June 02 2023 – Delikate Rayne

Throughout our development, we've created masks to wear when encountering other people. For some of us, we've designed these masks as a coping mechanism from re-experiencing things like hurt, neglect, or rejection. However, the adaptive a.k.a. the 'false' self, used in a healthy manner, is to enable us to properly interact with others as well as manage and balance our lives. Therefore, to live with a dominant false self, or in highlighted and edited versions of ourselves, can cause many struggles throughout our lives and make us miss out on opportunities to genuinely connect with other people.

According to our sources, the false self can lead us to putting on a facade with others resulting in an internal sensation of being depleted, drained, or emotionally numb, have a tendency to turn to mood-altering substances in order to feel “different”, and act in ways that feel forced, alienated, or detached. On the other hand, the authentic self is said to mean our thoughts, beliefs, words, and actions come from a rooted place from within us, an equal balance between our values and lived values, and a unique combination of our various talents, skills, interests, and abilities. In other words, our true authentic selves mean we align what we say and with what we do in our lives and feel comfortable expressing ourselves when need be.

Your authentic self goes far beyond the roles you play in life (e.g. employee, spouse, friend, etc.). It's the you that you are when no one else is around and only few get to see. In your most authentic form, you free yourself of the pressures of social norms and the need to show up for everyone else. It is said that you'll know you're operating as your authentic self if what you do gives you a sense of purpose or fulfilment, rather than feeling drained and lacking energy, your relationships are based off of honesty, and genuine respect for who you truly are, you have confidence and self-love in who you are and are proud to share that person with others.

Our development years are found to be the root cause of how we learn to function in the world. While the adaptive self can be used to protect our authentic self from being exposed in inappropriate situations (e.g. share our deepest feelings and thoughts at work), it could hinder us and lead to dysfunctional behaviors such as narcissism when fostered in an unhealthy way. If you struggle with turning off your false self or being true to yourself, we suggest implementing these tips for developing the balance between your adaptive and authentic self:

  • Maintain alignment between what you need and feel and say and do, being aware of that part of you that may say and do socially acceptable things to fit in and appear normal
    • Observe yourself and write down what it feels like when you're being authentic vs adaptive to bring those feelings into your awareness
    • Develop deeper connections with loved ones by removing the mask and expressing your thoughts, feelings, and interests
    • Stand up for yourself by maintaining your boundaries and asking for your wants and needs as well as bring awareness to what you consider to be valuable to you
    • Open the dialogue between your true and adaptive self through meditation or a thought practice
    • Face the fears your adaptive self has learned to protect for your authentic self by identifying, experiencing, accepting, and letting go of those emotions that have been buried
    • Implement self-love and forgiveness practices to seek compassion and love for both your truest self and others

    Source: Homebody Club, Mindfulness Muse, Growth thru Change, & Psychology Today
    Photos via Pinterest (Elizabeth Meigher) & Glamour UK (Leanne Bayley)