Why Being Your Authentic Self is Good for Your Form
What does being your ‘authentic self’ mean to you? Owning your beliefs? Your sexuality? Your background? What about your personality? Your priorities? Your mental health?
With a shift towards more compassionate workplaces from the most forward-thinking employers, businesses are beginning to search for ways that allow their people to bring their true selves to work. Why? Because it makes them happier, healthier, and far more productive.
In fact, feeling comfortable enough to be your true self in any situation — whether that’s at home, at work, in your relationships with others, or even in your relationship with yourself — is a pretty big pre-requisite for living a contented life. But if part of your identity is met with stigma or misunderstanding, it isn’t always easy to be yourself and own who you are.
Identity, Mental Health, and Self-Esteem
Our mental health and wellbeing is significantly affected by our levels of confidence, self-esteem, and connections with others. If you don’t feel accepted, seen or understood, it can change the way you see yourself, the value you place on yourself, and the relationships you form with the people around you.
In an ideal world, we’d only ever surround ourselves with people who embrace every part of what makes us, us. But that isn’t reality, and it isn’t always possible to just walk away from people who disrupt or upset our identity.
The key is to get to know yourself — your beliefs, values, priorities, interests and passions — so deeply that if someone does come along to disrupt your sense of identity, it only shakes you a little (rather than dismantling your whole sense of self). Because let’s be honest: with the best will in the world, none of us is immune to the comments and behaviours of others.
So think about what’s important to you, and never let that go.
Role-modelling tolerant behaviour is also a really powerful tool when it comes to owning your identity, helping other people to own theirs, and educating those around you on the power of inclusion.
How to Help Others Embrace Their Identity
Whether you struggle with people accepting your identity, or you’re conscious that you could be more accepting of others, learning how to help people embrace who they are — unashamedly and unapologetically — can only be a good thing. In fact, it’s something that perfectly encapsulates the Form ethos of ‘Be More Human’ (you can even get this on tees now!).
We could all benefit from embracing our imperfections, owning who we are, and being open about our mental health. So here’s a few ideas on how to be more accepting, and altogether more human:
- Really listen to what people are saying when they talk to you
- Be open to understanding different viewpoints, even if you don’t share them
- Show compassion, empathy and encouragement in your dealings with others
- Respect people for opening up to you, and showing their true selves
- Share your views with others, but don’t impose them
- Remember that everyone has an equal right to dignity
- If someone confides in you, never discourage them from expressing themselves
Embracing Healthy Growth
Our identities are affected by the relationships, environments and cultural factors that surround us. They are changing all the time — if only in very subtle ways. And while certain ‘core’ parts of ourselves will likely remain the same, there is always opportunity for growth.
You should never try to change your sexuality, your values, or any of the wonderful things that make you, you — but if there are parts of who you are that don’t contribute to good form, remember that we are always evolving. We can all learn to be more patient; more compassionate; more understanding. We can also learn to take better care of ourselves; to prioritise ourselves; to invest in our wellbeing.
We don’t always have to be the person who hates exercise; the person who struggles to eat healthily; the person who can’t tolerate change. If you feel like you’re characterised by something negative — something you actually want to change for the good of your wellbeing — never let anybody make you feel that it isn’t possible.
Your identity is yours to own, to shape, and to grow.
And with a whole lifetime to spend with yourself, that identity is one you need to get comfortable with.