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Dare to Reveal Your Inner Self

Girl opening her chest to reveal her inner self.

“It is imperative you stay in touch with your inner self so you don’t lose the essence of who you truly are.”

Omoakhuana Anthonia

Revealing Your Inner Self

For those of us who came from verbal or emotional abuse, and even for those who didn’t, it can feel risky to reveal to others who you truly are and what you really think. A willingness to reveal your inner thoughts depends on the nature of your relationship with the other person, the degree of trust established, and your personality. For example, what you reveal to your boss may be different from what you reveal to a trusted best friend or partner.

Who is Your Inner Self?

Your inner self is comprised of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, along with intuition, values, and beliefs. A strong inner self means that you cope well with your emotions, are self-aware, have clarity and a good sense of your values, and feel a purpose in life. It also means that you can remain calm and resilient in the face of adversity from the outer world.1

Are You Suppressing Your Inner Self?

If you don’t know your inner self or you’re unaware that you’re suppressing your inner self, it means that you’re afraid of your feelings and avoid feeling them. Stuffing your feelings or emotions results in:

  • Anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem
  • Headaches, stomach or digestive issues, and insomnia
  • Issues at work and in your relationships
  • Addictions2

For optimal mental health, it’s critical to allow yourself to slow down and feel the feelings without attempting to cover them up with distractions, such as excessive busyness or the use of substances. Feelings do not last forever; they do pass. What’s important is deciphering their message. Allow yourself the time and space to reflect on what the feelings are telling you.

Who is Your Outer Self?

Your outer self is the physical person you present to the external world, as seen by your clothing style and hairstyle, along with makeup and accessories, if any. It also includes your public personality.

Why You Suppress Your Inner Self

We wear invisible masks to protect our inner selves, face certain situations, protect our wounds, or hide frustrations and weaknesses.3

You may not want to reveal your true thoughts and feelings to others because you:

Fear exposure: You don’t feel safe in the environment. You’d rather remain silent, anonymous, or go unnoticed.

Fear criticism from others. You fear criticism from others over what you say, don’t say, do, or don’t do.

Fear offending others: You may suppress your true thoughts and feelings that are contrary to those of others. Examples include the expression of political or religious ideology.

Fear conflicts with others: You fear others won’t agree with you; therefore, your ideas or thoughts may conflict with theirs, which may be uncomfortable. As a survivor, you learned that it was safer to comply with requests or demands with which you disagreed, rather than rocking the boat and risking negative repercussions.

Fear rejection or negative judgments from others: You fear others will dislike you if you are your genuine self and say what you think or feel. You don’t want to risk looking stupid, ignorant, or foolish.

How Debilitating Is it to Suppress Your Inner Self?

In relationships that are important to you, suppressing your inner thoughts, feelings, and beliefs can create unnecessary distance between the parties. Consequently, the growth of genuine intimacy in the relationship remains stunted. Frustration, dissatisfaction, and fatigue are the byproducts of suppressing your true self from others, as well as a sense of isolation or even depression.

How Do You Achieve Closer Relationships?

Regardless of the type of relationship you have with another and the degree of intimacy, you will always get the best results when you are genuinely yourself. To reveal your true self to others:

  • Speak out. Offer your opinion, compromise, or solution. Express your thoughts and feelings. Be yourself.
  • Let yourself be vulnerable by expressing your emotions.

As a human being, you already possess the perfect package—inside and out. To achieve a closer relationship with a partner, relative, or friend, you must be willing to reveal both your outer and inner selves. You can start slowly by taking baby steps.

Environments Where Carol Ann Held Back

In exercise and work situations, I realized that I held myself back from self-expression.

Biweekly aerobic dance class

Outer Self: My aerobic dance classes were my joy. But over time, I developed a gnawing feeling that I was holding back performance-wise. So, instead of remaining self-conscious and worrying about how I looked to others in the class or what they might think of me, I made a conscious decision to go all out. I knew I was skilled, and I loved performing. It was time to let it all hang out! And after leaving my shell, I was out forever.

Inner Self: Freeing my physical self was the segue to freeing my emotional self. Making a conscious decision to let loose emotionally resulted in periodic whoops of joy emanating from my throat at moments when the music led up to and reached a crescendo. I had to let it out—like a cork flying out of a bottle of champagne. This freed up others to do their version of the whoop. The room was energized!

Monthly group work meeting

Inner Self: In a monthly group work meeting, I did not feel safe saying what I thought. What would the boss think of my remark? What would my peers think? Would they think it was a stupid idea? Would I look ignorant? Would they disagree with me? It was simply safer to remain silent. I did, however, express myself much more freely in one-on-one meetings with my immediate manager.

Benefits of Breaking Through Emotional Binds

Expressing your inner thoughts and feelings can result in the exhilarating feeling of just being yourself. You may experience a sense of freedom and relief from removing those invisible bindings.

Giving yourself the freedom to express your true self results in:

  • Renewed energy. You don’t have to expend energy reining yourself in.
  • Closer, more satisfying relationships. Others become acquainted with the real you, inside and out, rather than the masked, protected you.
  • Satisfaction and relief for expressing yourself rather than bottling it up. It’s gratifying when you express a concern, an opinion, or a belief, whether anyone agrees with you or whether anything changes because of your expression.
  • Happiness with yourself and your relationships.
  • Becoming your true and best self.4

Related Blog Post

How to Self-Parent Your Inner Child

References

1. verywell mind. “The Tension Between Inner and Outer Self” By Arlin Cuncic, MA, Updated on April 26, 2021, https://www.verywellmind.com/tension-between-inner-self-and-outer-self-4171297

2., 4. SFWT (Therapy for Women & Couples Counseling). “Are You Avoiding Your True Self?” By Sige Weisman, MFT. November 1, 2017, https://www.sfwomenstherapy.com/self-empowerment/are-you-avoiding-your-true-self/

3. Forbes Coaches Council. “Are You Hiding Your Inner Self?” By Georgeta Dendrino, Forbes Councils Member. June 2, 2020,

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2020/06/02/are-you-hiding-your-inner-self/?sh=3a69669d611b

Additional Resource

The Inner Work: An Invitation to True Freedom and Lasting Happiness by Mathew Micheletti, Ashley Cottrell, et al.

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