Fear is a common human emotion. Although we are often afraid of something different, there is one thing that almost everyone is generally afraid of. There are many reasons to be afraid. Some people are afraid of public speaking, others of spiders. Then some fears tend to be more visceral, like fears of dying alone, of what the future holds, etc. All of these fears and many more unspoken ones are understandable and certainly shared to some degree by many people.
However, in the time I have spent exploring not only my own inner fears but also the inner fears of my clients, I have come to understand that our greatest fears are much deeper than anything that has been mentioned. I believe our greatest fear is being ourselves.
Why do we fear being ourselves?
I often see many of us adjusting what we say, how we look, how we act, and so on. To simply conform to whatever we think the situation calls for. We check the state of the room, the relationship, or the conversation, and then decide to reveal only a part of ourselves.
But why do we do this? Why are we unable to reveal the real us, with all that goes with it? Mostly because we are afraid that some of our “parts” will not be accepted. And the idea of someone rejecting our authentic self is much more frightening than someone rejecting just some part of us.
So we put on masks, add filters to what we say, and build defenses to protect our intimate and vulnerable parts as much as possible.
What’s the problem with that? In a word, everything. When we continually act like a chameleon to whatever external stimuli exist in our lives, we move further and further away from what truly resonates with us in life. And the more we drift out of alignment with each other, the more restlessness will follow us in almost every aspect of our lives.
How to be comfortable with the self again
After taking stock of the whole situation, the question becomes – is there anything we can do about it? I offer a few suggestions that have proven to work not only in my own life.
Find out when you don't feel good
Become aware of areas of your life where you don’t feel like you can fully express yourself. One tool that I have found very effective is psychedelic drugs in conjunction with a trusted contact in the form of a friend, and or therapist.
Let go of your ego
It’s crucial to realize that not as many people are actually as interested in the details of what we do or how we behave as we often think. And I don’t mean that in a negative way, I simply found that to be the case.
Build your self-esteem
Try to practice revealing small parts of your true self where you feel safe. Then take small steps, each of which will eventually be less nerve-wracking than the last. How do I practice this? I take my headphones, put on my favorite song, and laugh all the way to the store.
Being open and honest takes time
The above advice sounds like something that takes time. And often it does, rarely does any major change happen overnight. The desire we have to feel accepted by others is deeply ingrained in our DNA. From an early age, we are taught to do certain things to gain someone’s affection and not to do others to avoid making acceptance impossible. The result is that we adopt a gradual strategy of changing ourselves to “fulfill” whatever we think will give us love, attention, financial opportunities, and more.
But until you know yourself intimately and are able to live authentically, you will always feel some sense of discomfort and unease. Because you will not be living in harmony with who you really are. So don’t be afraid to be yourself.