True Self Vs. False Self

By Anni

True self vs false self: how to tell the difference...

Have you ever felt unhappy even though there’s nothing supposedly wrong?  

Like there’s something missing even though you supposedly have it all?

Like you’re having to force yourself to go through the motions even though you’re supposedly doing exactly what you wanted?

I sure have.

That’s what my life felt like for years.

And the reason is that my true self was being squelched while my false self was running the show.

What Is Your True Self?

Your true self consists of your REAL feelings, needs, and wants.

How are you REALLY feeling right now?

What do you REALLY need right now?

What do you REALLY want right now?

And the REALLY is in caps for a reason.

But the ”right now” part is something worth emphasizing too.

People often think that the true self is something you are born with, and it is in fact the case that some parts of our temperament are likely genetically determined.  I was born a highly sensitive introvert and that fact has shaped and will continue to shape my needs, wants, and preferences for my entire life from birth to death.

But the true self is also influenced by and evolves in response to your environment and experiences.  So to “find your true self” you don’t need to go looking in the past.  You only need to listen to yourself in this moment.


What Is The False Self?

Your false self is the mask you put on to please other people.  Wearing your false self mask, you suppress your true feelings, wants, and needs and pretend to be someone you are not. In order to avoid conflict and maintain harmony, you conform to other people’s expectations while ignoring your own inner voice.

Sometimes we wear the false self mask for good reason.  A child with “my way or the highway” parents or teachers will do it to stay safe.  As an adult, you might do it temporarily because it’s not worth the effort to get into it with an annoying neighbor you can just avoid most of the time.  Or you might do it to keep your job until you can find a better one.

You may also choose to show a different side of yourself to different people.  Your true self is complex with many interests.  Perhaps you’ll bond with your mother over your shared interest in gardening, but decide it’s not worth opening up to her about the details of your career, because you know she’ll just clam up and not get it.

So the mask isn’t an entirely terrible invention and it has its uses.

But what IS pretty terrible is that some people get stuck in the false self.

Some people get SO stuck in it that they are no longer even sure what their true self is like.  The outside world’s shoulds have become so loud that they can’t hear what their inner self wants or needs.  

And this is a BIG problem, because ignoring your true self – ignoring your true feelings, needs, and wants – takes effort.  Suppressing feelings takes effort.  Having unmet needs and wants takes effort.  And the more you put forth that effort, the more stressful life gets.

And the more stressful your life gets, the more at risk you are for mental and physical health consequences. 

True self vs false self: how to tell the difference...

True Self Vs. False Self – How Do You Know Which Is Which?

If you want to be able to recognize when the false self is trying to take charge, then listen for these two words: “I should…”

I should not be feeling…

I should not want…

I should be more…

For me, as a highly sensitive introvert, this is the voice of my false self: 

I shouldn’t want to spend so much time by myself.  I shouldn’t need so much quiet.  It’s really unreasonable.  People mean well. I should want to spend more time with them.  I should just try to have fun. I shouldn’t be feeling so tired. Nobody else needs this much rest. I should really just push through. I should try harder.

And I shouldn’t want to read so much. What kind of a person wants to spend their whole life buried in books? I should really get out more. I should try more new things. I should learn to be more practical. It shouldn’t be so hard for me to drive. It shouldn’t be so hard for me to keep up with the housework. I should be able to do it all.

I shouldn’t need help. I shouldn’t bother people. I shouldn’t upset people. I should just go along.

So that’s what the false self might sound like.

To hear your true self, you need to tell your false self to “shut the f*** up for just a minute”.

To hear your true self, you need to put a stop to the stream of shoulds and ask:

How am I feeling?

What do I need?

Right now?

P.S. Wanna Learn More About Getting To Know Your True Self?

To learn more about listening to your true self, check out my free video class.  You’ll learn:

  • The SECRET to creating a lifestyle that maximizes happiness and minimizes stress (HINT: It has lots to do with accessing your true self).
  • The simple 5-step process for turning your life around even if it seems way out of reach and you have no clue how to get started.
  • The 3 critical mistakes that keep people stuck in life and how YOU can avoid them.

If you are interested, just enter your email address in the form below so I can send you an access link.

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About the author 


Hi! I'm a life coach, a Certified MBTI® Practitioner, and a mentor for stressed out introverts and highly sensitive people. I used to be one myself! My mission is to help you discover your true self and create a life you ACTUALLY like.

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