General Question

mattbrowne's avatar

Life is about being yourself - Why do so many people pretend to be someone else?

Asked by mattbrowne (31719points) March 31st, 2009

Self-actualization is a term that has been used in various psychology theories, often in slightly different ways. An explicit definition of self-actualization according to Maslow is “intrinsic growth of what is already in the organism, or more accurately of what is the organism itself. Self-actualization is growth-motivated rather than deficiency-motivated.” This explanation emphasizes the fact that self-actualization cannot normally be reached until other lower order necessities of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are satisfied. While Goldstein defined self-actualization as a driving force, Maslow uses the term to describe personal growth that takes place once lower order needs have been met.

People that have reached self-actualization are characterized by certain behaviors. Common traits amongst people that have reached self-actualization are as follows: they embrace reality and facts rather than denying truth, they are spontaneous, they are interested in solving problems, and they are accepting of themselves and others and lack prejudice.

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13 Answers

JellyB's avatar

Maybe because society and parents and so on always have too much to say about why you aren’t good enough as you are. And always comparing you to those who they deem to be “better” than you.

squirbel's avatar

You have to realize and accept this fact: some people don’t care about knowing truth, or growing [mentally, physically, socially, philosophically], and others do care. Those who don’t care – we will call them “sheep”.

Sheep need shepherds. They need someone to tell or show them how to be. They emulate the shepherd and his ways. Sheep these days follow many shepherds. What they wear is important, how much money they appear to make is important, who they are with is important, what they own is important, what they drive is important, etc.

But when you are self-realized – you see that these things are not important. Your own growth is what is most important to you. And you realize that sheep exist, and the world cannot be any other way. Not everyone can be self realized.

If they were – the world would not be the way it is now.

Triiiple's avatar

Fitting in is a bitch especially when you are younger, when you get older you realize what you were doing.

But hey we all wanna fit in somewhere.

gailcalled's avatar

I spent years trying on other people’s personalities, due to my own insecurities and lack of behavior by my parents that made me confident.

After therapy and some life lessons, I have arrived at being me, or I, or myself. It is very relaxing and easier on the nervous system.

gambitking's avatar

I agree with…....Metallica…..

“Forever trust in who we are and nothing else matters.”
“Life is ours, we live it our way and nothing else matters.”

aprilsimnel's avatar

A lot of people have absolutely no concept of what “being themselves” might mean. And if they’re told early enough that behaving in a certain way will get them love and acceptance (or at the very least non-abandonment), then they will continue to do what they believe they have to do to get their needs met.

It’s a very, very, very lucky person whose existence is not set upon from the beginning with conditions in order to have those needs for love and security met.

zephyr826's avatar

I teach in a high school, so I’m a constant witness to people choosing not to “be themselves.” For the most part, this public version is often “better” – cooler, more “together”, less destroyed by the realities of being a teenager. I find myself doing the same thing, on only a lightly-higher level. It’s no longer about what I wear or who I hang out with, but it’s still about appearing that I have it together. Sometimes I’m able to convince myself that it’s true and I become, temporarily, the public version of myself. I think we all do this, and as long as it doesn’t get out of hand, there doesn’t seem to be a major problem.

GAMBIT's avatar

There are endless amounts of distractions that take us away from our true self such as the media and popular culture. These two distractions alone can cause someone to behave in a manner that isn’t part of their original makeup. Also each person is affected in some way by their community and their family history. Yet our families should not completely define who we are. I have found that I didn’t grow to be a mature adult until I left home and lived on my own.

Harp's avatar

I’d say that ultimately, self-actualization requires both not being limited by definitions coming from the outside and not being limited by our own self-concepts.

The first part is difficult enough. We’re bombarded from the get-go with ideals to live up to, cultural norms to fulfill. The habit of measuring one’s self against these ideals is difficult for some, and easier for others.

The second is much harder. While we may rebel against externally imposed standards, we tend to take our own ideas about who we are at face value. And yet they can be just as limiting, if not more so. The ideas we harbor about ourselves are often nothing more than various scraps of persona that we’ve found elsewhere, took a liking to, and folded into our own. When we’ve lived with this collage long enough, it begins to feel like “me”, and we forget the external origins of all that stuff.

Self-actualization requires the close and brutally honest examination of all these self-concepts. It’s OK, even necessary, to have ideas about who we are. But it’s important to see how little of that is actually intrinsic to us. Once that is seen, then we realize that we’re not bound or determined by those self-concepts. If they came from the outside originally, then we can also let go of them when they no longer serve our best interests.

GAMBIT's avatar

@Harp – yes and if someone asks GAMBIT who are you? I can only answer that I am a man. I let others fill in the blanks. I enjoy your writing Harp. Thank you.

Harp's avatar

edit: meant to say ”Breaking the habit of measuring one’s self against these ideals is difficult for some, and easier for others.”

@GAMBIT Thanks!

kevinhardy's avatar

im not pretending to be somebody else. I like the things i like. I do the things I do. All those negative judgmental people are wrong and can kiss my rear.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I’ve not met anyone like that yet and if I have then something about them mustn’t have held my interest for me to pay attention. Of IRL interaction, any acquaintances or friends have been consistent and of the few online interactions where I’ve met anyone in person, only one was inconsistent with their online persona.

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