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  • Writer's pictureDr. Elena Duong

Challenges to Authenticity

Updated: Feb 7

It's already difficult to be your authentic self without mental health concerns. When you have mental health concerns, it can be more challenging.

These challenges can include mental health stigma, lack of support, and invalidation of lived experiences. Unfortunately, people tend to judge and discriminate against those who struggle with their mental health. Some do not know how to support their loved ones with mental health struggles. They may choose to avoid them or say something insensitive once they are aware of their struggles. Others may invalidate their experience through comparison or tell them to disregard their struggles (e.g., to push through their pain or they don't look like they are suffering).

The following situations may make it more difficult to be self-aware when struggling with mental health, including coming from a dysfunctional family background, functional avoidance/denial, and depression, to name a few.

  • Growing up in dysfunctional families, you tend to try to minimize yourself and blend in, whether it be through people-pleasing, perfectionism, codependency, or something else

    • It makes it harder to be self-aware when you were not taught to have a voice or may not be allowed to have one

  • Avoidance/denial can function to help some avoid this realization of lacking a voice

    • Once you realize how dysfunctional your environment is/was, it can cause a crisis in your own self-identity

  • For depression, its symptoms (i.e., low energy/motivation, trouble concentrating, and difficulties getting out of bed) can make doing anything challenging, including becoming more self-aware and introspective

Living according to one’s values and beliefs is never easy. Fear of rejection is real once you make your values known, which can include setting healthy boundaries. Some people may be used to getting their way with you and may reject you if they can’t get their way with you again. There represents a very real fear of losing “friends,” but if they were truly your friend, they would try to understand and accept you as you are. It also does not help if you have a dysfunctional or toxic family environment, which often reinforces you to live according to their values and not yours. They may judge you since your values are different from theirs and not understand or accept your values.

All in all, you are allowed to live your life how you want to. It may be different from those around you or the same. When we live our lives according to someone else's values, we tend to suffer since we lose sight of ourselves. It is never too late to self-reflect and to start living the life you imagined. Take it one step at a time; you will get there. If you want to start with values, click here.

If you are interested in learning how to be authentically you to work through struggles with your mental health, feel free to contact us here for our mental health services.

Stay tuned. The next topic is "Simple Ways to Practice Radical Acceptance"

Written by Elena Duong, Psy.D.

Edited by Susanna La, Ph.D.

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