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How to be true to yourself

You cannot always choose what role you play whether it is mum, brother, nurse or disabled person. But the type of mum, brother, nurse or disabled person you are is your choice.

Yesterday I spent the day in the primary role of dad. It was my daughter Kember’s 18th birthday, so I took her and some of her friends ice skating at The Eden Project. Kember is absolutely crazy about ice skating and if there was any job or anything she would like to spend her life doing, it would be skating.

We all spend our days playing different roles whether it be dad, brother, son, spouse, boss or friend, among our other roles such as peacemaker, writer, cook, cleaner, neighbour, nurse, social butterfly, entertainer or perhaps fireman.

These are all forms of identity, we temporarily become these different roles as if we have different hats to put on.

Is it any wonder life is so damn complicated? One moment you’re a cook, then you’re mum, and back to cook again in 30 seconds. Everything you do, every decision you make has to be based on your current role and not any other. It wouldn’t go down well if you tasered your son for throwing a toy car, even if in your day job you were a police officer!

What we bring to these roles varies, whether it be daily or yearly or anything in between – we might be feeling depressed or sick or overwhelmed, or perhaps just having a really good time, all of which can make our roles and how we play them out very different.

How many times have you thought you’re not being true to yourself?  Perhaps your job or home situation is getting to you, or you feel like you’re doing something you don’t really want to do? There are times when our emotions get the better of us, we get swept along with life and end up wondering what happened to the years that have passed, and even wondering who we have become.

But wait. STOP.  Stop for a moment and remember who you really are.

Let’s say you’re a tree and the roles are your branches. They come and go, grow and die back, break and look different every season. The trunk is your true self, it’s what makes you you.  It is your core values, strengths and uniqueness.

Do you have a big heart, always compassionate and caring? Are you strong and loyal, with firm integrity? Perhaps you’re a great leader, diplomat or motivator. Maybe you’re a combination of these.

The roles we play are always short lived, however important they may be – yes, take them seriously but also take them on lightly, don’t make them your identity just like you wouldn’t try to support a whole tree from a single branch.

Now, even this true self, your ‘trunk’, is tentative.  It is always growing and changing.  If you find you don’t like who you really are, even that can be changed. You might find you’re closed-hearted, a fighter, nervous, shy, negative, or always in conflict.  Even if things change and you become more social or take on more social roles, you may still believe at your core that you are a shy person. It won’t be easy, but everything can be changed; with a strong belief and honest awareness of your true self you can really bring any core value you wish to any role in life you have to play.

You have to play roles in your life – mum, brother, nurse, disabled person. But the type of mum, brother, nurse or disabled person you are is your choice. If you’re caring and motivated, bring that essence of you into every role you play.

Instead of being ‘a nurse’ be a ‘reliable nurse that cares’, just like you’re always ‘reliable mum’ and ‘caring mum’ at home.  Don’t let life get in the way of being who you really are inside.

Article ‘How to be true to yourself’ Exercise:

  1. Recognise when you’re playing different roles.
  2. Identify 3 core values of your true self that you would like to bring to every role.
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7 Responses

  1. I like what you are saying Stevie, it sits well. But the thing I find tricky is realising I am in a ‘role’ and can therefore take action to do something about it. You have to have a degree of self awareness to do that and in busy day to day life it’s often hard to find the space to give yourself that awareness. You move from one role to the other subconsciously. How does someone bring that kind of awareness to day to day life?

    1. Hi Vicki,

      Yeah, the big sense of awareness the elusive conscious thought. Western psychology wants you to write a journal and analyse everything, Eastern psychology (Spiritual, Buddhist, Confucius) wants you to sit motionless for hours. Personally, mindfulness is the way to go. Meditation made the biggest difference in my life. Learning to allow normal thoughts to come and go without holding or reacting to them, focus on the current moment with a clear mind enables us to respond. Reacting is easy, as you state your subconscious mind reacts to each role. Have you ever read any of Eckhart Tolle’s books? He writes about the power of now and using your breath just to be aware of any current situation.

      I failed at meditation for years because I couldn’t blank my mind, it’s quite the opposite. You cannot think about nothing. If you paused now and took three breaths and only thought about those breaths and nothing else that is meditating. It is about focusing on one thing. The longer you can do it the better you will stay focused during the day and in return being more aware. The habit is important, it’s no good one hour once per week. You’re better doing one minute twice a day. Guided meditation is great, some use affirmations to help them in current situations ‘I am a good role model, I believe in myself’ for example. It gives you a serene mind.

      Apart from that, just pause often and be aware of your feelings, the sounds around you and your breath.

      Really appreciate your comment, thank you.


        1. Hi Noranne,

          Thank you, yes things are really getting there. I appreciate your time stopping by.

          Hope life is treating you good, must catch up soon.


  2. Thanks for the follow on Twitter, I enjoyed reading your article, I feel like my life is a huge book, one chapter ends and another begins. Life requires so much from us its not easy to “stop” and see if I’m being true to myself or not, those core values never change, but they do alter in certain ways, get stronger, or weaker. Sometimes I wonder if it is all worth it, I was my mother-in-laws caregiver for 7 years, she lived here with her son and I, she had high expectations of herself and those around her, she never expressed those, to herself or to me for that matter. I always wondered how she expected anyone, even herself, to live up to those expectations if they were not known. I miss her and I love her, she has been gone now for 5 years and I still think of her everyday. I look forward to coming back and reading more of your musings! This line really got to me “Don’t let life get in the way of being who you really are inside.”

    1. I have just realised I never replied to this comment. My apologies.

      I love what you say, life demands so much from us. It certainly does, and in this day and age it is even worse. As much as I would like my teenage years again, I cannot imagine how much pressure even teenagers are going through today with modern technology.

      Looking after someone is difficult anyway. For both sides, it’s difficult to get things the way I want them but then I have to remember my caregivers are different to me. Your mother-in-law sounds noble in her reasons for not sharing the expectations, but sometimes we need to share and then people can help us the way we want. Such a difficult thing, complicated. She sounds like someone very wise, someone I would have enjoyed being around.

      We all have our own stories, our reasons why, and I believe everybody does things with good intention.


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