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The 6 Misconceptions of "Being True to Yourself"

Although I am a campaigner of always being true to yourself, I am also a campaigner of compassion and being fair in the whole process of not hurting others. The true process is all about living a life true to yourself but also to be compassionate of how your "selfish" decisions will affect others lives attached to yours. But before you can embrace such a way of being and living, you must know what that means.

We hear this phrase all of the time: Just be true to yourself. But I feel that it gets so easily thrown around, misinterpreted, and over used, that it looses its true meaning thus leaving us with a half accurate understanding.

I, myself, have struggled with understanding this concept, but as I focus more on my own inner growth, I am learning more and more about what it truly means to live authentically. So today, I want to share with you what it means to be true to yourself by pointing out the misconceptions about it.

Sometimes it’s just as important to identify and get rid of inaccurate beliefs as it is to learn new ones. In order to make room for the new, you must let go of the old.

So here are some mistaken beliefs and ideas to shed.


MYTH 1 - Being true to yourself means not budging on “who you are” and continuing about your ways even if they are negative and unhealthy.

I think this is the biggest misconception of all. Sometimes who we think we are, is really just a mental conditioning that we have picked up throughout our life. And sometimes, we use the idea of “being true to ourselves” as an excuse and a justification to continue about our negative behaviors probably because we don’t want to change.

To say that for example, you being a mean, angry, lazy, irrational, impatient, jealous, scared, worried confused, unorganized, etc. person is just you being yourself couldn’t be further from the truth. And then to not want to change and improve these parts about yourself on the basis that “this is just who I am,” is even more absurd. This way of thinking hinders our growth and keeps us small.

I believe that throughout our lives, we involuntarily inherit and subconsciously pick up all sorts of habits, traits, behaviors, coping mechanisms, and psychological and emotional tendencies, mainly from our parents and our environment, which overtime becomes ingrained in our minds and ways of being.

Eventually, we start to believe that these traits and tendencies are who we really are. We become aware of the it but do not do anything to change the narrative but we continue with what we are doing and in doing that damage and hurt those close to us. And when we believe that these traits are who we are, especially the negative ones, we avoid personal growth and change because that would mean betraying who we are. We say to ourselves: “Why would I want to change who I am? Yes, I am impatient sometimes, but this is just a part of who I am.” "This. is how I deal with things and everyone must just accept that this is who I am" even though we know we sow heartache and hurt in those close to us.

For example, if you had a parent growing up who was always angry and shouted at you all of the time, you may have tendencies as an adult to loose your temper and shout at others, or to become submissive to people around you who are angry. Would you say that being this angry or submissive person is who you truly are and therefore you have no reason of improving this part about yourself? Does this way of being not hold you back from being free and at peace?

"Don’t mistake who you truly are with who you have learned to be" - Kissy Naude.

Who we are isn’t the personality traits or behaviors we exhibit, the emotional baggage we carry with us, or the ways we mentally deal with situations in our lives, such as by being lazy, angry, anxious, impatient, self centred etc. Who we are is much deeper than that. As spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle puts it, who we truly are is not the thoughts we think, the behaviors we have, and the things that we say, but rather we are the observing presence and awareness behind all that we say, do and think. Beyond all of that busy mind stuff, lies a peaceful, present “watcher” of everything that happens at the surface; and this deep, observant, conscious being is who we truly are.

Whatever traits and tendencies we exhibit change throughout our lives. The person I was yesterday is not who I am today. Yesterday I might have been impatient, or not open to communication when I am going though difficult things but I have learned, have grown, and have evolved and so today, I am not that impatient person anymore or not that person that don't communicate anymore. So therefore, there is no use in attaching my identity to these fleeting traits and behaviors because they are not who I am.

Key takeaway: Don’t limit yourself to who you think you are just because this is how you have always been; challenge yourself to overcome those parts about yourself that hold you back from reaching your fullest potential i.e. being free, happy, and at peace.

MYTH 2 - Being true to yourself means doing what you want, when you want, and how you want no matter what. Yes, a big part of being true to yourself is being an independent thinker and doer, not waiting for permission from the world to start doing something. But a mistaken belief is that when you start embracing this way of being, you are suddenly “allowed” to sort of selfishly go about your life without any concern for anything else.

