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14 Ways That Reveal Who You Really Are

14 Ways That Reveal Who You Really Are

Many times those who are living a lie do so because they don’t feel it’s safe to reveal who they really are. They might be frightened by disapproval from friends and family. Or they may have been bullied as a child. Other times, avoiding an authentic life can be used to hide mental illness or self-hate.

Here are 14 ways in which you reveal who you really are. If you’re brave enough, or if you dare, aim to share who you really are, little by little, everyday, with those you trust. You may be surprised at the reaction. If the reaction is not positive, you may need to re-think who you are inviting into your world. If you don’t feel you have a safe group of friends or family, yet, to share yourself with, go out and live with all your truth and conviction. Don’t forget a half-truth is still a lie. In time, you’ll attract those that need to be in your life. I promise. There is no greater comfort than settling into who you really are. Like Kurt Cobain once said, “Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”

1. Hardships reveal who you really are.

Allowing yourself to be exposed and raw is a very intimate experience. To really know yourself and others, what you are like at your most vulnerable, will include revealing yourself at your worst moments. Sometimes with tears  streaming down your face or when you are emotionally downtrodden and weakened. It could be due to heartbreak, a job loss, disappointment, a death in the family or a divorce. All can be truly tragic and upsetting to the rhythm of your life and dreams. This is one way you will reveal who you really are. During hardship, you can choose to remain stagnant and fearful or you can learn from the misery or your poor choices and make a new path for yourself.

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2. How you act when you’re upset.

If getting upset or disappointed involves you taking your anger out on others (verbally or physically), you are revealing yourself negatively. It makes people want to step away from you and not be your friend. It repels good people from your life. Even your family members may want to separate from you, especially when you are furious and raging. If you take a time out to process the situation, and why you are so upset, and be cognizant of how you relate to others when you are pissed off, you’ll be better off. It won’t be easy for everyone. But controlling yourself even when life is not being kind will only benefit you. Never forget, as Mark Twain once wrote, “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

3. How you treat those who can do nothing for you.

If you only care about impressing those in positions of power, or those who are rich or good-looking by society’s standards, so that you can benefit from this connection, you reveal yourself to be shallow, self-centered, narcissistic and lacking in empathy. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is said to have written, “You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” How you treat those in less prominent positions and those who may not be famous or well-known or powerful in society is very telling as to who you really are and what you really are. But if you’re tired of the way things have always been and are committed to another approach, you can change your habits.

4. Who you are when no one is looking.

You are who you really are when no one is looking. Truer words have never been spoken, or written. It’s easy to do the ‘right thing’ when others are watching and taking note. But what you do and how you cope when there’s no one there is very powerful. If you are lying, cheating, hacking private e-mail accounts, plotting revenge, gossiping about others, taking advantage of someone, choosing what’s easy, are keeping and creating endless secrets, you are revealing an unhealthy way of living. Often, if who you are in private and the self you present to others and who you are inside, is drastically different it can cause significant stress and internal chaos. It’s like holding yourself emotionally hostage. If you are really scared to be who you really are in the company of others you care about, you may be overly preoccupied with how others view you, and how they might respond to your style or interests. Don’t pre-judge their reactions. Make it your aim in life to embrace yourself completely. Being who you really are relies on it. If you are being kind and welcoming, speaking honest and thoughtful words, and wishing only the best for yourself and others, you are revealing a healthy outlook worth continuing.

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5. The types of relationships you pursue.

Sometimes those who have not healed from past relationships, abusive situations or other traumas, will continue to pursue those that remind them of their troubled past. It’s important to remember that you are not your past. Your past is a part of your story, but it is not everything and you don’t have to keep reliving it everyday. Who you are attempting to date, marry or befriend can reveal who you really are, but if you are not fully healed, your pursuits may be skewed and are only temporary. If you find yourself interested in a particular type of personality, there may be a pattern to your choices. You may also be pursuing people because they reflect how you view yourself and the world. Your relationships can reveal a lot about who you really are.

6. How often you admit your own mistakes and failures.

Mistakes and failures are a natural part of living. Without mistakes and failures, we wouldn’t learn all that we do. You may take responsibility for your actions and are honest about the part you play in the choices you make, you may not want to acknowledge your troubles at all, because you just can’t deal or you may be hesitant to mention where you went wrong because you are most concerned with how others will view you and what others will say or think of you. These are some ways you will reveal who you really are. Mary Pickford, one of the first actresses of the United States and Canada, once said, quite beautifully, “You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.” Not only how often you accept responsibility for your actions but also how you you cope with the failures will reveal who you really are.

