How Can You Be Even More True to Yourself?

Every so often, I enter into a situation where I’m unsure of myself. I encountered this just last week. The organizers and panelists on a large Zoom call had created working agreements. We spoke according to those agreements. And we knew that a couple of people were going to join late, an hour into the two-hour session.

When they joined the call, one of them violated those agreements. Did they even know about our agreements? Who knows?

I became angry as I saw what had been a collegial discussion aimed at the future dissolve into one person’s reminiscing of the past.

I should tell you—I rarely like participating in large panel discussions about anything. That’s because, in my experience, too many people see these panels as a way to hawk their wares. Not to explore potential or disagree collegially, but to sell their consulting or books.

That selfishness angers me. Our job as panelists is to engage people and provoke a few thoughts. (If we do a great job, we sell ourselves and our books.)

Right then and there, I decided to be true to myself:

  • Did I want to fit into this situation and make the best of it? No.
  • Could I stay here and not show my anger? No.
  • Given the time constraints and the facilitators’ inability to manage this person, what did I want to do? I decided to leave.

That’s what I did. I wished everyone a great conversation and left the Zoom.

I couldn’t be true to myself and tolerate the late panelist’s behavior.

Similarly, I don’t tolerate “jokes” that discuss someone’s gender, race, politics, or anything else that offends, masquerading as humor.

How Can You Be True to Yourself?

I wish I could tell you I know how to be true to myself all the time. Nope. Not at all. I often discover when I need to be true to myself when I feel emotionally off-balance. That’s when I realize I’m asking these questions:

  • How can I fit into this situation?
  • Do I need to recalibrate my expectations of myself?
  • What outcomes do I now expect from this experience?

You might have other questions when you feel that pull of not being true to yourself.

My anger shows up in various ways. Often—too often—I become nasty. Then, my extrovert-ness takes over. Normally, I can think before I talk. When I’m angry? My barely-there filter evaporates. The nastiness pours out of my brain before I have a chance to stop it.

While my nasty streak is part of me, I prefer to suppress that nastiness as much as possible. That means I need to act to change the situation. I need to create more choices. That’s why I decided to leave the call.

Could I tolerate his behavior? Maybe. However, I decided to be true to my beliefs and expectations.

In the past, I would have tried to shoulder the facilitators’ responsibilities. Not anymore. I am responsible for my actions and words—not anyone else’s.

I have worked hard to learn how to be true to myself, even in situations where I might help others.

That’s because I have learned I need to take care of myself before taking care of others.


I hope the questions above fit for you. If not, which questions do you ask when you want to be true to yourself, and you feel conflict? Let me know.


You might enjoy some of my online workshops:

And, the big announcement: ​The Modern Management Made Easy books are done and out everywhere. Yay!

Read More of Create an Adaptable Life

If you only read the newsletter, I hope you also read the blog where I write a question of the week each week. Here are other links you might find useful:

Till next time, Johanna

© 2021 Johanna Rothman

P.S. Up until now, I’ve put the newsletters only into the newsletter posts. I’m changing that. I’m still emailing the newsletter. However, I’m also putting the newsletters into regular posts on the blog.

2 thoughts on “How Can You Be Even More True to Yourself?”

  1. I really enjoyed this article Johanna. The two words that occurred to me after reading it were courage and honesty – the courage to be honest about who you really are and what you needed to do to be true to yourself, and the courage to reveal your honest self to others even though it might ruffle some feathers. I can’t tell you the number of meetings I’ve been in where I wish I’d done what you did!

    I gets trickier though when it’s your manager who behaves like your late arrival – leaving the call might have some nasty repercussions…

    1. John, thanks. When it’s your manager who does this? I’ve used this kind of feedback. After the call, because I don’t feel right embarrassing anyone, certainly not a manager.

      “You might not realize this. When you arrive late, and we’ve already started the discussion, you change the entire tenor and tone of the discussion. That means we can’t decide for ourselves.” I often pause here for acknowledgment. Then I continue: “I would like you to either tell us you don’t need to decide with us. Or, to postpone the meeting until you can be there. Or, for you to come to the meeting on time. Which of those three options work for you?”

      Then wait. The manager might not realize what’s going on. I actually address this specific issue in Practical Ways to Manage Yourself. I don’t see how to suggest the manager buy the book :-)

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