Do Not Try to Change Me
Love me as I am, free, sometimes messy, sassy, at times chaotic, imperfect, and always brilliant. Don’t ask me to be well-behaved, nor submissive, nor quiet. Do not try to change me. Let’s not dream about a fairy-tale love, but also let’s not erase those little details that makes both you and me unique. If that’s the way you want it, it’s better to let me go, return me to my world, to the currents of my river, to my nourishing solitude, to my roots…
Benjamin Franklin wisely said that there are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self. It’s clear that such a task is not easy, to submerge ourselves in the ocean of our insecurities, our fears, worries, virtues, and imperfections requires a craftsperson who is not only patient, but also brave.
“One must know oneself. If this does not serve to discover truth, it at least serves as a rule of life and there is nothing better.”-Blaise Pascal-
However, there are few things that are as valuable as defining yourself, such as seeking out private spaces and self-knowledge in order to stay true to ourselves. This is the only way we will be able to establish strong social bonds, and create a life that is honest and in line with our value, in which our behavior and thoughts are always exactly the same.
Having said that, there is something that we should have in mind. Not too long ago, the doctor Yi Nan Wang, a renown psychologist who researches personality psychology, explained in one of her articles that many couples “dilute” part of themselves to achieve more harmony with their loved one; a desire for understanding that becomes obedience and prioritization of the needs of the other, while we store away our own needs in the back of our minds.
Because of this, doctor Wang suggests that we become capable of developing what he calls “balanced authenticity”. This is a concept based on Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, in which all mutually satisfactory relationships first go through a phase in which each person has been able to define their identity.
We need to put healthy authenticity into practice
It could be that in the past you were well-behaved, easily manipulated, complacent… Most of us were at some point because that is how we were educated, because others wanted it that way. Because of this, of course, we were easier to deal with, to control; we were good at fitting ourselves into the gears of our society where often having your own voice is a little too bold.
All of this makes us have some fear or hesitation to show our authentic self. For that reason, and though we had it clear that those thoughts, voices, and feelings are essential to our well-being, we told ourselves “no, it’s better that they don’t see me, they don’t hear me, that I don’t stand out too much”. We have to be rejected by others, we have to contradict others, hurt their feelings, break the mold they forced us into…
However, where is our image of ourselves or our identity right now? It is on strike. We become our own emotional worst enemy when we are unable to put into practice a healthy authenticity. We become victims of our own naiveté by thinking that by being authentic we can cause harm to those around us, even when this is not true.
Let’s show ourselves to the world just as we are, how we think and feel is not an act of aggression. It’s just the opposite. In this way we can define limits and create spaces that are more honest, healthy, and respectable.
It was Aristotle who once said that the healthiest authenticity must come from what he called the “golden mean”, where being honest shouldn’t cause harm or rejection, if we are truly honest.
Do not try to change me, love me with my color, with my brightness and my darkness
The doctor Yi Nan Wang of the Normal University of Beijing recently created a fascinating scale called “AIRS” (Authenticity in Relationships Scale), which has the purpose of measuring the level of authenticity of the relationship between a couple. One conclusion was that one of the keys to social wellbeing is that which people are capable of putting honesty into practice as mentioned before and in that authentic identity we do not put our identity on hold, nor do we let others do this to us.
The 9 items that make up the “AIRS” are the following. To test yourself, respond to each with a “yes” or a “no”:
- I always hide my true thoughts for the fear of disapproval from others.
- I like to serve others.
- I don’t dare to tell others the truth so as not to hurt their feelings.
- I am very aware that I should be true to myself.
- I always find ways of compromising between my needs with that of others.
- I would never give up being myself, and I never would not allow that someone do it to me.
- In general, I tell the truth without worrying about how others will react to me.
- I prioritize myself, the feelings of others are not important.
- I almost always offend people when I speak truthfully.
How to find your score on the AIRS
I’m sure that you already have somewhat of an idea about how you scored on the scale. However, here it is measured in three sections:
- Items 1-3 represent a distorted authenticity, where we tend to leave behind our own feelings and identity for the sake of others.
- Items 4-6 represent a balanced authenticity or the ability to express ourselves freely and with respect, keeping in mind our needs just as much as those of others.
- Items 7-9 represent a selfish authenticity or the extreme tendency to be selfish or aggressive in prioritizing ourselves, to the point where we hurt or offend others.
In conclusion, just as we have seen in relationships with our partner we should be capable of putting into practice a balanced authenticity where honesty is expressed together with respect, freedom together with being together, and self-esteem together with growth of the relationship. In practice, it deals with something we should put into practice in all aspects of our lives, where it matters that we are not well-behaved, nor submissive, rather brilliant, with character, unique, and – of course – amazing.