Why It's So Hard to be Yourself
The vast majority of your thoughts and emotions are conditioned by your environment and past experiences.
That's why you have the same successes over and over - you drive mostly without crashes and eat without choking. It's also why you make the same mistakes over and over, such as not listening to your spouse or yelling at your children.
You cannot be yourself if you are merely reactive to your environment. (If you react to a jerk like a jerk, what does that make you?) The habit of reactaholism keeps you a slave to your past experiences.
Conditioned emotional response is geared toward ego defense.
Males in our culture spend lots of emotional energy trying to avoid shame and failure. A large ego is our principle defense against shame and failure. To the extent that you try to cover up your vulnerability to shame, instead of healing it, you cannot be true to yourself.
Women in our culture spend an equal amount of emotional energy trying to avoid anxiety, especially about harm, isolation, and deprivation. Their ego defense tends to cluster around success in relationships with family, friends, and acquaintances, sometimes obscuring their deepest values in the process.
Blame wastes emotional energy on resentment and anger. More important, it defeats the purpose of uncomfortable emotions, which is to motivate behavior that will heal and improve. Blame makes you powerless to heal and improve. The ability to heal and improve is your true nature.
Our Dual Nature
We are born with an angel-nature that wants to care, love, and help. As we are hurt in life, we begin to develop a vampire nature that wants to control, dominate, or prey on others. If you do not choose which to develop and identify with, your environment and past experiences will choose for you.
Alienation from Our Deepest Values
You cannot be yourself unless you are true to the most important things to and about you as a person. These will not be preferences or ego gratifications. (You would not want on your tombstone: "She liked fine wine," or "Here lies an incredible ego.") The most important things to and about you as a person are your deepest values.