Wondering what the pressure is that you feel all the time? It’s the pressure of living a lie. Here ís a quick quiz that will let you know if you’re living a lie. Just answer these questions honestly to get the answers you need.

Do you feel:

  • Worried that other people don’t like you?
  • Like you are constantly hiding behind a mask? Or several masks depending on the situation?
  • That if you say no, you are a bad person and will be letting everyone down?
  • As though you’re not good enough, no matter how hard you try?
  • Trapped in a life that does not seem to be your own? Like it no longer fits, if it ever did?
  • Like you are always comparing yourself to others, and you always come out on the bottom?
  • Afraid that if your boss, co-workers, spouse or children found out X about you, they would never feel the same way about you?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you can bet that you’re living a lie.

Before you get too upset, know that you are not the only one. It is an easy trap to fall into and can be a deep and difficult one to climb out of. But once you recognize the lie, it will be well worth the work to start living your truth. You’ll be rewarded with a happier, healthier, more powerful life.

Reasons You Could Be Living a Lie

It seems as if almost from the moment we are born, women have a certain role in their families that comes with a certain set of expectations. These expectations influence us whether they are spoken or unspoken. Our families and the rest of the world are constantly telling us who we are supposed to be rather than allowing us to find out who we really are. Most parents want their children to be happy but these family expectations can be troublesome whether they are high or low.

Suppose your family keeps telling you that you should be a lawyer when you grow up. Not a bad thing to encourage, but maybe you don’t have the grades for law school. Or maybe you have no interest in being a lawyer. (I checked it out and it is nothing like law shows on TV.) The weight of these high expectations would work against us if we want to make our parents happy by ignoring our own desires.

On the other hand, our parents might have low expectations for us that could crush our natural interests. Maybe they don’t support our efforts to get a higher education because nobody in our family has ever gone to college.They don’t want you to get your feelings hurt if you aim for something they think is out of reach. But choosing not to try to do something you are capable of doing is living a lie.

We all receive a bunch of messages about how we are supposed to act, think, and be. For instance, children should be seen and not heard or it’s a sin to waste food so we should always clean our plates. Over time, these habits become second nature to us. However, they are not necessarily healthy or helpful if they lead to being terrified to try for a promotion or showing confidence in your skills.

When we go to school, we might have a teacher who is never satisfied no matter how hard we try. Or we might be told we are not good at math so we should not even bother to try. We might be bullied over the way we look, dress, speak, or even for being too smart or too stupid at school. Rather than get encouragement or support from the adults who influence our lives, we are told to deny our feelings or show up small.

There are now more opportunities for women to defy traditional expectations, but the truth is that we often internalize societal attitudes and actions as normal and then judge ourselves as abnormal or less than perfect if we want to live our lives differently.

It’s not hard to see that there are several reasons why we might be living a lie. Between peer pressure, parental pressure, and societal expectations we can create a mask to hide our true selves and feel more accepted.

The weight of being a fake person can be overwhelming. Think about how much energy you would expend trying to be the perfect manager, wife, daughter, role model, super hero, sibling, etc. As the pressure builds from outside to conform, your own authentic self begins to feel trapped and miserable, like a caged tiger in the zoo pacing back and forth, plotting how to be free.

If you have been living a lie in order to please others, you owe it to yourself to start taking action to live a more authentic life in which your true self can shine through.

Allegra Sinclair is a professional coach and confidence expert. She hates to see women living small and loves to help them change how they show up in the world.

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