You already know this but—you’re stealing life from yourself when you betray your own path and turn your back on who you are. You don’t deserve that kind of treatment, friend.

What are the ways you might be betraying yourself?

There are many ways I’ve done it and you might be doing it too: Saying yes when you want to say no. Saying no when you want to say yes. Saying nothing when you have a lot to say. Saying more than you want to say when you really want to keep it to yourself. Doing nothing when there’s a lot you want to do. Doing too much when you need to rest. Pretending to be like someone else. Hiding who you really are. Going through the motions when you don’t believe in what you’re doing. Knowing what you believe in, but not doing what you most believe. Following the crowd mindlessly when you know there’s a different path meant for you. Staying still and complacent when you feel compelled to join a cause.

Getting into the habit of making self-betraying decisions can easily turn to a lifetime of living everything but self-respect. So, let’s talk about the miraculous things that can happen when you decide to be who you actually are:

1. You’re going to be better for every single person you love—and better for people you don’t even know are watching.

I start here because so many of us have a hard time doing anything that has the word “self” in it. We seem to have a hard time doing anything that might take something away from anyone else. The problem is, we often misinterpret this. Behaving in a way that is true to who you are and putting an end to behaving in ways that betray you is not selfish. It IS self-respect, though. And self-respect breeds respect for others.

When you start thinking that making needful changes in your life is selfish, remember that the best version of you is ultimately the best version for others. The truest you is the most potent YOU, to serve in the places in your life where you want to serve. The most influential version of you is the most helpful YOU to show up for the good of the world. And the best version of you when it comes to others is the TRUEST version of you—the YOU who doesn’t get drained of precious life-force because you are doing the right things at the right times for the right reasons, in the right places and with the right people.

Finally, when you stop betraying yourself and start doing what feels right for YOUR life . . . you’re also showing others the way, giving an example so they can stop betraying themselves too.

2. You’re going to feel so much better when you stop pretending you don’t struggle with weaknesses.

Everyone has weaknesses. Let me remind you why weaknesses are one of the secret ingredients to a beautiful life with meaningful relationships—weaknesses, combined with strengths are one of the most powerful forces to bring us together. When you have a problem that needs to be solved, you are able to allow another human being with great strengths to use those strengths in ways that enrich their life immeasurably.

Weaknesses give us both the fuel and the opportunity to learn new things, meet new people, and stretch ourselves in ways that would not have been possible otherwise. If we did not have weaknesses, we would not know the incomparable victory of overcoming something that was difficult to overcome.

Most great inventions and discoveries come about because someone was trying to help somewhere that needed help—making a weak place strong. Weaknesses contain the seeds of opportunity that will lead to some of our greatest life experiences. So, a great way to stop betraying yourself is to list your weaknesses and then list the opportunities for growth that could be possible because of them. You can show up to life with NO NEED to hide your weaknesses, when you decide to be loyal to yourself.

3. You’re going to stand so much taller when you stop pretending you don’t have incredible strengths.

There are things that will never be done in this life the way you could do them—if YOU don’t do them. This means there are beautiful experiences that will never happen if you do not create them. There are all sorts of reasons we hide our awesomeness. Most of these reasons are rooted in some kind of fear or insecurity—and it’s easier to just hide our talents, gifts, and strengths than to risk the pain and complications that could come into our lives if we were to show them. I will go into this in more detail in #6, but I hope you will see that any pain from revealing your strengths and gifts will be so overshadowed by the good! You are here to use your strengths in the world, wherever there are corresponding weaknesses. (See #2!)

This is how we create unity in our relationships and communities—rather than punishing each other for our weaknesses and exploiting or destroying each other where we are strong . . . we show up to patch the holes with strengths and bond in vulnerability over our weaknesses. It doesn’t work unless we are all willing to do it, however.

Please stop betraying yourself by pretending that you are not completely awesome at the things you are completely awesome at! Hold your head up high, stand tall in the world! You belong here and you have so much to offer! Not only does the world need you, but you’re missing out on a whole lot of profound experiences meant for you precisely because of your unique strengths.

4. You’re going to find so much joy when you stop pretending you’re not a little weird and unique.

I think we have all gone through stages in our lives when we just wanted to fit in with others, whether trying to customize ourselves to fit perfectly with one other person or a whole group of people. The parts of yourself you have to leave behind when you do this are often the sparkling pieces of light that make you most unique—and yes, even a little weird.

I LOVE people who embrace their weirdness, and I bet you do too. This means that when you proclaim out loud you love pickles on your peanut butter sandwich or you never read the Twilight series . . . you can see this as a reason to stand a little taller instead of shrivel into a dark corner to hide, hoping no one ever finds out.

It hurts to feel like you have to hide parts of yourself that make you who you are, so be kind to yourself, and wave your weirdness with pride, and encourage others to do the same!

5. You’re going to be able to drop the fear of what will happen when “they” find out who you really are.

Listen closely on this one, okay beautiful human being? If someone has a problem with who the real YOU is, they’re probably not a great match for you. It’s totally okay to not be a perfect match for others, but it’s really NOT okay when you feel like you have to keep parts of yourself hidden behind a protective wall, because you’re afraid of what will happen if you show up as your authentic self. This is no way for you to live, dear soul.

