At a conference I attended a few weeks ago, I learned about the concept of self-monitoring, a personality trait characterized by being able to adapt your words and actions to a particular situation or person. We all possess this trait in varying degrees. Someone with a high-degree of self-monitoring typically asks themselves (consciously or unconsciously), “What does this situation/person want me to be and how can I be that person?” or “How should I behave in this situation?” while someone with a low-degree of self-monitoring typically asks themselves, “Who am I and how can I be me in this situation?” Neither is good or bad.
While learning about this concept, I realized that I have a high degree of self-monitoring, which helps me make friends easily, network, and feel comfortable in a variety of social situations.
BUT I’ve also realized that being so concerned with the needs of another situation or person hinders me from really being myself in relationships. Sometimes I’m more concerned about being liked or making other people feel comfortable that I don’t act or speak authentically and honestly–I just become who I think the other person wants me to be.
This has led me to create some relationships wherein I’m not 100% honest about my own feelings and needs…which has cultivated resentment inside of me. I think, “Why can that person just say and do whatever they want and I can’t?”
Know what I mean?
It’s totally great and beneficial to adapt your words and actions to the needs of a situation or person to an extent. But when you stop listening and acting on your own needs and desires, that’s when you begin to create unfulfilling relationships and feel resentful that the other person can be themselves and you can’t be yourself.
If you’re getting tired of not being yourself because you’re worried that someone won’t like or accept you, use these tips to create more authenticity in your relationships:
1. Be present when you speak to someone. The next time you’re speaking to someone and you catch yourself thinking about the future, past, or something random, take a few deep breaths, and come back to the person in front of you/on the other end of the phone. Focus on what they are saying. Authenticity lives in the present moment, so once you’re present and focused on someone, it’ll be much easier for you to be yourself…and you’ll get a fresh perspective on them, too.
2. Try the 3-second rule. Remember this? The 3-second rule asks you to pause briefly before saying something. These few moments help you be more present and intentional when you speak–so that you can make what comes out of your mouth really matter.
3. Ask yourself this question. If you feel yourself shifting into fake or inauthentic mode in a conversation, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “How am I showing up right now?” This question helps you step out of yourself for a moment, take stock of what you’re saying/doing, and make a shift to something more authentic.
4. Get to know the REAL you. We’re bombarded with messages about how someone of our age/looks/gender/job/etc. should act or live. But all of that’s bullsh*t if you’re not happy or don’t have fulfilling relationships. Get to know who you actually are instead of looking to other people or forms of media to tell you. Spend a few quiet moments in the morning and at night just with yourself. Journal. Stretch. Meditate. Have a dance party. Connecting with your true self will help you be that person in your relationships.
Remember, adapting yourself to the needs of a situation or person, or self-monitoring, isn’t an inherently bad thing. In fact, it’s needed and good for us to do that. But when you stifle your own needs, and worry that someone won’t like who you really are, that’s when relationships begin to lose their authenticity and level of fulfillment. These tips can help!