Let’s face it: pretending to be someone you’re not is one of the most disturbing experiences in the world.
And realizing that you’ve pretended to be someone else is arguably even more distressing.
But what do we do once we realize we’re not being honest with ourselves?
In reality, being true to yourself is simple. But it isn’t for the fainthearted. To be true to yourself, you need courage. And I’m going to show you how to access that very courage in this article.
Table of contents
29 Signs You’re Living a Complete Lie
At some point, almost every person in existence has stopped and stared blankly into space wondering “who the hell am I?”
Sometimes this inner emptiness is accompanied by the feelings of surreal dissociation and even the sense that “this isn’t my life.”
Others feel smothered by the weight of their social masks and responsibilities, resulting in states of chronic anxiety and insomnia. And still, for others, the feeling of living out a lie results in emotional numbness and even existential depression.
There are two ways we realize that we’re not being true to ourselves:
The first is a gradual realization, like day fading into night. The second is a sudden epiphany, like an avalanche consuming everything around us.
What did that realization feel like for you?
For me, the realization that I was living a complete lie dawned on me slowly, across the span of a year.
I felt increasingly confused, disoriented, anxious, depressed, and my mind spiraled into a profoundly dark place. Thankfully I managed to get out of that place (and I’ll share how I did that near the end of this article).
Ultimately, my decision to be true to myself resulted in burning bridges with my entire fundamentalist Christian family – but the leap into the unknown was completely and utterly worth it. I have never felt happier, more whole, or more fulfilled!
Think you might be living a lie? Here are some red flags to look out for:
- You feel trapped
- You feel unheard, unseen, and undervalued
- You feel alone
- Your smiles hide terrible pain
- You’ve tried to make your life “socially acceptable”
- You’re obsessed with pleasing others (i.e., overextending yourself, constantly gaining approval, etc.)
- You’re tired of putting on fake personalities
- You base your self-worth on how others perceive you
- You rarely feel true happiness anymore
- You frequently carry a feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach
- Like a martyr, you’ve sacrificed all of your dreams and desires
- You’ve forgotten what makes you feel joyful and fulfilled
- You escape your reality through addictions
- Life feels bleak and dreary
- You’re constantly exhausted and fatigued
- You have a feeling that you’re living in autopilot mode
- You feel like you’re about to “snap”
- You feel bored with life
- You carry a heart full of regrets
- You have trouble expressing your true self
- You keep daydreaming about what “could be”
- Your mind is obsessed with the past
- You’re surrounded by judgmental and unsupportive people
- You look at your life and feel like it’s “not yours” anymore
- You hide many secrets from others
- You struggle with self-loathing
- You’re scared to express your feelings and thoughts openly
- You keep self-sabotaging
- You feel like you don’t know who you are anymore
Stop and reflect on these signs. How many resonated with you?
The more signs you said an internal “yes” to, the more likely you’re living an inauthentic life. It’s time to be true to yourself!
But … Being True to Myself is Scary!
On some level, it’s terrifying to be seen.
Biologically, we’re programmed to follow the herd. In fact, our very survival as a species is based on conforming and being embraced by our fellow humans.
Get kicked out? Yep, looks like you’re gonna die! (We’re talking in a primal sense here.)
Just look at all of nature. If a mother abandons her young, the likelihood is death. If a nomadic group abandons one of their members, the chances are death. And this is not to mention the many instances of group rejection in the past (think: the witch trails, religious stoning, crucifixion, beheading).
So it’s no wonder you might feel scared, put off, or intimidated by the thought of being true to yourself. Quite literally, it equals death to the primitive part of the brain!
But thankfully, times are changing. We are changing as a species. And we live in an age where diversity is being increasingly celebrated.
My advice? Take care of your inner child – this is the part of you that holds the majority of your wounding. Your inner child is your most original and vulnerable self. S/he is a doorway to being authentic and feeling confident in doing so!
So remember to hold the hand of the little one inside of you. Your journey will be greatly amplified and empowered by doing this.
Read: Inner Child Work: 5 Ways to Heal Deep-Rooted Trauma »
Spiritual Awakening & Being True to Yourself
Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself.– Richard Bach
The question of “why?” remains.
Why be true to ourselves? What’s the point?
My response is that being true to yourself is not just an emotional or psychological need, but a spiritual one.
When we view our lives not just in a purely biological sense (e.g., eat, sleep, breed, and die) but also a metaphysical one, being true to ourselves is crucial.
Without being true to ourselves, we remain like mindless zombies following the crowd and neglecting our deepest essence. Something vital within us dies. We experience the tragedy of soul loss.
Therefore, being true to ourselves is a sacred act; an initiation into growth, self-transformation, and spiritual awakening.
It’s a practice of Ensoulment – of learning to embody our True Nature and fulfilling our personal destiny on this earth and in this lifetime.