There are good, kind, loving, and welcoming people in the world—there really are. Sometimes they are hard to find, but they are SO MUCH EASIER to find when your brightest light is shining. It’s nearly impossible to find people who are like you, or are a good match for you, when you are pretending to be someone you are not.

It’s exhausting to feel the fear of being “exposed” all the time. You get to be who you are. You have a right to be who you are, in peace. Who you are is enough. There is a place for you. You belong in the world, too.

6. You’re going to realize that missing out on an authentic life is far more devastating than the pain of having a few people reject you.

Trying to win the acceptance and approval of others sometimes comes at the enormous cost of not ever experiencing what it’s like to be who you actually are—and often comes at the cost of not living out your life dreams.

Friend, this life of yours, it is valuable. You have a chance every single day to live out the ideas, dreams, and desires that are uniquely yours. You have a chance every day to BE WHO YOU ARE. What an incredible opportunity to start each new day with another chance like that!

I’ve seen people bury their life dreams and life desires, trying to win the approval of others. I have buried my own life dreams and my life desires trying to win the approval of others. I’ve seen people bury their most authentic selves until it nearly smothered them—it’s like being buried alive! I’ve felt this deep pain myself. I’m so grateful to have found the courage to be who I am. I hope you will do what it takes to do the same.

Missing out on the joy of expressing who you actually are is what I categorize as a tragedy. Please don’t betray yourself this way. It’s okay if a few people reject you; the more authentically you live, the more likely it is to happen. It is okay. It is all okay. You will find your people and they will find theirs. Please be true to yourself.

(P.S. Postponing is different than burying. One is making choices from a place of power, and the other is making choices from a place of powerlessness. There are seasons for all sorts of things and sometimes we have to postpone the good things for the best things.)

7. You’re going to discover you have superpowers that would never have been realized unless you activated the bravery to be true to yourself.

When you do the thing you are most afraid of doing, miraculous things happen. When you face the challenge you’ve been most afraid to face, you find yourself becoming who you were always meant to be.

You’re going to shock yourself when you discover how incredible you are. I promise! In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Be true to yourself and unlock the doors to your greatest self. It will astound you.

8. Life will start feeling like an epic adventure, an experiential school—and when we treat it as such, in the fullness of who we are, things fall into place so much better.

Life is a school—sometimes there are group projects that we get to do together and sometimes we have to take parts of these classes all alone—there is no other way.

There are times in life that are like specialized, intensive courses where the final project requires a whole lot of shutting yourself away to study and process what is happening, what has happened, and what you are to do with it. We have to allow ourselves these times, and we have to allow each other these times—without taking any of it personally.

Being a human being is really hard. This life school is really hard. It makes it so much easier when we stop pretending there aren’t really hard parts that require EVERYTHING we’ve got, to get through them.

Things fall into place so much better when we realize that every experience we have can teach us more about who we are, who others are, and how all of this works. We can avoid so much unneeded pain when we remember that everyone is on their own path, with their own “class schedule,” and then support each other as we each do our best to make it through these life classes.

You are enrolled right smack in the middle of life-school, on an epic adventure—one that goes so much better when you focus on being who you are and allowing others to do the same.

9. You get to be who you are and other people get to be who they are—those are the very best relationships anyway.

When you decide to stop betraying yourself—and you’ve been doing it for a long time—relationships will often have to adjust. This can be the hardest part about being true to who you are, but it can also be the very best part.

One of the most loving things you can do for someone in your life is to encourage them to be true to who they are, too.

Relationships can feel incredibly painful when either person feels like they have to change the core of who they are to be accepted. The best relationships are based on YOU BEING WHO YOU ARE and the OTHER PERSON BEING WHO THEY ARE—and both of you finding great joy, support, and learning in this relationship. These kinds of relationships are a great comfort in life and worthy of taking great care of.

But . . . not everyone is a good match. As life changes, our best matches change. This is all okay! It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with either person—the most loving thing to do is allow a person to change while they allow us to change.

10. You will find the life elixir you’re here to find—first it will heal you, and then you will be able to take it out into the world to heal others.

Finally, I truly believe that the things that make you most deeply who you are . . . those are precisely the things that hold the ingredients to make the medicine that will help others in ways only you can. When you emerge from overcoming difficult challenges to find the courage to be who you are, you will have something that you never could have gotten otherwise. This is a miracle.

We are here to find the ways we can help ourselves, and we are here to help each other in the places where we each fall short.

So, this time of becoming yourself can be seen as a time in the laboratory—creating the special combination of life-elixir that will first help you, and then you will go on to help others with it.

I hope that you feel a deep sense of motivation to be who you are, but even more than that, I hope you recognize that THERE IS NO ONE ELSE LIKE YOU, and this reason alone is enough to take your life seriously and show up in the fullness of who you are.

You are a miracle, you are a marvel, and you are an important part of this human family, it would not be the same without you and your contribution.

Please be true to yourself; please don’t let another day go by living any sense of self-betrayal. You are worthy of the deepest respect. Please give it to yourself.

I am cheering for you, I love you, and you matter to me.

melody ross

P.S. You’ll find so much more about how to stop betraying yourself and live true to who you are in Soul School under the learning path—DISCOVERING YOURSELF