“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Benefits of Being Unique
Unfortunately we often equate being different as a negative thing. It is easy to over-focus on how we differ from others and thinking of the negatives is a fairly natural response. However, constantly dwelling on the perceived negatives on how we differ from others is usually quite harmful to our mental health and well-being.
Instead, it is important to try and identify the positives of being different and focus our attention on these things. You might just notice a drastic difference in your outlook on life, as well as other potential benefits you may reap.
Benefits of being unique and different include:
- A true sense of authenticity and self
- Meaningful and lasting relationships
- Lower stress levels due to the reduced need to conform
- Fewer regrets
- Providing much needed inspiration to others to embrace what makes them unique
How Conformity Impacts Mental Health
While many things impact our mental health, pressure from others not just friends or family, but society in general can impact us negatively. The decisions we make daily are often influenced by those pressures. While we may not realise it, they can lead us down a path that may not be what we truly want for ourselves.
While culture, norms, and advice from others are extremely helpful at times, there can be downsides to not embracing what makes us unique and acting authentically. Feeling pressured to conform to a “traditional path” and to not embrace your individuality can lead to depression, anxiety, and increased stress.
So while you may wish to conform due to the perceived negative qualities of what makes you unique, doing so is less likely to lead us to a path of meaning and satisfaction. Rather, focussing on the positives of what makes you unique, self-determination and autonomy over your life based on who you are is critical for experiencing overall positive well-being.
While we should encourage increased individuality and self-expression, intense individualism may negatively impact your mental health due to the greater risk of isolation, loneliness, and alienation. So while we should embrace our individuality and uniqueness, maintaining social ties and connection with our relevant communities is important!
How to Determine your Own Individuality
While we are all required to conform in some way to be a member of society, we all have attributes which are unique to us that we simply need to identify and embrace. A few tips on how to do this include:
- Ask friends and family: Ask those closest to you why they like hanging out with you and what might set you apart from others. Ask them what your talents or gifts are, and how you meaningfully contribute to their lives.
- Write about what you love: Write down a list of things you have done in your life that have left you feeling happy, useful, or acting truly authentically? Sometimes such moments can be fleeting but dig deep, identify them, and make a conscious effort to bring them more into your life.
- Re-discover your inner child: What activities did you enjoy the most as a child? How would you pass the days and what activities truly excited you? As a child, maybe you loved Lego and perhaps there is a creative or constructive side of you that has been neglected.