How to overcome your need to fit in

Your real friends will appreciate you for you — quirks and all.

The question: I feel like I’m never myself in social situations. It is almost like I’m a chameleon and I just try to blend in with everyone else. I’m not sure exactly why I’m like this. Do you have any insight into this and tips?

My guess is that you get anxious in social situations because you fear how people might respond. Perhaps you’re afraid of rejection or judgment and you adapt by trying to be like others. Though it may make sense on one level, you’re missing out on being you, while others miss out on seeing who you truly are. Follow this exercise taken from my book, “BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life in 28 Days.”

1. Before you can be yourself you must know who you are: for example, what you stand for and what makes you tick. Know where you come from and where you’re going. How would you describe yourself if someone asked? Be able to give such a description with ease and confidence. Make a list of your convictions, beliefs, passions, values and strengths.

2. Understand the role that hiding behind a mask plays in your life. Are you shy, anxious or unsure? Do you feel inadequate? Or perhaps you are afraid to shine or dislike attention. If so, seek help to address any underlying issues.

3. Practice expressing yourself by writing out your thoughts and feelings, including how you feel about yourself, situations you might experience on a daily basis and people you might encounter during the day. Learn to express yourself clearly.

4. Don’t care so much about how others perceive you. The more you do, the more you are trying to fulfill their expectations and not your own.   

5. Do away with social comparisons. They only lead to resentment and move you away from being who you truly are.

6. Finally, practice opening up to people you trust by starting a conversation, talking about your day and how you feel. Be honest and forthright when expressing yourself.

- Jonathan Alpert is a licensed psychotherapist. His new book, “BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life
in 28 Days,” is available at major booksellers and Amazon. Follow him online at www.jonathanalpert.com, on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jonathanalpert) and on Twitter @jonathanalpert.  

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.


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