I just spoke with a friend who lives in my house. She moved to the US from India a while back.
Because of that, she pronounces some words differently, so that sometimes people don’t understand her.
Here’s where we come to one of these interesting “peeks under the hood” of people’s inner workings.
She’s 1) SUPER motivated to be understood and to be successful in the US. But 2) Not very interested in changing her pronunciation.
I got flustered. To me, those two views don’t go together. So, I poked around until she said:
“But if I start changing my accent, won’t I lose who I am?”
BAM! How could I forget? This is one of the biggest objections our readers have before they decide to take the leap.
So, I told her what I tell our participants:
We change all the time. You speak in one way with grandma and another way with your friends. This doesn’t make you fake, quite the opposite: One of the things that make us human is our ability to adapt and improve. It’s not shallow, it’s beautiful.
I told her about the two things that we DON’T want to change: Our beliefs and our values. (Even they change over the years, but we shouldn’t change them to fit in).
Then there are manners – like how we act, energy level, accent, topics we talk about. As long as they don’t go against our beliefs and values, we can adapt them to any situation we’re in.
What she did after I told her this surprised even me. She started practicing my pronunciation and asked me to critique it. (Yeah yeah I know, my pronunciation is also a work in progress). It was like she had always been motivated to improve, and now that the final objection was out of the way, nothing held her back.
Changing how you act won’t make you lose who you are. As long as you act in accordance with your values and beliefs, you will always be you. It’s a powerful realization, but sometimes I forget HOW powerful it is.
Read more: How to be yourself in social settings.
Have you ever kept from self-improvement because you’ve been afraid to lose who you are?
Let me know in the comments!