Recently, a reader messaged us and asked what it means to be your true self. I love this topic because it always raises the question: What is your true self?
It’s a hard thing to define because all of us have several social roles that we play.
Let me give you an example.
I behave in a certain way when I’m with someone I’ve had a one night stand years ago but quite different when I’m with my mom. Thus, what is “ok” behavior with my old fling could qualify as “not so ok” behavior when I’m with my mom. This is called a social norm. Social roles and social norms always go hand in hand.
Science tells us that everyone has quite a few roles: son, friend, partner, acquaintance, awkward one-night-stand…
So if we act differently depending on who we are with and what past experiences we share with these people, what is the overarching behavior that we call our true self?
I believe it’s our values and staying true to them. E.g., if one of your core values is respecting others no matter their age, race, gender,… then joining a racist knitting club specializing in Nazi symbol tablecloths would be a misfit. The same would be true for agreeing with someone on a sexist comment just because you want that person to like you.
Values are the mortar that keeps our behavior consistent with who we are.
That leads us to two simple conclusions:
- If we want to be our true selves we must get crystal clear on what our values in life are.
- It’s ok to adapt your behavior depending on who you are with as long as you stay true to your values.