doesn’t need more robots and people who are wandering through life feeling burnout and exhausted, existing rather than living.
The world doesn’t need more carbon copies, the world needs YOU.
Your uniqueness, your talents, your gifts, your strengths.
The world needs your light so don’t leave it hiding under a bushel.
When you wander around the supermarket you don’t see pineapples trying desperately to be apples and chickpeas wishing they were a block of 85% dark chocolate so why are we so hell-bent on trying to force ourselves into packaging that was never designed for us?
As women, it is time we rise up and inhabit the full force of who we were born to be.
It’s time to say screw it to uniformity and conformity and a massive YES to uniqueness and individuality.
Change your life in one powerful step – be your beautiful, perfectly imperfect self.