It seems like just being myself should be something that comes naturally, but it’s so easy to bend a little here and flex a little there in order to be liked and to compromise in relationships. If I’m not careful, I have stopped being “me” and become someone else that I don’t recognize. I’ve learned over the years that this is something I need to pay attention to in order to make sure I don’t wander off track.
The links I’ve collected for this week’s link love are all ones that speak to different aspects of my struggles to consistently show up in an authentic way in my life without hiding parts of myself to make others comfortable, trying to be something I’m not to be liked, or setting goals based on what I think is expected.
The first link tonight is an article from The Nation by Jessica Valenti called She Who Dies With the Most ‘Likes’ Wins? She explores the ways that women (in particular) tend to present themselves as more agreeable and less opinionated than they really are in order to be liked because there is still a stigma to being a powerful, strong woman in our culture. The desire to be liked is a powerful force that can cause us to play small, but it doesn’t do us any favors in the long run. This is a great look at this dynamic and what it costs us.
The second link is a post from Jon Acuff on his self-titled blog called #3 in 2012: Why do friends attack your dream? He takes a look in this post at the reasons why our friends sometimes react in negative ways when we make the decision to go after our dreams. This is one of my big triggers because I am quick to give up my dreams as soon as a friend reacts in these ways to me in order to avoid the conflict and discomfort in the relationship. I have kept myself small and given up many dreams over the years because of this very dynamic, so this post was a big help in helping me really understand the dynamics that may be occurring for the other person. It doesn’t eliminate the conflict or discomfort, and I still need to learn to work through that, but it does help me see that a friend’s reaction is not about me anyway. It’s always about them.
The third link is a post from Tiny Buddha by Angela Marchesani called How to Keep Your Strengths from Becoming Weaknesses. I have often been guilty of overusing my strengths (because I gain approval for using them) to the point where they become weaknesses. My tendency toward co-dependency is an example of a strength (compassion) carried too far so that it becomes a weakness. This post is a great reminder to me of how easy it is to get so caught up in the positive reinforcement that comes from using my strengths that I become off-balance and tip into unhealthiness. It’s something for me to watch for.
The final link for tonight is one that a dear friend recently shared on Facebook; it’s a post on big think by Megan Erickson called Why Be Happy When You Could Be Interesting? This article argues that a focus on just being happy is actually rather boring. What makes life fulfilling is being inspired, passionate, engaged with the world, and interesting. It reminds me that my focus on being liked (and therefore “happy”) is ultimately never fulfilling. It feels good in the moment, but it leaves me empty. Focusing on being authentically me by living into all of the quirks, interests, hobbies, and passions that are a part of me is far more fulfilling than an person’s positive regard for a tamed and masked distortion of me. This re-framing of the relative value of being happy is invaluable to help me keep my focus.
What reminders do you find helpful in your life to be authentically you when you are tempted to change yourself to fit in?
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