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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Learning to Feel Comfortable With Being Yourself

There's a lot of pressure these days for people to look and behave a certain way--so much so that people often don't feel comfortable being themselves.  Many people get caught up in the belief that there's a certain way they're supposed to be and if they're not that way, there's something wrong with them.

What a dull world it would be if we all looked and acted the same.  One of the things that makes life interesting is that each of us is unique.

Learning to Feel Comfortable With Yourself


Here are some tips for feeling comfortable with being yourself:

Stop Criticizing Yourself
It's bad enough when other people are criticizing you or pressuring you to be different from who you really are.  But when you're doing it to yourself with constant self criticism, that's even worse.  But you can learn to stop these automatic negative thoughts by, first, becoming aware of them and then making a determined effort to shift your attention away from your own self criticism.  

You might become aware that you have "old tapes" playing in your mind from critical parents or other early experiences.  Try to develop an awareness that these "old tapes" are from then and not now.  

Stop People Pleasing
Become aware if you have a pattern of constantly seeking other people's approval.  And, if you do, ask yourself why.

Do You Tend to Shift How You Behave to Please Others?


Being considerate and caring towards others is different from constantly needing their approval.  When you tend to need other people's approval, you're placing other people first and placing yourself second. You're also giving them a lot of power over you.

Also, when you engage people pleasing, you're not being your authentic self.  You're accommodating others by shifting how you behave, which makes you come across as inauthentic. 

There will always be someone that you're not going to be able to please, no matter what you do.  So, it's better to know what you want and need for yourself and learn to feel comfortable with that.

Trust Your Judgment and Intuition
Unless you know that you have a history of using poor judgment in your life, trust your own judgment and intuition for yourself.

Most people have a "gut" feeling of what's right for them, but when they're not comfortable with themselves, they rely too much on others to tell them how they should be and what they should do.

This doesn't mean that you can't seek advice from loved ones or from a mentor.  But you need to make your own decisions after you get their input.  

Learn That It's Okay to Make Mistakes
It's inevitable--we all make mistakes.  But if you're so fearful of making mistakes that you allow yourself to stagnate, you're not going to learn from your  mistakes.  

Develop Your Own Way of Being in the World
Part of getting comfortable with being yourself is getting to know yourself and developing your own way of being in the world.  

Change is inevitable.  Who you are today is probably somewhat different from who you were 10 or 15 years ago.  And who you'll be in the future will probably change in some ways.

You might experience yourself as being in a state of transition, which can be confusing or it can be exhilarating or both, depending upon how you deal with change.

Remaining open and curious to others and the world around you will give you an opportunity to have new experiences and to "sample" new ideas and feelings.  You can take what you like and leave the rest, as the saying goes.

Keeping a Journal
Journaling about what comes up for you can be very useful.  By journaling, you capture your feelings and concretize them by writing them down.  This applies to intense feelings as well as feelings that might be fleeting.

Keeping a Journal

Journaling can be a way of dialoging with yourself.

Often, when you write down what you're feeling, you gain insight into a part of yourself that you might not have experienced before.  If nothing else, journaling can provide you with a release for your emotions, rather than keeping them bottled up inside.

Taking Action
As you develop an increased awareness about the tips that I've listed above, you can begin to take steps that will help you to feel more comfortable with being yourself.  

So, for instance, if you recognize that you have a tendency to constantly seek others' approval, notice when you feel the impulse to do this and see what it's like to make an effort not to do it.  

Notice what feelings might come up:  Do you feel good about resisting the urge to seek approval or does it make you feel insecure?  What other feelings come up?  Write it down in your journal.

Getting Help
There's a lot that you can do on your own when you're developing the ability to feel comfortable with yourself.  But if you find that you're struggling with low self confidence or shame, or it has become too difficult to  develop a sense of comfort with yourself on your own, you could benefit from working with a licensed mental health professional, who can help guide you through the process.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.  I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me:  josephineolivia@aol.com

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