Don’t Fake Yourself Into Failure and Unhappiness

by Stephen Mills on March 9, 2009

Be Yourself

Most of us, myself included, have put on a phony face at one time or another.  Some do it every day at work, out with friends, on a date, at a social event, or even writing a blog post.  Why do we do this and what are the consequences?  We are under some misguided belief that hiding certain parts of who we are will lead others to accept us more readily.  We believe that if we wear that socially acceptable mask, that somehow we will be happier.

Hiding Yourself Leads to Incompatible Relationships

If you hide your true self when you are dating or in other social situations, how are you ever going to find your soul mate?  If you pretend to like a certain kind of music, support a particular political philosophy, enjoy wine and cheese when you really want beer and a pizza, you are guilty of false advertising.  You are going to get a mate who bought Pinot Noir and woke up one day with with a Budweiser.  She may barf it up in disgust.

You need to advertise your core self at all times and if you don’t that person who is looking for you will walk right past you and never notice.  That’s going to really suck isn’t it?  It may have happened to you already.  It is a great big world out there and thanks to the Internet and other modern technology, that world is open to you.  You don’t have to impress the neighbor boy or girl anymore.  You need friends and lovers but you don’t need any particular friend or lover.  You need business associates but you don’t need any particular business associate.  Don’t throw away the chance for true happiness up by hiding your true self from those who are desperately searching for that unique person that can be found in you.

Doing Business with You

This is true of business relationships as well.  If you pretend to be Christian to court a partnership with a Christian, hell-fire and brimstone may one day rain down upon your business.  You’ll be watching the smoldering heap and wondering how it ever happened.  Everything said in the personal section above applies to business relationships as well.  Your long-lasting and quality business relationships are going to be with partners who aren’t offended by who or what you are.

The Human B.S. Detector

Aside from all that, people are pretty good at sniffing out phonies.  They may not know exactly what part of you is the source of the odor, but their B.S. detector is most likely going off when they are around you.  If you think about it you will realize that you see it in other people.  Why do you expect they wouldn’t see it in you?  If you want to gain the trust that is crucial to both personal and professional happiness and success, you need to display your authentic self at all times.  Those who don’t like it can go somewhere else.  You don’t want them in your life anyway.

The appeal of the Unique

I admit it.  I’m a very strange person.  People love me or hate me.  There are plenty that love me so I couldn’t care less about the others.  They can go somewhere else.  When you act like everyone else you have a lot of competition.   You are just another gray mass floating in a sea of gray.  To be noticed you have to display that which is uniquely you.  Many years ago a wise man named Harry Browne wrote that you have a natural monopoly over yourself.  You have zero competition in the market for you.  Advertise it with pride.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Clement @ March 9, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Great article – very appropriate for internet marketers.

It’s all about that bs detector – you can’t sell if you’re not being completely transparent – and I mean completely! It doesn’t mean you have to tell people EVERYTHING but it does mean that you can’t lie.

Thanks Stephen,

Clément Yeung


Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills March 9, 2009 at 10:01 pm

Great post Stephen, I really appreciate how transparent you are when you write. If you ever had a tendency to fake yourself you seem to have gotten completely over it. Your sense of honesty comes through loud and clear and that, my friend, is a true asset.


Stephen - Rat Race Trap March 9, 2009 at 10:10 pm

@Clement, yes but you should tell people what is important about you. I don’t mean that you should go on the Internet and start advertising your past sins, especially when they have nothing to do with who you are now. But beware of even false advertising by omission. It is not in our long-term interests. The beauty of the Internet and this connected world we now live in, is that no matter how quirky you are, there are people out there who will accept you for who you are.


Stephen - Rat Race Trap March 9, 2009 at 10:12 pm

@Jonathan, thanks for the comments. I am very transparent. Some people don’t like what they see. But, I think it makes for a better way in the long-term. The world is a big place and there is room for everyone. We can choose who we do business with or who we play with. Isn’t that wonderful?


Jim DeSantis March 9, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Much of what you have written is true. One cannot be fraudulent but one can “fake it until you make it.”

There was a high school dropout who was a factory worker when an opportunity to become a radio newsman was placed in front of him.

As a youngster he had a dream of being a radio announcer but gave up because he did not have the “education” required.

When the opportunity arose he was determined to make his dream come true and, with hard work and pretending he was an announcer, he was hired at a local radio station 9 months later.

How did he fake it? No one ever found out he was a high school dropout because he “acted” like a professionally trained journalist. He learned the trade and became what he pretended to be.

He went on to win journalism awards and become a respected TV News Anchor and News Director. He hired and fired college educated journalists.

Think I am making this up? It was me! See my profile on my blog.

I believe that anything is possible with enough determination.

Jim DeSantis


Derek March 9, 2009 at 10:23 pm

A wise man once described to me his philosophy on authenticity as “Why would I try to be a half-assed replica when I am already a wonderful original?”

I strive to be authentic, to always be one consistent representation of myself, especially in the situations where I have the strongest tendencies to follow the herd.

Thanks for the post.

Derek @ NüHabits
(and in the sake of transparency, yes, my putting “@ NüHabits” above was done in a not-so-subtle hope that you will go there and register. 😉


Stephen - Rat Race Trap March 9, 2009 at 10:51 pm

@Jim, I agree with you to some extent. My don’t fake yourself theme is not around a dream or a goal or a desire. In this context “faking it” would be pretending you were a radio announcer and pretending that was your dream job and so forth when in fact you were NOT interested in being a radio announcer. Obviously someone who’s dream is to be a radio announcer is not “faking it” in the context of this article.

Here is the context of my post:

“We are under some misguided belief that hiding certain parts of who we are will lead others to accept us more readily. We believe that if we wear that socially acceptable mask, that somehow we will be happier.”

I have some issues with the honesty but I don’t want to judge the details before I know them.

@Derek, I love the wise man!!!


Marj Galangco March 10, 2009 at 6:34 pm

This is a very important message, indeed.
The person you are going to hurt the most when you are not being authentic is YOU, but do not be mistaken in believing that it is only you who will be affected.
We are all connected. Think of the us as being part of one big “puzzle”. When you claim who you really are and take your rightful place, you then create the space for millions of other people who would never have found their place in the world if you haven’t found yours!
Can you see the catastrophic repercussions of betraying who you really are? You are doing the world a great disservice by NOT being yourself.
So go ahead and be the most fabulous, magnificent, outrageous, amazing, unique version of… YOU!
The whole world depends on it 😉


Stephen - Rat Race Trap March 10, 2009 at 7:11 pm

@Marj, the power of less in words: Beautifully said!


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