7. How you treat people in need.

Do you look down on those that have less than you? Do you pity them or come to their aid? Do you ridicule their style or make fun of them? Are you willing to help others or do you feel put out? However you may approach those in need will reveal who you really are.

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8. What you read, listen to and get entertained by reveals who you really are.

Do you like anime? Sadomasochistic films? Action or political satire? Do you enjoy listening to the radio or violent movies? Does a comedy make your evening complete or maybe a famous trilogy? Do you like classic literature or journaling your thoughts? Do you paint or work on engineering and coding? Or are you more business-minded? Do you collect dolls or something else? Do you prefer traveling, listening to records, or jogging? Do you frequent strip clubs, expensive resorts or casinos? Do you like photography, attending live music shows or gardening? Do you spend time wreaking havoc in your community, vandalizing and bullying passersby? Do you find pleasure from quiet time at the library or a soothing chat and tea with an elderly person? Do you use drugs to numb yourself or drink until you are passed out? Do you enjoy a weekly television program or cooking up edible delights from scratch? There are a million ways people like to be entertained. One’s entertainment preferences often reflect what’s going on inside their mind and heart. What you choose to do in your free time and what you find joy from tells all about your story and who you really are.

9. The way you approach your greatest failures.

Your failures don’t define you, and you shouldn’t wallow in self-pity or punish yourself for the stones that may obstruct your path from time to time. But how you approach those struggles will reveal what you are made of and who you really are. If you use your failures as a time to attack those around you, play the blame game or belittle and humiliate, throw tantrums or yell obscenities, it’s time to take a look into your habits and character. Your greatest failures are often simply the beginnings of your greatest achievements.

10. What you find comforting reveals who you really are.

If you find pleasure in the struggles of others (Schadenfreude), or laugh at their expense, because it makes you feel better about yourself, you are revealing yourself negatively. If you find comfort in loving, sharing and being kind, you are revealing an empathetic approach to others. Celebrating someone’s bad days just because you feel low about yourself isn’t cool or interesting. It doesn’t make you seem fun or enticing to hang around. What you find comforting and relaxing will reveal quite a bit about who you really are and what you really want out of life for yourself and those around you.

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11. How you spend your money.

Going on spending binges, spending money you don’t have or at the other end of the spectrum, never spending any money and living very frugally are all ways of revealing who you really are and what you feel inside. Do you spend your money to help others, your community or to furnish a comfortable, inviting home? Do you enjoy spending your money on loved ones and family members? Are you cautious with where your money goes? Do you keep a financial log and save all your receipts? The way you spend money and view finances shows a lot about who you really are.

12. How you speak of others behind their backs.

Gossiping, accusing, criticizing, unsolicited advice and blatant lying are some peoples choices when offered a chance to speak of others. Others might opt to not talk about others private comments and personal life, but instead focus on kind and respectful words or not talk too much at all about others when they are not around, to avoid denigrating another’s character or life, out of turn, and without all the facts. Remember that what you say about others will reveal a lot about how you feel about yourself. What you say about others will show who you really are. If you need to speak the truth about someones hurtful or negative actions and their impact in your life, it’s a quite different story, however.

13. The choices you make are revealing of who you really are.

When you are faced with options, how you choose reveals who you really are and what you really want. Do you go for the easy route? Or is being brave and daring important to you? Do you like new ways of approaching an old topic? Do you reach out to a counselor or is your father’s opinion more important to you? Do you go for the popular choice or the most healthy option? The pattern of your choices are a big part of your true self.

14. How you argue.

Fighting fair is an integral part of any relationships. Do you go straight to the most insulting retort? Do you hear out your friend or partner? Or do you opt for swift revenge? Revenge will only lead to more emotional injury and show that who you really are isn’t so healthy. As Mahatma Gandhi once stated, “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” If that’s the way you have been operating and want to change, you can change how you fight or argue. When you fight, do so neutrally, recognizing that perfection is illusive. Be present, open and honest. Don’t keep score and don’t demand someone read your mind or try to do that of others. If you want to reveal a healthy and revitalized self, you’ll listen and encourage the same of them, when it’s your turn to talk. The way you choose to argue or discuss a disagreement shows a lot about who you really are and what you are about. Remember that almost everything we live is a choice.

