The False Self Series, Part 10: Tension and Stress

I recently listened to an Emotional Healthy Leader Podcast episode by Pete Scazzero (The September 6 episode, Silencing the Seductive Voice of Your False Self) that greatly impacted me. In the episode, Pete said, “one of the most destructive temptations leaders face is living and leading from the veneer of the false self.” He then listed ten examples of how this can happen. 

These examples made sense to me — and I think they’ll resonate with you too. In the upcoming weeks, I’ll talk about all ten. I am doing this because overcoming the false self is the best way to head into 2023. Leadership is about doing things with and through other people, so leading yourself past your false self is step one to leading effectively.

The False Self Series, Part 10: Tension and Stress

My goal in writing this series has been to help leaders connect with their authentic selves. After all, people want to follow real people — the kinds of people who don’t hide their flaws, can take criticism, and can forgive others. 

The Result of Living From Our False Self

To date, I have shared nine ways people live from the false self. Today, we turn to part 10, which is what happens when we live from our false selves. We feel tension and stress in our bodies rather than feeling relaxed. How so? 

  • Tension is, according to Merriman-Webster, an inner striving, unrest, or imbalance. 
  • Stress is, according to the World Health Organization, any type of change that causes physical, emotional, or psychological strain. 

These definitions point to the reality of living from the false self as we become imbalanced, strained, and tired. We intuitively know, because we can feel it deep inside ourselves, that it is not the way to live. 

Living Authentically: You Have Nothing to Prove

If you have followed this series, I make no claims that living from the real self is easy. There are no claims that following any of the principles will lead to any kind of success either. Life is hard. 

The goal of this series has been to help you live authentically so that WHEN (not if!) bad things happen, you can deal with it to the best of your ability. In other words, your first reaction to bad news won’t be born from insecurity, e.g., “Oh no, I’m about to be found out — they’re going to see past my facade!” Your next reaction won’t be to overcompensate for this facade either. You won’t have to power up, defend your reputation, or prove your worth. In fact, you won’t have to prove anything. 



You can honestly assess your own strengths and weaknesses. 

You no longer look for approval from others. 

You no longer have to defend yourself. 

You no longer are harsh. 

You no longer say yes when you want to say no. 

You no longer beat yourself up about the past. 

You no longer have trouble speaking up. 

You no longer have trouble forgiving others. 

You no longer allow fears to cause you to play it safe. 

This leads to you being you. 

Take a deep breath in. 

Feel the relaxation? 

Now the fun part comes as you get to live from your real self. And that means you can tackle the day’s problems from this perspective. Issues of all kinds will still arise, but you’ll be able to handle them in a way that others will appreciate, respect, and follow. 

From this vantage point, the work can, finally, truly begin. 

Leadership is doing things with and through other people. 

The greatest gift you can give those people is the real you. 

Now go share that person with the world.