One of the most important things in life is being able to trust your gut and pay attention to your deepest wishes.  However, it’s tricky to know the difference between impulsive actions and speaking up in order to honor your morals and values. 

When I was fresh out of my divorce, I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be loved if I had a different opinion than than the person I was with.  As a middle aged woman, it sounded so infantile that I needed to morph into something else to gain love or approval. Yet, these beliefs stemmed from my marriage and from my childhood experiences.  As a kid, almost everyone wants to be a cookie-cutter version of someone else.  When someone steps out on there own or has a different perspective then the others, they put themselves at risk for being teased or ostracized. 

One would think that eventually the urge to conform to others would dissipate, but there I was as an adult still feeling the need to keep my own viewpoints to myself. When I did not want to live where he wanted me to live, when I wanted to worship somewhere different than a denomination, or simply when his opinions did not match mine, I chose to either keep quiet or prove how mine was the best. I never wanted to disappoint my husband, or give him a reason to think of me differently, so I molded myself into what I thought he wanted.  I would cave to please him or try desperately to convince him why my opinion was better or ok.  I realized that while I was so caught up trying to make him happy, I lost myself.  It was not me anymore in the relationship, but a different version of me that I was not content with. 

When we care about what other people think about us to the extent having to defend our position or abort our dreams, we enter into a damaging place.  While negation and compromise are an important part of any relationship, some things aren’t up for discussion and complete submission tends to lead to resentment, lack of intimacy, and even depression.  Although it can be scary, we need to be able to be ourselves and understand that if it works out it is meant to be.  If someone doesn’t love us despite our differences, then they didn’t love us as our individual selves.  If we want to be close to those we love we can’t fear that they will overtake us or wont see us.  

Here are some tips to help find out who you are and hold on to it while in a relationship with another person with different perspectives.

When entering a relationship, check in with yourself to see if you are living your life or someone else’s. When you do concede or say yes to someones request, ask yourself if you are doing it to control someone’s feelings about you or because you truly want to do it. 

Be aware of any excuses that you are buying into that keep you from being assertive and showing off your true self.  Challenge those beliefs and try and replace them with more accurate thoughts.  

Along with that, you can work on being comfortable with who you are, and not needing approval from others to know that you are amazing and worthy in your own way.  Get involved in activities that bring you joy and spark your passions.  Make a point to spend one day, or even half of a day, by yourself per week.  Practice great self care – hot baths, exercising, reading a great book, watching your favorite show –  and take the time to enjoy the company of YOU and what YOU love to do.

You can also make a list of things you like about yourself, and other assets you would like to work on. Become more clear about who you are as a person so you can articulate that to others.  If you don’t know who you are, how will you be able to exist independently from others?  

Throughout the day say a positive affirmation about yourself out-loud in the mirror.  When we repeat something enough, it slowly begins to sink in as who we are.  The same is true about negative thoughts, so stay conscious of when they are surfacing and stop them!  

Choose positive friends to spend time with that respect your thoughts and wishes.  This will reinforce that you can be accepted for being you and give you practice asserting yourself in a safe environment.  

Find a connection with a higher power or God.  Having a relationship of acceptance can lower the need to please humans and decrease loneliness.  Finding spirituality can assist you in living your life for a higher cause, even if it means just going against the crowd.  

Overall, you want to be with someone because you choose to, not because you feel like you have to.  You deserve a relationship full of the real YOU, not the fear of rejection or abandonment controlling your false image.