Featured photo credit: DuneChaser via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

A dysfunctional family is more than disagreement or constant arguments. Anything from plain neglect, to abuse and even verbal and physical violence is the everyday experience of those who are part of a dysfunctional family.

You know how this looks:

  • Parents constantly comparing children.
  • Siblings in conflict because of tolerated bullying.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Adultery…
  • And many others.

For all the members, this will mean emotional pain and even trauma; which, in case it doesn’t get resolved, will have a detrimental effect on the individual’s personality and development.

Needless to say, the younger members are the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean the parents are out of danger, as most commonly the parents play the roles of abuser-codependent, and in some cases, both parts inflicting pain on one another.

Most like to think these problems stem from deep-seated issues, and that therefore it’s pretty much impossible to deal with them.

This is only true for families not willing to do what it takes, for if only a single member is determined and knows how to do it, the whole family can do a lot of progress.

In this article, I’ll break down for you the basic steps of fixing a dysfunctional family. Although it may seem hopeless, it is possible to turn things around.

If you have ever felt in this position, or if you know somebody who is, this article is for you.

How to fix a dysfunctional family

In a few words the solution for a dysfunctional family lies in dropping the ego, focusing on the solution, switching blame for responsibility and doing the work as a unity, for the good of the whole family.

And this will accomplish things you once only saw as a dream.

Dropping the ego? Switching blame for responsibility? Doing the work? What does all this mean?

It’s simple. In a nutshell, it’s that which will allow you to turn a dysfunctional family into a functional one.

Let’s take a look at how exactly this can be done. And near the end we will also talk about what you can do in a dysfunctional family with cynical traits.

Dysfunctional families where not only problems are well-known, but also nobody seems to want a fix or openly decide to perpetuate the harmful behaviors. Such as the case of abuse and physical violence.

There is also a solution for these, it’s just not what you are expecting…

Dysfunctional… Or just average?

Most families are dysfunctional, though at varying degrees of dysfunctionality.

The milder cases, are just marked by “typical” comically-shrouded bullying or lack of interest in other members’ development or wellbeing.

You can know a family is dysfunctional if their interactions are anything different than cooperation, solidarity, care and support. But let’s get more specific…

A dysfunctional family is one in which members directly or indirectly suffer emotional and/or physical harm inflicted by other members of their family. Most commonly, perpetrated by the parents.

Even harmful actions as “passive” as neglect, which is inflicted by inaction rather than action, signifies a dysfunction within the family.

Dysfunctional families have conflicts such as:

  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Lack of interest and time spent together
  • Sexism
  • Utilitarianism
  • Lack of empathy
  • Unequal or unfair treatment
  • Disrespect towards boundaries
  • Control Issues
  • Jealousy
  • Verbal and physical abuse
  • Violence and even sexual misconduct or abuse

You may think a dysfunctional family has very little or nothing to do with personal productivity, but you would be wrong in thinking this way…

If a person is not emotionally well, she will not be able to perform as desired, as the emotional harm that has been inflicted will hinder everyday performance in the way of inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and low levels of inspiration, motivation and discipline.

Having a functional family does exactly the opposite: It creates productive members with no emotional baggage.

How to turn it around

When you’re part of a dysfunctional family you know it. You can quickly identify in other members the behaviors and conflicts that create the dysfunction.

But just in case you’re having trouble telling functional from dysfunctional I will tell you the following:

One of the easiest ways you can recognize if you are in a dysfunctional family is to survey your won feelings.

We often overlook this, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you feel?

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As cheesy as it may sound it really sheds a lot of light on the subject.

What behaviors, actions and attitudes in your family you wish were better?

Do you think certain behaviors and actions from your family marked you in the past?

Sadly, we cannot go back to the past to correct it. But we can do a lot in the present…

Correction is possible

In order to fix a dysfunctional family, you must start by putting an end to the behaviors and actions that are affecting you.

Verbalize it.

All members of the dysfunctional family have one issue in common: They don’t put a stop to the harm.

Whenever you feel your boundaries being overstepped there is just one single word you have to remember: STOP.

This is the door to a better, more functional family, because after this, comes the fix.

But first you have to identify and make others know where exactly lies the problem.

So go ahead and fearlessly start with “Stop”, followed by your expression of dissatisfaction.

