“Just be yourself” is probably one of the most overrated advice you have heard your entire life. From the moment you started school and learn to socialize with other people, to preparing for your first date or meeting your significant other’s family for the first time. But what does it really mean to be ourselves?
In a world where being judged by almost everyone is the norm, being one’s self is getting more and more confusing. Are you acting according to your desire to please the people that matter to you, or are you acting according to your own philosophy and standards, even if they are against what we identify as conventional?
How do you know if you are truly being you?
How to tell if you aren’t?
If you want to be yourself, you have to first know yourself. In everything that you think, say, and do, it’s important to have self-awareness.
“The biggest challenge in life is to be yourself in world trying to make you like everyone else.”
Self-awareness is being aware of who you are and what you are doing. It is being mindful of your intentions and purpose of doing things. Being self-aware means being curious of yourself and conscious of your thoughts and how you act on them. Having self-awareness also means being aware of your personal traits.
What are your personality traits?
A person is made up of different personality traits. Each of us has a unique combination of both good and bad traits — our strengths and weaknesses. To know yourself, it’s necessary to figure out which traits define you.
You should identify the characteristics that define you, according to your own terms, and try to see yourself in a balanced, objective way.
Being objective when it comes to evaluating yourself is being unbiased in your thoughts. Are you accepting the truth about yourself, both the bright and dark corners alike?
Understand how your mind works
Understanding how your mind works and what makes it unique is another important factor that lets you know yourself better. When you understand your mind, you will know why you respond to certain situations the way you do. You will also know if you are being consistent to your authentic self.
Having consistency means you are living your life according to your own values and principles, both alone and in the company of others.
But the mind can be very confusing sometimes.
In his book “The Mind Manual”, Andy Gibson wrote about how a person’s mind can have conflicting thoughts, which is the reason why a human being is capable of doing something he or she doesn’t mean to do.
This doesn’t always mean we lack consistency. This is only because the human mind is believed to have two distinct types of thought. One, the usual first, instinctive response. And two, the second, more thoughtful response.
The First Response
The first response is usually quick and instinctive. It is the part of your mind that reacts to your environment depending on the urgency of a certain situation. This is the fight-or-flight response. Your emotions, past experiences, and physical environment play a vital role on how your brain reacts.
Most of your first responses come naturally, because this is the part of your brain that works on instinct. Like drinking when you’re thirsty and going to the loo when nature calls you. It is the part of your mind that deals with common situations that don’t necessarily need deep thinking. But it is also the kind of response that deals with uncommon situations — like reacting to threats. First responses are often essential.
The Second Response
The second response is slower and more thoughtful. This is when you put more conscious thinking before you actually do something. This part of the mind thinks through things more deeply — analyzing situations and creating a list of more logical options before you actually react. This kind of response takes time and it needs more energy to concentrate.
Both your first and second responses can be an opportunity to either stay true to yourself — to the values you uphold and the philosophy you believe in — or to act according to what pleases others even if it is not in line with your true being.
What’s your comfort zone?
Knowing what’s your comfort zone is essential in figuring out the real you. Your comfort zone is a space where you keep yourself, as the word implies, comfortable.
This is like a room with surrounding invisible walls of protection. However, the walls are actually just an illusion. The moment you try to step a toe out of line means an increased risk and this may cause possible anxiety.
Your comfort zone is an important space. There is value in your comfort zone that you should not underestimate. This is why being able to identify what your comfort zone is, is a crucial aspect in knowing yourself. By knowing what you are comfortable with and what you are not, it would be easier for you to find out how much risk you are willing to take when it’s time to get out of that protected space.
Knowing what your comfort zone is allows you to be true to what you are and how you feel. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you should stay there.
The Desire to Please
The desire to please is almost second nature to being human. As human beings, it’s normal to crave for external validation. Little children long to make their parents proud. Most teenagers want to fit in and be accepted by their peers. Many adults thirst to belong to society’s standards.
Having a desire to please the people that matter to you — to make them happy and proud of you — is not wrong. But forgetting yourself in the process is.
Often, we tend to be so engaged in making ourselves acceptable and pleasing to others that we forget what is acceptable to our own standards and pleasing to our own principles. We are used to compromising what staying true to ourselves really means to us that we then find it difficult to value our own individuality.
While it’s all right to want to please others, do not allow that desire to get in the way of honoring your authenticity.
There will be people who will doubt you. Some will question or belittle your choices. Others will keep comparing who you are now to who you were before. Some will compare you to other people. And worse, others will shove their perception of who they think you should be down your throat.
Never mind these people. Just focus on your personal growth and improvement, and as long as you are not stepping on anyone’s right, stay true to who you are and continue to pursue who you want to become.
Being Yourself & Keep Evolving
Growth is essential.
Change is inevitable.
Your characteristics and personality traits are NOT set in stone. Do not focus on the past. Let go of your old self — of what you were, or of what you thought you were. Be yourself as you are now. And while you grow and evolve into life, you may also realize that you grow and evolve into a different individual. And that’s okay.
Just flow with the changes that you allow yourself to go through.
Change doesn’t mean you are not being true to yourself. Sometimes, the change is actually just another necessary process of revealing your true identity to the world. Just like a caterpillar evolving into a beautiful butterfly, allow yourself to transform and evolve into your true, full-bloom you.