When you are being true to yourself, there is an underlying awareness behind what you think, say and do. Therefore, being true to yourself doesn’t mean you react immediately without thinking, you say whatever is on your mind at all times, and you act impulsively based on your emotions. It also doesn’t mean to have to put others down, take advantage of them, deceive them in some way, harm them, harm yourself, or harm the planet, in order to get and do what you want. Being true to yourself doesn't mean that you don't share what is in your heart and mind, especially if you are in a love relationship. To live authentically means to live true to your higher self, and not to your false self, the ego, which essentially thrives off of being the best at all costs. So when you live true to your higher self, you naturally do what is not just good and beneficial for you, but also what is good and beneficial for the higher good. Your decisions are authentic to you, and you consider the consequences of your actions. It is important that you don't hurt others by living authentically.

MYTH 3 - You abandon your responsibilities for the sake of being true to yourself.

Let’s say you had a life changing moment and realized the beauty that exists all throughout our planet. You realized that your current lifestyle is not doing it for you anymore. You want to travel and see the world. But you still have bills to pay. You have an income to earn. And you have a family to take care of. You decide to abandon your responsibilities anyway and go travel the world for the sake of pursuing your dreams.

This is not being true to yourself. You are responsible for what you create. Whatever mess or situation you got yourself into, you have to get yourself out of. You can’t just escape. You have to pay your debts. If you want a certain lifestyle, go for it, but make sure that you take ownership of your responsibilities and not put them onto someone else.

MYTH 4 - Since you are living a life true to yourself, you can break all of the rules and laws because you don’t believe in them

“I’m a free spirit and I am free to do whatever I want! I don’t believe in rigid rules that try to control me, so I’m going to break them all!”

Yes, there are many rules that are just plain stupid and are meant to be broken. But there are many rules that have been put there for a reason, and even if they don’t make sense to you, they might serve a bigger purpose. The point is, that being a free spirit and living a life true to yourself also means respecting the law and certain rules that have been put into place. The key is to use your inner wisdom, knowledge, and life experience to decipher what rules and laws can and should be broken, and which ones should be respected.

MYTH 5 - You over-indulge in addictions such as eating, drinking, shopping, working, drugs, cheating on your wife/husband/partner etc. because you “enjoy” it and it makes you “feel good” and doing things that feel good is being true to yourself.

Huge misconception. Over-indulging in anything for the sake of feeling good is not healthy as there is an underlying attachment to it to make you feel a certain way. This is not true enjoyment. We might tell ourselves that it is, and that overindulging in delicious food for enjoyment is authentic to us, but deep down inside it stems from a place of emptiness that we try to fill with our addictions.

We get addicted to the feeling it creates in us, but because it wears off so quickly as it is just a temporary fill, we keep repeating the behaviors to recreate the feeling and then we get addicted to the behavior.

What we should be doing instead is getting to the root of our unhappiness and focusing on building the muscle of feeling “full” and “enough” without any external factors. This way, when our source of happiness comes from within, we can truly enjoy the physical aspects of life such as eating, shopping, and drinking, because we are not depending on them to make us feel more happy.

MYTH 6 - You don’t sacrifice your desires, comfort, and personal agenda for the sake of the greater good.

When you let your fear of rejection get in the way of following your dreams, when you let your desire for luxury get in the way of being environmentally conscious, or when you let your need for control get in the way of accepting people as they are, you are not being true to yourself.

If you are not willing to overcome your limitations, put your personal matters aside, or go out of your comfort zone for the sake of the higher good, then you are doing yourself and the world a disservice. Ultimately, you have to trust that whatever path you are on, is the path you need to be on, even if it doesn’t make any sense to you. You can’t always be in control. Sometimes you have to let go and just go with the flow.

Well, there you have it. The 6 common myths of living a life true to yourself.

My general rule of thumb is this:

The parts about yourself that don’t make you feel good, do not serve you, limit you, hurt you or others, drain your energy, keep you feeling small, and hinder your growth are usually the behaviors and patterns that are not reflections of who you truly are and therefore need to be reevaluated.

Conversely, the parts about yourself that make you feel good, open up your heart, bring you joy, make you feel empowered, give you energy, helps others, and motivates you are the behaviors and patterns that NEED to be embraced as they are a good reflection of your true nature.

I hope this article helped clarify a few misconceptions and bust some common myths that for the longest time, I thought were the truth as well. But the more I grow and the more I find my own rhythm, the more I realize just how much there is for me to UNLEARN, and just as equally how much there is for me to RELEARN in order to live my life as authentically as possible.

Love Always

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