Putting it to work in real life

In real life it would be something like this:

“OK, stop! Every time you belittle me I feel you don’t care. I need attention and respect, and it is your responsibility as my family to provide them to me”

Or:

“Stop. When you compare me with my cousin it hurts, I feel like I don’t matter and that’s not ok. I ask you to stop doing it.

Or:

“Please stop. When you start yelling all respect is lost and it turns into a battle of who can do it louder. Don’t raise your voice and let’s work this out the way humans do”.

As you can see, here you start by putting a stop to the toxic behavior when it arises. And afterwards you verbalize why it’s wrong and what needs of you need to be fulfilled.

This is what you have to remember:

1-Stop.

2-Why it’s wrong?

3-What you need.

And this will also work well in case you need to do it for another family member.

It’s a family thing

A dysfunctional family cannot be fixed by one member alone.

Yes, a single member can initiate progress and be the leader of the change. But in order to completely become functional all members must contribute to the solution.

In other words, you will need cooperation…

So don’t be afraid of asking for it!

Approach your family member and ask to be listened.

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We sometimes feel our needs are “not that important” or we simply believe they won’t listen. But thinking like this would be like being defeated at an unfought battle.

You will be amazed by how much people listen when you voice your needs, especially if it implies showing yourself open, vulnerable and in need.

It’s not a free-for-all battle

In order to get your family to cooperate, first you must fix your individual relationships with every member of the family. Remember: Relationships are always between two people, and two people only.

No matter how complex, the quality of a multi-member relationship (like a family) will always depend on the quality of the individual relationships.

Once you have straightened the relationship with every member of the dysfunctional family you will be able to better communicate with other members and help in the betterment of their individual relationship.

And this is where we will talk about the fix itself. The one I mentioned in the introduction…

The method

1. Drop the ego

Wherever there is conflict there is ego.

You cannot fix a relationship where there is ego, because the ego will want to win. Always. Yours and the other person.

Ego craves control and satisfaction, and in many cases, to establish dominance.

What does this have to do with a dysfunctional family? Everything. Ego will interfere with every plan you have to fix it.

It will make people suborn and defensive. And it will also make them drop responsibility. This is why, the first step is to drop the ego.

After you make sure you are not going to allow your ego to interfere you must work to make the other person do the same. How? By speaking from the heart…

Tell the other person how important all this is to you.

Tell the other person that it’s not a matter of arguing, but just working things out together.

Point out how it is not possible for you to do it alone.

And ask for sincere attention without any desire of opposition, because what you are doing is by no means in the hopes of harming the other person, but just to better the relationship and stop the damage being dealt to you.

You will have to point out the mistakes you need corrected, that’s for sure. And that leads me to the next point…

2. Not blame, but responsibility

When talking about others’ mistakes we often use an accusatory tone. And that’s natural, it’s what things should be like if ego was not present.

But since we are all creatures of ego, this immediately brings the shields up. And then unsheathes the swords…

When we blame others they automatically enter a defensive state, and this only leads to a failed negotiation.

What you need to do is to shift from blame to responsibility. And even that will have to be done carefully!

Instead of telling them off or demanding change or complaining, calmly point what the problem with their behavior is.

As much as this feels contradictory, also make them feel understood. You know how difficult it is to accept a mistake, so just make them feel it’s no big fuzz… which does not mean it’s ok, but it takes tension off.

You will do something like this:

“Hello dad. Can I talk with you for a minute? I really need to tell you something.

I have been feeling pretty sad lately and I know this is something you do care about.

You see, whenever I talk about my accomplishments you mention something else that makes my achievement pale in comparison.

I know you don’t do this intentionally and I know you might have not realized this until now, but I want to let you know this really brings me down.

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It would mean a lot to me if you could stop doing it, and it would help better our relationship, because this has already forced me to distance myself from you. And I don’t want that, I want a good, healthy relationship with you”

What happened here?

We started off with making it something important, something that needs both time and attention. Then we openly show ourselves vulnerable, just as we are.

We also mention why he should listen, and shove our feelings there again, because they are important.

We describe the issue with no attachment and with no hostile intention. It’s just a description.

And then we take the blame off. Just before we assign responsibility without actually saying it.

You are not blaming him directly, but you are pointing out the inevitable fact that his actions are causing a dysfunctionality. He is now responsible for changing.

This is what “switching blame for responsibility” means. What comes next? Doing the work!

3. Doing the work

What would any of this mean if, in the end, nothing changes? Exactly, nothing!

