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Being Your Authentic Self: What It Means and Why We Hide

April 22, 2023 at 8:30 am - 10:00 am PDT

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What does it mean to be our authentic self?  It's both a philosophical conundrum and a pain point in our own lived experience.  Humans long to be seen and loved as they are, and at the same time override their nature to be accepted by society.

Join Mariya Hoffman for this insightful discussion on what makes us feel most like ourselves and what makes us want to hide.

According to psychologist Michael Lewis, our separate, existential self develops at 2 months of age.  At this time, infants start to identify themselves as a separate object–as someone who experiences the world as a separate entity.  This is a time of pure experience.  We react to our environment with authentic emotions, feel things very deeply, and are very curious about our world.

Between 18 months and 3 years, we develop a “categorical self.”  We start to pay attention to categorical labels: tall, short, young, old, smart, not smart, nice, not nice.   In other words, we become aware of ourselves as an object of other people’s opinions.  We start to factor in where we fit in and how we compare to others.  We then start to incorporate how we are seen by others into our concept of self.  At that point, we have an incentive to override our authentic impulses and attempt to fit into social categories deemed as “good.”

This begs the question: What is our authentic self, really?  Is our authentic self the initial existential self, or does it include the values, categories, and judgments we later inherit from society and family?  Do we always need to hide parts of our existential self to fit into society?

Please join this conversation, as we tackle such fascinating questions as:

  • What is our authentic self?
  • Can we separate what parts are truly us and what parts are conditioned by society?
  • Can we draw a clear boundary between what we want and what is expected of us?
  • What happens when our obligations conflict with our inner needs?
  • Is there a point at which our attempts to fulfill obligations and be “good” lead to betrayal of our inner self?
  • If we were able to always be “true” to ourselves, are there adverse consequences we need to be aware of?
  • What role does culture play in internalizing obligations and social morality into an authentic self?


What is the ‘self’? The 3 layers of your identity

Aspects and Components of Self Concept


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April 22, 2023
8:30 am - 10:00 am PDT
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