Too often we find ourselves hiding behind a mask, and living according to society's standards and limitations. When we live as we are, instead of as who we think we should be, we are living authentically. To put it simply, we are being ourselves.
But being yourself can be scary. There is a risk of being rejected. However, learning to be as you are is essential to personal growth and development. And, according to one recent study, being yourself is imperative for a productive day's work, too.
Appearing in an issue of Journal of Business and Psychology, the study, "Stigma Expression Outcomes and Boundary Conditions: A Meta-Analysis," revealed what happens after some people disclose a stigmatized identity. Examples of these stigmatized identities include: mental illness, physical disability, or sexual orientation.
When workers disclosed their non-visible stigmas (like sexual orientation or certain health problems), the experience of self-disclosure led to better work connections and relationships, and study participants also found themselves having fewer unwanted thoughts. Workers also reported decreased job anxiety, increased commitment to their role, as well as improved job satisfaction.
Further, outside of their jobs, these very same workers experienced "decreased psychological stress and increased satisfaction with their lives."
It should be noted that according to the study, self-disclosing visible stigmas like race or gender was "less impactful." Those who disclose visible traits will not receive the same results as those who disclose non-visible identities.
As Rice University professor Eden King details, people might actually "react negatively to those who express or call attention to stigmas that are clearly visible to others...this may be seen as a form of advocacy or heightened pride in one's identity."
It is clear that there is more that we can learn about disclosing stigmatized identities, and how we are affected by sharing the parts we hide about ourselves. The decision to express the traits that not everyone knows can be highly complicated. But if we live more openly at work, we do have a greater chance to live happier, more productive lives.