Breaking free from who we think we are supposed to be

We sometimes comprise our needs for being liked or being helpful for others.

We are accustomed to conforming to values projected by others.

We all do this to some degree, but if we lose ourselves too much for others, we lose a sense of being ourselves.

As a result we feel restricted.

We feel disconnected with our authentic self.

We get locked in the box of “who you are supposed to be” made by others. There is little freedom to freely express ourselves.

The suppression of our spontaneous self-expression depletes our life energy.

Not being able to be ourselves is very painful.

Why is it so difficult to express ourselves?

Because it is scary.

In order to break free from who we think we are supposed to be and start living true to ourselves, we need to become more aware of our fear, what holds us back from expressing ourselves freely.

Our self-awareness cultivates a reflective capacity to see our fear as it is.

A perspective from developmental psychology gives us an insight into why it is so scary to speak our truths.

Ogden, a psychotherapist, writes that if a child fails to comply with their caregivers’ values and behaviours, they would “cease to exist for the mother.” (1)

The need to maintain attachment bonds causes the child to behave in a way that is congruent with their caregivers.

Because the bond with our caregivers is the most fundamental need for survival as a human being.

For this reason, breaking out of the box feels so terrifying. Our belief that we will be rejected if we are out of the box feels so real for us.

So how can we break free from who we think we are supposed to be?

Courage to let our voice out.

With this courage, we are then able to nurture a real sense of self.

Emerging from our shell and revealing our authentic self – easier said than done.

The first step is recognising what is true for us in the present moment. As you come to see yourself more non-judgmentally, your courage will grow stronger which allows you to find a way to speak your true feelings.

I know how scary it is. I have been there.

One thing I am sure of, though, is that as I reveal more of myself I come to feel more confidence that I am still OK and accepted even after letting myself be seen.

When we are afraid to speak our truths, we live in a fearful belief that if we fail to live up to the values projected by significant others, we would be rejected, criticised, or denied.

We can disprove this belief only through letting your voice out and seeing what happens. 

Ogden, T. H. (1982). Psychoanalysis: Projective identification and psychotherapeutic technique. New York, NY: Jason Aronson. p. 16