This is why you must follow up with every change that needs to be done.

Do so in a manner that is not hostile. Bring it up in a casual manner, and emphasizing how you both reached an agreement and how that is important to the family.

If the person doesn’t follow up don’t hesitate to bring it up again, and tell them you feel disappointed that your honest try at it was not listened.

It may even be a subject in itself, and therefore the need for another conversation.

“When you go back to old habits it shows that you didn’t really care about what I said. But back in real life you just reinforce how much contempt you show towards me and my feelings.

I talk with you because I care. Because although it would be easier for me to just distance myself from you I rather do my part in nurturing this relationship.

But there is just so much I can do, if you refuse to do your part I can do nothing else.”

You need very clear and positive communication in order to make this work.

Love is all you need

You must remember that in order for a dysfunctional family to become functional, all the work needs to stem from love.

That is the single one requirement for all this to work: Love.

And what happens if it simply is not there?

What happens if, nobody is willing to do what it takes?

What happens if a member of the family refuses to change and is happy with the harm he or she is dealing?

There is only one thing you can do:

To break away.

Let’s be honest, people, especially adults, are very difficult to change.

There is a Jewish proverb that I love, which sums it up like this:

“We spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn what we learned before we were 7”

If you find it very hard to change the very traits that make your family dysfunctional or if it’s simply impossible, you still have a card up your sleeve…

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Although nobody likes to beak away from family members, we must remember we have a responsibility with ourselves as individuals, before any relationship with anyone.

You have the responsibility of making yourself happy and free. Because you matter as an individual, regardless of any relationships you have, be it family, friendship or romantic.

Putting distance

So in case you are dealing with a family member who is simply unwilling to change take both physical and emotional distance.

What do I mean?

Learn, first, to take their damage in a detached manner.

Don’t let it hurt you further. Instead take a deep breath and distance yourself emotionally.

Don’t be attached to feelings such as “Why doesn’t she love me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “If he wasn’t like that my life would be perfect”.

Simply refuse to keep participating in the emotional downward spiral and accept, even if it’s painful” that there is nothing you can do. Accept that even without that relationship you are whole, you are worthy of love and respect.

They are their responsibility and you are yours. So decide what is best for you.

Realize it only comes down to two possibilities:

I keep the relationship and therefore accept the abuse. Or…

I choose my peace of mind.

And don’t let your mind fool you. We often think that since we all are imperfect, we must take the good and the bad behaviors of people. And we are especially forgiving towards our family…

Well, guess what? We are also responsible adults who are aware and must own to their acts. Never excuse abuse or violence or transgression towards you or anybody else.

Choose your happiness and if possible, also distance yourself physically, as it will increase your peace of mind tenfold.

How to prevent it

There are two key concepts you must bear in mind in order to prevent the dysfunctionality of a family:

  • To be completely aware of one’s own mistakes and not allow them to impact others and…
  • To make sure our SO’s are also on the same channel before creating a family (i.e. having children)

Dysfunctional families are the product of irresponsible paternity, for the decades-long unresolved emotional conflict ends up surfacing in the family inevitably, and it will for sure harm those who least deserve it: Innocent children.

You may notice we went from talking about family, to talking about individual relationships, to talking about you. We went from “them” to “us” to “me”.

Why? Because in the end you have the power to fix a dysfunctional family. To correct the mistakes you have in yours and to prevent dysfunctionalities if you don’t have a family but plan to create one.

Priorities and clear thought

You may be part of a dysfunctional family, but that does not mean you are powerless or that you have to suffer the consequences.

You learned today how it’s all a matter of priorities and thinking clearly.

You learned that, if love exists, everything is possible. You learned that even when there is no love and no fix for your dysfunctional family, there are still things you can do. It’s a matter of choosing your peace, because you deserve it.

Everything will be better if you apply this knowledge. If you talk to that problematic family member. If you help them see the harm they are doing. If you make sure they do change and treat you the way you need to be treated…

If you choose yourself over that toxic family member. If you refuse to justify the harm that others can do to yourself. If you realize the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

And lastly, that you also have to be aware of your actions and be open to criticism. Because we might be unknowingly harming others. And that would be us creating a dysfunctionality. Don’t allow it to happen.

Dysfunctional families are not impossible to fix. It just takes love, cooperation and responsibility.

But if you tried and those elements are not present, just choose yourself instead.

Featured photo credit: Xavier Mouton Photographie via unsplash.com

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