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What does it mean to be my "True Self?"

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

First Step Men's Therapy helps men across Ontario, Canada develop healthier relationships with themselves and others. We offer individual, couples, and group counselling to men and their families online using our secure telehealth platform.

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I have heard of "true self", but what does that actually mean?

Am I living my "true self"? Often times, we hear this phrase in movies, from professionals, and in the books we read, but what does it actually mean and how would be know if we were living a life in accordance with our true self or false self?

True self refers to one's ability to be aware of and experience a full spectrum of emotions (including difficult, painful ones) and to use this understanding throughout one's life. To live as your true self, your beliefs and values aren't dependent or reliant on the opinions and ideas of others. Living in the false self requires one to suppress and deny feelings, needs, desires, and wants in order to stay "connected" to others, often resulting in further pain and appeasement of others.

Those living their true self often are able to:

  • identify and express all feelings (not just positive ones)

  • be intimate with themselves and others

  • are okay to make mistakes and know it is part of life

  • can be flexible and adapt to stress and change

  • can make decisions on their own when necessary

  • live interdependently with others - not relying too much on others or being too distant from others

  • can affirm and approve of themselves and their decisions without relying on the approval or validation solely from others

What does living with a false sense look like?

Men that often struggle with living with a false self tend to have difficulty being intimate, vulnerable, making decisions, taking care of themselves, and feel feelings - which can lead to addictions and other issues that lead to even more of a sense of false self. Clarifying values can also be a helpful approach to better understand what one values and wants from themselves and others. Therapy can be a great way to learn about the roots of one's false sense of self, and to help create a path forward that allows for men to learn, heal, and grow and develop healthier self-esteem, self-care, boundaries, confidence, and intimacy.

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