Said no one, probably ever - but we've all heard it before... from granny knows best, to popular self-help gurus, to best-selling dating books who all tell us to "just be yourself".
But who exactly is this 'self' they speak of?
Does 'self' have different sides?
Does 'self' change or evolve?
Is 'self' subject to culture and environment?
What id 'self' is too submissive and agreeable?
What if 'self' isn't confident in its own skin?
What if self is needy and miserable?
What if 'self' is unpleasant to be around?
What if self is bitter and resentful?
I think we can quickly see how this well-meaning advice neglects the fact that 'self' is impossibly complex, ever-changing and can literally wear a different face depending on what day of the week you catch it on.
The point is 'just be yourself' is far too vague to have any real potency to it, and if you're not getting the results you want, perhaps 'self' needs to grow and evolve.
So why is this squidgy half-baked advice served up so often?
Perhaps it resonates with our need to be authentic and true to ourselves or perhaps it's just more palatable than the truth.
But humans are a complex ball of ever-changing thoughts, feelings, emotions and experiences. The tell-tell signs are often only apparent in those quiet moments of self-reflection when things in our life aren't going according to script.
We compare the reality of our lives with the idealistic brochure we have in our minds and despair when things don't match up. And when we go in search of answers we're told to 'just be ourselves' which really provides no substance and leaves us feeling strangely comforted and frustrated at the same time.
With so many others in the same boat, we can take comfort knowing that we're not the only slightly apathetic, occasionally miserable and somewhat unsatisfied individual in our predicament.
So What To Do About It?
Well as radical as it may seem, if 'being yourself' isn't getting you the results you want, change.
I'm not suggesting you pretend to be someone you're not but we are amazingly adaptable creatures capable of creating our own reality to a large extent.
I'm not talking about "new-age wishful thinking", I'm talking about looking at our lives, the decisions we've made and the reasons why we've made them and being honest about whether this is the best path for us to travel. If it is, that's great, but if it's not, something needs to change.
Being authentic is about being true to our principles and ideals. For me personally, it means being committed to becoming a better, more caring, and more considerate person who's able to do some good in the world.
I've come to this conclusion through a series of good, bad and ugly experiences and decisions that have helped to shape my views. If I'd answered that question five years ago, or even 12 months ago, the answer may have been different. Would that make it any less authentic?
Being authentic to me means being true to our values as we grow and evolve based on our goals and aspirations, which of course are different for everyone. Within this context "just be yourself' makes a lot more sense to me because we can acknowledge that 'self' is not some static unchanging entity which the world revolves around.
It's dynamic and we're constantly evolving whether we like it or not, whether we're conscious of it or not. The more aware of this we are, the better we can help guide and shape how we evolve as we go through life.
The problem is that many us of have an in-built aversion to the truth when it forces us to confront certain aspects of 'self' that make us uncomfortable.
We all make mistakes and we all need time to reflect, and hopefully the courage to address these issues. But this means admitting that we're not perfect and in fact, we all have the capacity to be annoying, selfish, narrow-minded, bigoted, prejudice, sexist, racist and a number of other things we'd prefer not to have to deal with.
It's not easy because 'self' has a natural inclination to protect itself. Which means it can be quite difficult to spot and that's why we need people around us who aren't afraid to tell us the truth.
"Just be yourself" is a comfortable platitude that allows us to remain in a fluffy ambiguous place that requires no hard truths or sharp edges.
The challenge is to realise that 'self' contains the good, the bad and the ugly and we need to be honest with our 'self' and address it head-on so that we may continue to evolve into the wonderful conscious beings of light we were designed to be!:)
Peace, love and great sex,
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