Finding Your Authenticity in a Lifetime of People Pleasing

Cognitive Behavioral Therapist explaining how CBT works to a new patient

By: Emily Powell, M.S.Ed, M.Phil.Ed

“Who am I? What do I want? What do I need? What is it that I even like? What are my passions?
My hobbies?
Err…. who am I kidding… I don’t even know what I want for lunch, let alone who
I want to become.”
Sound familiar?

Perhaps you are an emerging adult, feeling detached from what excites you. Maybe it is difficult
to recall a time where you felt “aligned” with your authenticity. You might be at the point where
you are just trying to get through the day so that you can crawl back into bed, where you can
forget about all of these existential and overwhelming thoughts.

Being a young adult is difficult “af.” Most of us can remember the times when our younger
selves looked up to twenty-something-year-olds with starry eyes, thinking “wow, they are really
adults,” or, “they really have it alllll figured out.” HA! To be young and naïve.
In all seriousness, feeling disconnected from your authenticity can feel like a tremendous weight
to carry. It can feel disorienting, uninspiring, and downright depressing. For so many of us, we
are merely conditioned to be disconnected due to the intersection of societal standards and our
contextual upbringing.

Many folks grow up with caregivers who are inconsistent in their moods and responses to us as
kids. This can create the sensation of having to “walk on eggshells” around our parents and
caregivers. In other words, we must put our own needs, desires, and personalities on the
backburner in order to “assess” whether our family members are approachable that day. We learn
that it is on us to mute ourselves in service of connection to the family.

This relational pattern can then transcend outside of the home and into our other relationships.
We move through our relationships with “people pleasing” tendencies (i.e., prioritizing the needs
of others in order to access acceptance and connection from those around us).
This is then further perpetuated by many societal norms. We are taught to look, act, speak,
behave, exist in certain ways in order to “get in” or “fit in” to social standards. Oftentimes, being
our authentic self might be unsafe or unsupported due to racism, sexism, homophobia,
transphobia, and white supremacy. All of these prejudices and systems further alienate us from
our truest selves. At the end of the day, it is a basic human need to access acceptance and
connection from other human beings. We, as humans, can go through a lot in attempts to achieve
this need of connection.

Chronic detachment from our core, authentic selves can be protective in many ways. It may, in
fact, have helped you to survive thus far. It is our body and mind’s attempt to get what we are
needing: love, connection, nurturing, and acceptance. Simultaneously, it can contribute to
sentiments of being stuck, confused, blunted, and overwhelmed.

You deserve to feel connected to who it is that you really are. You deserve to understand,
intuitively, what it is that you need. You deserve to be surrounded by people and places that
accept and support you and your essence.

Through the therapeutic process, you can understand yourself in a deeper way so that you feel
empowered to become the most aligned version of yourself.

Interested in learning more? Reach out to Emily today at