Everywhere you go nowadays, you hear that people want to be themselves. It is the best we can ‘do’. It is the key to our success. Something like: today I stop smoking or start running. Is it that simple? Being yourself, it sounds so good, but is it that simple?
What does it actually mean to “be yourself”?
Being yourself sounds luring. People indicate that they can be themselves in a very familiar environment, for example with a best friend or with family. They are not concerned with what their environment thinks of them. They do not put any energy into the constant scanning of reactions, verbally or non-verbally, consciously or unconsciously. They do not worry about being accepted. No, they assume acceptance. Primarily the acceptance of itself.
Can you do it?
If you think about it for a moment, it is actually a very strange idea that you think you can be someone else. You can copy a lot, and as an actor you are expected to get as close as possible to the one you are playing. But to completely being another person is of course not possible. So you can not be yourself.
Why is not yourself always nice?
We often doubt ourselves and we are uncertain. For example, positive reactions from the environment do not occur. Your feelings, thoughts and actions constantly lead to a judgment: ‘I am doing well’, or ‘I am not doing well’, ‘I am ok’ or ‘I am not ok’. You do not experience the obvious acceptance, such as with that special friend or girlfriend. At such a moment it is your own job to feel comfortable in what you do and who you are. It can then be tempting to start showing that you are looking away from someone else, behavior that is less close to you. In the hope or the unconscious expectation that you will reap positive reactions and get confirmation. That costs effort and energy, usually more than it will yield you.
“Acceptance” is fine! Being yourself does not have to deal with your environment in the first instance. It is an attitude towards yourself, an ‘agreement’ with yourself that is called acceptance. But it is an appointment at the level where you decide to stop smoking or to go running. It is the result of a process, a process called ‘life’. In this you are always busy with the processing of things that you touch in dealing with something or with someone.
Being touched is the key to being yourself
Where you are touched, you can become aware of who you are and why you let yourself be touched. When that becomes clear, you (often old) experience pain or sadness. With that, it disappears and you back a little more with judgments about yourself (and thus also about another person).
Processing things is nice. It literally makes you lighter and that is what you experience: lightness, openness and being present in a part of you where you first hid. Then that part of you may be there and you are more yourself with that.
The time is ripe to be ourselves
Yes, we can become more and more ourselves. The time is now. Fine, but you can not do anything else. So do not make a sacred of this. You are as you are with all the things in you that you have to deal with and to learn about yourself. That is what life is meant for. So instead of adding another ‘to do’ to your list for 2017, you better keep the following in mind:
Realize that you change, copy behavior and hide yourself are ways to protect yourself. In that respect you function very well! You are worth protecting.
Know that life is meant to be touched so that you slowly (and sometimes quickly) but certainly when the time is right experience which part of you is ready for processing and wants to come out. Keep confirming yourself in what you do. That’s who you are! And then research why you do it so that you get to know and accept yourself from the inside out. Then you immediately experience how your contact with your environment changes.