11 Ways to Be True to Yourself
It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.– E. E. Cummings
Each and every one of us has a destiny, a true life path, and a deeply significant soul mission.
When we innocently listen to others and try to conform our lives to their expectations, we come out of alignment with our ultimate life purpose.
It’s not that we choose to deliberately walk the wrong path.
Instead, our fractured lives are the result of being unconsciously conditioned to live on autopilot.
We’re taught since childhood to listen to our “elders” and be obedient to society. But although fitting in helped us to learn the lesson we needed as children, pleasing others becomes an outdated pattern of living in adulthood.
As adults, we need to learn how to stand on our feet and make decisions that come from our heart and soul, rather than from what others (our parents, friends, lovers, or culture) tell us – this is true adulthood.
If you’re craving to connect with your soul and be true to yourself, here’s some guidance. And don’t worry, you can do these things even if you’re scared. Just go slowly and be gentle with yourself!
1. Forgive yourself
If you feel like you’re living a lie, forgive yourself. It’s OK! So many of us feel the same way. In fact, learning how to be true to yourself is all a part of the human experience.
When we come into this life we’re practically destined to live inauthentic lives. Why? We need to first discover who we’re not before being able to uncover who we truly are deep inside.
So don’t worry. There’s nothing “wrong” with you. You aren’t at fault. And you’re certainly not alone. All of us have experienced inauthenticity at some point.
2. Take responsibility for your happiness
To be true to yourself, you need to take self-responsibility for your life.
Often, we like to think that we’re responsible people. But our actions usually prove otherwise.
We depend on others for our total sense of wellbeing.
We keep blaming our “fate” and “bad luck.”
And we let others drag us by the short ‘n curlies, passively standing on the sidelines waiting for some hand-holding.
To be true to yourself, you need to step up and be proactive. Don’t be a passive bystander: take your life by the balls and reclaim the reigns!
No one is responsible for your life but you. No one is responsible for making you feel fulfilled but you!
The moment you step up to this challenge is the moment you start to feel empowered again.
3. Get out of your mind and into your heart
We need both the mind and heart to work in unison with each other, yet we are taught to worship the mind and trivialize the heart.
If your mind is constantly racing and full of thoughts, take a step back. Find some way to relax your mind so that you can listen to your heart again.
Remember that your heart is the doorway to your soul. Whatever your soul wants to communicate will be felt in your heart.
Some great ways to relax the mind include breathwork techniques (like pranayama), meditation, qigong, yoga, guided visualizations, and mindfulness exercises.
4. Identify unsupportive and toxic people
Yes, toxic people are simply acting out their wounds – BUT, we don’t need to bend over backwards to keep them around. We don’t have to put up with their bullshit.
Take a moment to think about the people you find draining, demoralizing, and plain old toxic. Then, remember the words of entrepreneur Jim Rohn
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
Now, I’m not sure I 100% believe that statement – but it does get you wondering how the people you spend the most time with influence you unconsciously.
So, what toxic people do you spend a lot of time around?
Is there any way you can distance yourself from them, reduce contact, or outright cut ties?
If a loved one is toxic/unsupportive, can you create an open and healing dialogue with them? (I recommend this book on non-violent communication to help you do that.)
To be true to yourself, you need to have loved ones or a network of people who accept you for who you are.
Yes, we’re always going to run into diabolical co-workers or snakey relatives. That’s life.
But if the majority of the people in your life right now don’t genuinely support you, it’s time to move on and focus on building new relationships with others.
That’s the hard reality. (But you can do it!)
5. Stop avoiding yourself
To be true to yourself, you need to rediscover who you are – aka. what your inner landscape looks like.
To do this, I recommend sitting down and exploring your thoughts and feelings in a journal. You can also express your feelings through art, movement, or some other form of creativity.
You don’t need to be a perfectionist: just allow yourself to reconnect with your inner self and what s/he thinks, feels, and believes in whatever way calls to you most.
Make sure you set a clear amount of time every day to do this or you might find ways of procrastinating or conveniently “forgetting.” A good rule of thumb is at least 10 minutes in the morning or afternoon.
6. Love yourself and stop trying to be “likable”
You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.― Sharon Salzberg
If you feel that being hated or disliked is one of the worst things that could happen to you, you’re likely a people-pleaser.
People-pleasers have a very frail sense of self as everything they do is centered around gaining approval and recognition from others (look into the topic of enmeshment for more background information).
To move past people-pleasing, you need to learn how to find self-worth within yourself, rather than from others.
When you love and accept yourself, you have no need to please others and pretend to be someone you’re not.
To love yourself, you need to show kindness, forgiveness, compassion, and genuine care towards yourself – both the ugly and the pretty parts.
Read: How to Love Yourself (Ultimate Beginner’s Guide) »
7. Learn how to say “no” and walk away
When we base our self-worth on the opinions of others, we tend to struggle with being assertive and drawing boundaries.
