We all love to be liked. We try really hard to get the attention of others, which sometimes leads us to build up an image about who we are and what we can do in the minds of others. This can, however, be deadly for our reputations. When we set expectations in the minds of others, we create a mental model of ourselves that has to be true. If we don’t match up to how we projected ourselves, then the other person can feel mislead, or, even worse, as though they had misjudged us the first time. That feeling of misjudgment can make the other person feel as though they have bad judgment, and that bad judgment can easily be associated to us. That means a negative association, which probably also means awkwardness and unease in the relationship.
This situation is easily avoided, however. We have to be ourselves. But we are very critical of ourselves and it can be truly difficult to evaluate ourselves positively – we tend to think of ourselves as “not good enough” and actually embellish our good qualities to create a better image of ourselves in the minds of others. The thing is, that other people don’t live in our heads. They have their own mental landscapes, and the only way in which we figure into their imaginations is through our representations of ourselves: on social media or through personal contact. That’s not a lot to go one, so most people have a sketchy view of who we are. They certainly don’t have the richness and complexity of what we know about our own self-concepts. So, really, others probably want to talk to us based on the few things they know about us. This means that the risk we accrue by raising expectations through exaggeration or fibbing is unwarranted and unnecessary!
Relationships, whether they are friendly, intimate or businesslike require authenticity. And being ourselves is a good feeling. It means you can be free and easy with the others around you. It means that you don’t have to watch every word you say, every thing you do. It means a burden is lifted from your shoulders and that you can be free. Freedom is an incredibly good feeling – no pretense, no lies, no exaggerations. Just you. And that’s a beautiful thing.