Would it surprise you if I said that most people live their lives without being completely honest with themselves? We all have parts of our personalities we want to hide because we are afraid that if people see "the real you," they won't like it. I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say that this is normal human behavior. When we were children, we wanted to be liked, and it is often in childhood that we are first teased about a physical or personality trait that we quickly learn to hide. When I was a child, other kids would tell me that I was weird. Of course, this really hurt my feelings. To steer attention away from the "weird" me, I tried to be "normal" like the other kids and to "fit in." But doing this meant that I lost a lot of what made me...me.
Some people have become so good at hiding parts of themselves that they don't even realize a part of them is gone and has been replaced by an empty feeling. And we all do it. We suffer from insecurities, we don't accept who we are, and we self-sabotage ourselves through addictions and other behaviors that don't get us what we truly want. Often, we see how we aren't being honest with ourselves in terms of our love relationships. When a relationship is healthy, happy and balanced, chances are that the two people are in touch with who they really are and are able to communicate this effectively. Relationships that are one-sided, abusive or maybe even a little too perfect can be the result of one or both partners not being in touch with who they really are and hiding the parts they don't want seen.
When you have a strong sense of self, when you feel like you are a worthy person on this planet, it doesn't matter what other people think of you. You don't feel the need to be judgmental of others or gossip about others because you are secure with yourself and therefore grounded in acceptance of yourself and other people. Just take a moment to imagine what it would feel like to truly be free to be who you are. If this exercise makes you feel really happy, then you may not be hiding too much. If it makes you sad, then I'm guessing you have an inner longing to be your authentic self. Being honest with yourself is a bit like being naked, and few people are really comfortable being naked. Being honest with yourself is having naked emotions.
Let's explore some of the ways that we aren't honest with ourselves. See if any of these situations sound familiar to you:
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- You hear an inappropriate joke and either laugh at it or say nothing at all rather than letting the person know it was inappropriate.
- You say yes to everything even though you sometimes feel like saying no.
- You use the excuse "I don't have time" when you probably do have time, but the real answer is that you aren't interested.
- You hide the parts of yourself that you deem "bad" or undesirable so that your friends will continue to call you.
- You buy fashion labels just for the labels rather than because you want a high-quality item.
- You won't reveal to a friend that you are feeling anxiety or depression because you don't want her to run for the hills and not talk to you again.
- You overcommit your time because you want to do everything even though you can't possibly fit everything into your schedule.
- You tend to cower in a corner at a party or talk to only one person all night. You may judge others by how they look.
- You have unhealthy addictions.
- You sometimes feel like a fraud, as if you're just going through the motions of life.