Saying “yes” to people and commitments when we want to say “no” is one of the most depleting and disempowering choices we can make.
There is nothing noble about self-sacrifice, especially when it’s fuelled by fear.
The more we sacrifice our needs in place of other’s desires, the more we become bitter.
Don’t let this anger build up.
Learn how to say a respectful and firm “no” in the kindest way possible. Negotiate if you must, but don’t allow people to walk over you.
If assertiveness is a big issue for you, read a book like “Where to Draw the Line” by Anne Katherine or attend a workshop to help you build this invaluable skill.
You can also read our article on how to create strong personal boundaries.
8. Connect with your feelings more
Do you have a habit of repressing your emotions?
If you feel a sense of inner numbness or disconnection from yourself/others, pay attention.
The more you bury your emotions, the more they fester within your unconscious mind and manifest as illnesses, nervous breakdowns, explosions of rage, and even mental illnesses.
To be true to yourself, you need to reconnect with your heart.
If you believe in the chakra energy system, you might like to explore heart chakra healing.
Otherwise, try some form of catharsis to cut through the wall of emotional numbness. Try screaming, shouting, crying, laughing, or anything that actively works with your body.
When your emotions start to come out, be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed at first, realizing that emotional expression is healthy and vital to your well-being.
9. Be honest with yourself
Tell the truth: are you really happy? Is this how you pictured your life?
Learning how to be true to yourself is all about honesty and transparency.
You might be able to deceive yourself for a little while, but eventually, the truth will come out, so you might as well be honest!
Even though truth can be hard, it’s like an elixir for your soul. As the proverb goes, “the truth shall set you free.”
Two practices I recommend for being honest with yourself are (1) mirror work, and (2) tarot or oracle card meditation.
Mirror work is the practice of using a mirror (e.g., in your house) for introspection. Simply gaze into the mirror and notice what arises within you. Journal about your discoveries. It sounds simple, but it’s a deep and intense practice! (Read more about mirror work.)
Secondly, oracle and tarot cards are gateways into the psyche. If you want a fresh perspective and a gentle way of calling yourself out, get yourself a deck. Use it every day. And meditate on the message on the card. (Read more about oracle and tarot cards.)
10. Dare to dream
Throw all social respectability out the window!
Beyond what every intrusive voice in your life has ever told you to do … what do YOU really want to do with your life?
What is calling to your heart?
What do you feel passionate about?
What secret dream have you had since childhood?
Even if you can’t answer any of these questions, experiment a little! Give yourself the permission to be unconventional and try new things.
Don’t let other people’s opinions tie you down – only you can ultimately discover what your ultimate life path is. Only you can listen to the call of your soul. So dare to dream a little. Spread your wings and take the plunge.
Yes, you will probably make “mistakes.” But each mistake you make helps you to learn and mature. Nothing in your life is pointless if you see the soul lesson within it.
Connect with your passion and trust your strength. Enjoy the feeling of flying free!
Read: 7 Signs You’re a Free Spirit (Let’s Drop the Stereotype) »
11. Reconnect with your soul (Ensoulment)
Of all these suggestions, reconnecting with your soul is the deepest and most important practice.
To be true to yourself, you need to be willing to go soul searching and dive deep.
We live in a society that worships rationalism and materialism. The soul has been cast aside and denounced as irrelevant, childish, and at worse, totally illusory.
But to be truly authentic, to walk a path of heart, and to feel fulfilled in life, we need to return back to the soul.
Our lives and our very planet (that is suffering from our collective shadow of soul loss) depend on it!
Here are some free guides that you can explore to begin this path:
- What is Ensoulment? (The Path of the Mystic)
- Higher Self: 11 Ways to Connect With Your Soul
- Soul Retrieval: 3 Powerful Ways to Heal Soul Loss
- Soul Communication: 7 Ways Your True Self is Trying to Guide You
Choose one of these articles to read that calls to you!
This above all: to thine ownself be true …– Shakespeare
Coming out of the closet, revealing your true colors, and listening to the call of your soul can all feel terrifying at first. But in the end, the longest relationship you will ever have is with yourself.
You’re with yourself 24/7, 365 days a year.
Learning how to be true to yourself is vital if you’re to live a vibrant, meaningful, and fulfilling life.
Finally, don’t forget to laugh. Be playful. Laughter is good medicine. When you stop taking yourself so seriously, you can enjoy the dance of life just as it is, without all the drama. So don’t forget to enjoy the ride!
What has been your biggest struggle in trying to be true to yourself? I’d love to hear in the comments!
Earning enough money so that I can do something that is closer to my heart
I am having a hard time in this area. I want desperately to be myself, but if I do, I will probably not see my grand daughter anymore. So, I have a lot of secrets. ( religion and spiritual based )
How can one balance that?