“You have no need to travel anywhere. Journey within yourself, enter a mine of rubies and bathe in the splendor of your own light.” ~ Rumi
There’s a lot of talk these days about what it means to “be yourself.” There’s advice everywhere. You’ll hear it from people in your life, on the internet, in self-help books and so on. It’s a great advice, but it’s also a bit vague.
What does being yourself mean? How do you know when you’ve actually achieved it? And how do you know if you’re not yet being yourself? Does it mean you were yourself, before society told you who you should be?
Most of us are defined by the professions we choose, it’s like each one of us comes with a set of pre-defined qualities which are attached to a profession – for example, a doctor, we often think a doctor must be a trustworthy and a compassionate person, but the fact of the matter is that not all of them have these characteristics.
“What we call the personality is often a jumble of genuine traits and adopted coping styles that do not reflect our true self at all, but the loss of it.” ~ Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
Being yourself is something that everyone struggles with from time to time — no matter who they are or where they come from.
Being your authentic self can lead to more fulfillment and satisfaction in your life, but it might not make you enough money (just kidding). You have a strong connection with the present moment and feel energized throughout the day. You are in touch with your emotions and can express them without fear or guilt. You radiate confidence and feel comfortable in your own skin. You can let go of your worries, relax and enjoy life because you know everything will be okay. The only way to be yourself is to find yourself.
So, how do you get there? What does it take to be yourself? Here are 6 ways to be yourself
Find your passion and go for it!
“Your real self may be hiding somewhere, look for it within, when you find yourself, you can freely be what you want to be.” ~ Michael Bassey Johnson
If there’s one thing that being true to yourself requires, it’s finding your passion. You know what makes your heart sing and what gives you a feeling like none other. That is what defines who you are and where your direction lies.
Step out of your comfort zone, go some place new and try something different. Open yourself up to new experiences.You’ll know when you’ve hit the jackpot because you’ll feel energized and excited.
Don’t feel obligated to fit in
“People who fit in or blend in are generally not as strong or resilient as those who don’t care about fitting in,” says clinical psychologist Dr. Barbara Greenberg to Business Insider. “If they don’t care what other people think, they often have a more developed sense of self.”
When you were younger, it was normal to want to be accepted by your peers and feel like you belonged. I often see my older son getting influenced by others, wanting the same toys as his friends, wanting to listen to the same songs as his friends and sometimes also getting influenced by his friends in a not so good way, it’s all too easy at that age to give in to peer pressure. I become the moral police, telling him that if others are doing it, it doesn’t make it right.
Feeling obligated to fit in can translate later on in life as feeling like you need to change your opinions or beliefs, or avoid speaking up for fear of being rejected by others. You end up feeling empty and lost, like you’ve given away pieces of your true self just to be accepted by another person or even a group of people. And that leaves you unable to connect with who you really are deep down inside… your core values, beliefs and desires.
Become aware of your emotions. Get comfortable with solitude where you can have regular conversations with yourself. Be unapologetically you because that’s what makes you awesome and unique.
Be Vulnerable – Perfection doesn’t exist
“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” ~ Aldous Huxley
You are flawed and full of imperfections. You have to make mistakes in order to learn and grow from them. You have to fail in order to succeed – this is the law of nature.
When you stop trying to be perfect, you will be surprised by how good life can actually be. If you can look at yourself each day and say “I like who I am” then you are being yourself and that’s all that matters. The more vulnerable we are, the more people will connect with us on a deeper level. When we show our real selves, we give others permission to do the same.
Let go of your baggage
Baggage can be anything that’s holding you back and keeping you from being your true self. Maybe it’s a toxic relationship, childhood trauma or an unhealthy habit or negative self-talk. Whatever it is, identify what is keeping you from being who you want to be and let go of it.
We tend to let these things control us and shape our perception of ourselves. How do you change that? How do you break free of what holds you back?
You have to let go of your baggage. You can’t move forward if you’re constantly looking in the rearview mirror. Your baggage is just that — something you should leave behind. Make a conscious effort to leave the past in the past, to not let it dictate your future any more.
For me the biggest baggage has been related to my childhood, the lack of affection as a child or clinging nature of my mother, it is very difficult no doubt, to keep all that behind, but I have realised how those feelings and thoughts hold me back like a leech sucking the life out of me. The only way is to forgive those who have wronged you (including yourself), and move on.
“The truth is unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” ~ Steve Maraboli
Surround yourself with people who love and support you for who you are
Stay away from the people and things that bring you down. Surround yourself with people who love and support you, and the easier it will be to stay true to yourself. This is particularly useful when you’re going through change or a difficult time, because having this kind of support network will help keep you focused on your values.
Live your life like a child
When children are born into this world, they are themselves. They are who they are meant to be, and they live their lives as such. Children have no filters on who they are, no shame or fear of being judged – they just are who they are.
They just say what is on their minds and feel what there is to feel, without a care in the world. But over time, we lose that part of ourselves. We become encumbered by society’s opinions and expectations, and we try to fit those molds instead of being ourselves.
It’s funny that we have to get older to learn this and be ourselves. We start limiting ourselves by our previous experiences and by what happens around us. This is why children are more open-minded than adults!
Our soon-to-be 6-year-old son, has been asking us a lot of questions – “why is it like this, why like that”. I feel it’s not only a question about the answer, but also about himself. He wants to know more about the world around him, but even more importantly, he wants to know more about himself.
How would our lives change if we started asking ourselves why again? How would our lives change if, instead of waiting for someone else to make us happy, we asked ourselves what made us happy in the first place?
Allow yourself to be free more often — free of the burdens of responsibility, free of the need to impress others, free of judgment by others. Just writing this gave me a sense of freedom, a sense of “ahhh, I am free” (even if it lasted for a few seconds).
Being yourself is a lifelong journey. You are developing a relationship with yourself. A self-awareness which will begin to appear in your everyday life, when faced with various challenges that life presents. Facing these challenges, you will realise they are part of the growth process. The ultimate goal is to not only find your true self, but also to be yourself at all times. Like Henry David Thoreau said, “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ~ Oscar Wilde