We all know the old adage- ‘Know yourself, be yourself, love yourself’ and like most people I often struggle with all three, so do many of my clients.  

Being true to who you really are can be one of the hardest things to do in life. External pressures to fit in attempts to keep family and friends happy and a general fear of being rejected, all contribute to us opting to conform as opposed to standing out.

Add to that, we live in a hyperconnected information-saturated world where it is extremely tempting and devilishly easy to watch what everyone else is doing and compare ourselves to others.

Having worked with women all over the country who are in the process of shaping, creating and launching a personal brand, I have come to realise the struggle is real. I have also noted three common behaviors that give me a clue that my client is hiding behind a mask –

1.    Constantly seeking the opinion of others

I recently consulted to a woman who outrightly admitted most of her career and adult life had been driven by the opinion of others. If someone thought she would be good at something she simply went along with it. Only at the young age of 50, was she beginning to ask herself what SHE wanted.

When asking someone for their opinion, we need to take into account the full picture of who that person is. We need to consider their age, gender, culture, life experience, and lifestyle.  For example, if you are starting a new business and you ask your friend her thoughts after she recently failed in business, you can be fairly certain the opinion will be negative.

2.    Consistently using the word ‘should’ in all or any area of your life

The moment you say you ‘should’ be doing something, is a clue you don’t really want to do it. You may be living life according to rules that do not feel intuitively right for you. One of my clients found herself working in her husband’s thriving construction company because she felt she ‘should’ support him. Her inner voice, however, was screaming at her to chase her dreams of becoming a leader in natural therapies. She was beginning to resent her husband to which end she was not only doing herself a disservice, she was also indirectly punishing the man she loved the most.

3.    A general lack of motivation and feeling of lethargy

If you couldn’t be bothered doing what you do and you are bored with who you are, it is another great sign you are not on track. It takes a lot of energy to pretend to be something you are not. Several of my clients have enjoyed high profile corporate careers that they no longer found satisfying. The truth of the matter was, they had changed and the impersonal ways of the corporate world were no longer feeding their soul. The moment they stepped out and were brave enough to share their creative endeavors was the moment they became energized with possibilities rather than paralyzed with fear of judgment.

One of my favourite books of all time is ‘The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying’ by former palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware; in which she lists as being the top regret (in her patients words)- “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”. Before it becomes a regret may you discover how to ‘know yourself, be yourself, love yourself’.