by Arlin Cuncic, M.A.
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Why You’re Afraid to Be Yourself
Have you ever wondered, “what is the fear of being yourself?” Do you ever feel like you are constantly putting on masks? Society tells us that we need to be someone else in order to succeed, so most people go along with it. But what if being yourself was the key to success?
In general, the fear of being yourself is a form of social anxiety. There is no specific term that means “the fear of being yourself.” Autophobia is a related term but means the fear of being alone or lonely.
While we all tend to wear masks to fit social roles from time to time if you find yourself constantly being afraid to be yourself this could be a sign of a deeper inner struggle. Keep reading to understand why you do this and how you can overcome it.
(*Note: We all know social anxiety can be hard to manage. This book on Amazon is the best I have found to deal directly with the problem. Listen for free (read by the author!) with your 30-day trial of Audible.
What is the Fear of Being Yourself?
The fear of being yourself is often a fear of being judged. People who are afraid to be themselves will avoid asking for what makes them happy or try to indirectly get what they want.
They may also feel the need to be constantly agreeable and avoid stating a contrary opinion, even if they disagree.
It’s not surprising that these people often find themselves in relationships where their needs are never met.
The fear of being yourself is also closely related to social anxiety, which can cause you to feel like there is something wrong with you and make it difficult for others to get close.
Why People Are Afraid to Be Themselves
Below are some reasons people are afraid to be themselves.
- You may have learned at some point that your feelings don’t matter because of the way that others treated you. Sometimes this can be learned from parents or significant people in your life if approval is withheld.
- You might feel as though suffering makes you a good person (also known as having a Martyr complex). In fact, doing this to yourself makes you bitter and resentful.
- You may be a perfectionist or feel as though you have to live up to the standards set by family members or other significant people in your life.
- You have a fear that you are not good enough as you are. You are afraid that who you are as a person will not be acceptable to others.
- You have a fear of being judged and so you try to blend in so that you feel safe.
- You have a tendency toward being a people pleaser and it has become a bad habit.
- You have a fear of being shunned or ostracized if you don’t go along with the majority. You feel pressured to “join the crowd” in order to belong.
- You are shy or socially anxious and find it hard to open up to people at all.
How Does Not Being Yourself Affect You?
Below are some ways that not being yourself could be hurting you.
- You will feel burned out from wearing a “mask” all the time.
- You will wonder if people like you for the real you, or just the mask that you present to them.
- You will feel effects in terms of your self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth when there is constant dissonance between who you are on the inside and who you present yourself to be to the outside world.
- If you are very good at presenting a mask to the world, then you will need to keep playing the role that you have presented. This might lead you to be confused about who you really are.
How to Overcome the Fear of Being Yourself
Below are some tips on how to overcome the fear of being yourself.
- Be aware of your criticism and judgment of others. The less you do this, the less you will expect that others will do it to you.
- Become aware of what your true self is telling you and listen to your inner wisdom.
- Become aware of your self-worth and believe that you are valuable just as you are. You can’t expect others to accept you if you aren’t willing to accept yourself. If there are parts of you that you want to change, work on improving yourself. If you lack basic social skills, work on these as well. Develop your social intelligence so you know how to adapt to your environment while still being your true self.
- Start with small changes to let other people know the real you (e.g., share something small about yourself with people that you trust). Gradually reveal your true self.
- Realize that you will be judged no matter what you do. If you are going to be judged anyway, it’s best to be doing what you believe to be right.
- Read the book “Daring Greatly” by Dr. Brene Brown to understand why allowing yourself to be vulnerable could be your greatest asset.
- Recognize that as long as your actions do not hurt other people, you are free to write your own book of life. While you may need to conform to cultural expectations to be accepted, you can do it in a mature and flexible way that still allows you to be yourself.
- Find people who make you feel comfortable being yourself. It could be easier to join a group that aligns with your values than to stay in one that doesn’t. Recognize that things will change and you may need to let go of some people in your life.
- Ask yourself whether your fear of being judged is based on fact or just anxiety. Also, consider whether those who are judging you have a full understanding of what you are doing. For example, if you are starting a business, friends who have only ever worked a 9-5 might not understand.
Benefits of Being Your True Self
Below are some benefits of being your true self.
- You are able to express your authentic self to the world.
- You will experience more freedom, curiosity, and joy in your life.
- You are able to follow your bigger mission in life and do the things that light you up.
- You will no longer feel burnt out from wearing a mask.
- The more that you let your true self be seen, the more memorable you will be to people that you meet. And you will attract the right people into your orbit (the ones who “get” you).
- People can sense when you are being insincere. When you are being your true self, people will feel more comfortable being around you.
- You are able to share your thoughts, feelings, ideas, and opinions freely. You feel authentic and not like you are hiding who you are.
What about you? Do you have a hard time being yourself? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Related Posts about Being Yourself
- 5 Tips to Manage the Fear of Being Judged
- How to Be Yourself (A Book Review)
- Why am I Afraid of Making a Fool of Myself?
What Is the Fear of Being Yourself?
Here are some of my favorite social anxiety tools
Thanks for reading! I hope you found some helpful tips. Since this site is about social anxiety, I wanted to also share some tools I use that I hope you’ll find helpful. Some of these are affiliate links, so if you decide to try them, I’ll earn a commission. However, I only recommend things I have used myself and would recommend to a friend or family member.
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The fear of being yourself is often a fear of being judged. People who are afraid to be themselves will avoid asking for what makes them happy or try to indirectly get what they want. They may also feel the need to be constantly agreeable and avoid stating a contrary opinion, even if they disagree.What is the fear of being yourself? ›
Autophobia, also called monophobia, isolophobia, or eremophobia, is the specific phobia or a morbid fear or dread of oneself or of being alone, isolated, abandoned, and ignored. This specific phobia is associated with the idea of being alone, causing severe anxiety. Autophobia.What is the fear of being good enough? ›
With atelophobia, individuals tend to fear any type of imperfection in their lives. It is an extreme form of perfectionism, leading to various psychological disturbances such as negative self-judgement, anxiety, stress, inadequacy, low self-esteem, and depression.What is the fear of being not enough? ›
We all have days when nothing we do feels good enough. For most people, this feeling passes and doesn't necessarily impact daily living. But for others, a fear of imperfection turns into a debilitating phobia called atelophobia that intrudes on every part of their life.How do I get over my fear of not being enough? ›
- Why Do We Feel Like We're Not “Good Enough?”
- Practices to Stop Feeling Like You're Not Good Enough. Stop Comparing and Competing With Others. Recall Past Achievements. Focus on the Process Rather Than Results. Speak to a Close Friend. Complete an Act of Kindness. Seek Therapy.
It may be because of fears of people's reaction. There could be many reasons, but it helps a lot to surround yourself with supportive people and work on your self-love to increase your confidence and strength when it comes to opening up. It helps to know you're not alone!Why am I afraid to be my best self? ›
A person may fear not being able to live up to expectations (whether theirs or someone else's) and being found out as an "impostor." Imposter syndrome makes it hard for the person to see that their skill, knowledge, and/or hard work has brought them to the place of accomplishment.