“Be congruent. Be authentic. Be your true self.” Gandhi
Just Be Yourself. It sounds simple, sweet, grounding and reassuring. Right? But what does it mean to be yourself? How can you be anyone but yourself when you possess one mind, one body, and if you choose to believe (as I do), one unique beautiful soul?
But are we really meant to be ourselves, all of the time? What about on a first date? A job interview? When you have a meeting with an intimidating manager or client, or lunch with your in-laws?
Being yourself can get confusing—and it’s not always possible.
Children age two to five, live authentically, seldom afraid or embarrassed to seek out what they want or to speak their minds, unless they have been taught to fear or feel embarrassed to speak their truth. Unfortunately, as children grow older, adults tend to instruct children to tuck that authenticity away, putting it aside and adapt to what is considered ‘normal‘ in society.
Being true to (the best version of) yourself is not a onetime event. It is a constant decision you make every day, or even every hour. Sometimes you make good decisions. Sometimes you learn. Sometimes you are true to yourself. Sometimes you betray your true self.
Let’s start by defining what it’s like not being true to yourself. If you can relate to these, then think about other similar behaviours you exhibit that are clear signs you are not being true to yourself.
- Laughing at something that’s not funny just to be polite
- Complimenting someone when you don’t mean it
- Lying about something just to please others
- Acting happy when you are miserable, or vice versa, among others
- Hiding your true opinion for the sake of popularity
- Forcing yourself to do things you don’t like, saying things you don’t mean, and going places you don’t care to go, in a relationship
Lying isn’t you. Pretending is not you either. Making up nonsense and hiding your true self, none of that is you. These are not stuff that makes up your identity. Your true self is made up of beautiful qualities. You can choose to shine a light on them, or hide them, but you are made of good stuff regardless.
I have identified six vital elements necessary for establishing and maintaining your connection with your true and authentic self.
- Internal alignment.The absence of internal conflict is the only way to be at peace with our true self. Any misalignment between our life and our core standards will prevent us from being totally honest with ourselves. To be yourself means that you need to identify your core standards and align with them.
- Know your personal values.We all have a built in set of personal values. If we lose touch with those values we lose touch with our true self. When we violate those values we violate our relationship with the person that we really are. To truly be yourself, it is vital that youidentify those values and make every effort to live by them.
- Pick your pain and pleasure paradigms.As humans we are programmed to move away from pain and toward pleasure. To feel good about our pursuits and goals they need to represent some form of pleasure. To avoid the things that are out of alignment with our core standards and personal values, they need to represent pain on some level. If you properly assign these pain and pleasure paradigms they will fully support your natural tendency to be yourself.
- Choose your passions carefully. You might think that you have very little control over your passions, but nothing could be further from the truth. To make sure that our passions align with our true self they need to be in harmony with our values and standards. Passions are easily influenced by what we think about and what we take in through our five senses. These are all within your control.
- Adjust your response patterns.How we respond to the many situations and circumstances in our lives will determine how the world around us responds to us. Most people just react to external stimuli. How much more appropriate it is to respond in a way that supports our values and reinforces our sense of self honesty. If someone pushes your buttons and you just react, then they were the ones controlling you. To be yourself you need to consciously choose your response.
- Cultivate positive beliefs about yourself.Being yourself is very difficult if you believe that you are worthless, which of course isn’t true. Make it a habit to cultivate positive feelings about yourself as a person. Commend yourself for all the wonderful ways you contribute to the world around you. If you give yourself the approval you deserve then your identity won’t depend on approval from outside sources.
We are all unique and we all make a valuable contribution. Once you accept that it becomes much easier to connect with your true self and to feel comfortable being you. There will always be external influences trying to blur the line between who you are and who they want you to be. But if you follow these six suggestions, you will always know who you are.
Being true to yourself is what your heart and soul yearn for. Being true to yourself is the only way to achieve inner peace. Being true to yourself sets you free and floods you with joy and happiness.
Simply B U…