You Are Not What You Say You Are
What are you hiding?
If you’re willing to sit a moment with the question, you’ll probably come up with a list of things you’d really rather not acknowledge, let alone discuss. Maybe it’s a health issue. Or maybe you never finished your degree. Addiction. Trauma. Perhaps you’ve been abused. Or perhaps you’ve been abusive.
But I don’t just mean the bad stuff, I mean the good stuff, too. Just as you deny the negative, there are positives you deny, too. What strengths, talents, and accomplishments do you diminish?
If you cover, gloss over, and pretty-up your negatives (and who doesn’t?), it’s likely that you cover, gloss over, and tone down your positives.
Why do we do this? It’s more “normal” (aka acceptable) to be middle of the road. People can be cruel—they mock and disparage what’s different, and that hurts. And they aren’t any nicer about the “good” stuff! Some people seem eager to put others down for their beauty, their intelligence, their talents, their interests, and their hard-won skills. So, we play it safe to keep from being a target.
But this mediocre image of yourself that you’re presenting is not the real you. It’s FAKE. You are a lot worse, and a lot better, than you let on. Most people have it exactly backwards: Instead of accepting and owning the reality of who they are, they deny the negative and are self-deprecating about the positive. Yet this is a false, dumbed down, “safe for public consumption” version of you.
Accept and own the REAL you. Take a good hard look in the mirror and acknowledge those negatives AND positives. See yourself, your complete, true self. Let go of the shame.
People aren’t ashamed of their positive traits, you say? BS! I guarantee you have good things in your life you are ashamed of. I’ve met people who were ashamed of their good looks, ashamed of their wealth, and ashamed of their artistic ability, to name a few. When I was in high school, I had a HUGE crush on my assigned lab partner in Physics class, so, naturally, I never spoke a word to him except when we were working on an assignment together. One day, he asked, “Why are you even in this class and not the AP class, ‘cause, like, you’re really smart…”
My immediate reaction? Oh noooo! He thinks I’m a NERD!!!
We downplay our strengths and talents all the time, and that doesn’t do ANYBODY any good.
To be clear, accepting and owning your full, real self doesn’t necessarily mean sharing it. There are some parts of your history, your personality, and your ability that you may only ever share with trusted friends. Keeping something private, though, is very different from keeping it secret. It’s no secret, for example, that I am a woman. I don’t share, reveal, or flaunt the parts of me than make me a woman. They’re private. But I accept them and I own them and they are with me wherever I go. See the difference?
What happens when you face the reality of yourself and own the good AND the bad? Look at this wonderful list of benefits:
1. Stability. When you accept reality, no one can use it against you. It simply IS. People may still try to mock and disparage you, but you’ll no longer need to defend yourself or fight back. When you are grounded in what’s true, others can’t knock you off balance. There is immense power in this.
2. Integrity. You don’t have to worry about your “image,” because you are who you say you are.
3. Relevance. Others can only relate to the REAL you, not the homogenized version. Even if you don’t choose to share, accepting and owning yourself leads to deeper connections and stronger relationships.
4. Change. It is only once you have accepted who you are that you have any power to change your life. If you have a problem, you have to acknowledge it before you can take steps to fix it. If you have a strength, you have to acknowledge it before you can build on it. You must face the truth if you want to change your life.
Only you can be you. Only you have your unique blend of traits and experiences. Only you can do something with what you’ve got. Accept and own your positives and negatives to increase your confidence, strengthen your relationships, and spark change.