Reblogged from here (I do have stuff to write about, but this felt plenty eloquent to me & I wanted to share it. Love, Helen)
How much of yourself are you? Do you feel like you are surrounded by people with whom you can be yourself? When’s the last moment when you feel that you were yourself? ….
I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of being yourself versus not being yourself. I know that’s a bit silly. You are who you are and therefore, you are yourself, correct?
Maybe. In life, no one ever comes out and directly says to you: “Don’t Be Yourself.” But I feel it’s a message that we receive every day, not just from others but also from ourselves. Many choices we make in life support the concept of “don’t be yourself” because, in many ways, we begin to think that we’re not good enough. That we are lacking. And to overcome the lack and to increase our worth, we must make up the perceived deficit by pretending and acting like we are someone other than who we really are.
When we choose not to be ourselves, we think we are gaining. Gaining approval and accolades from others. Gaining respect. Gaining the worth that we think we need to fill up the empty space inside us that results from not being ourselves. But do we really gain?
I think no. I think we lose. I think of times when I stopped laughing so that it wouldn’t seem like I was out of line, when I stopped crying because I didn’t want my tears to be a bother to anyone, when I stopped choosing what I loved in order to take steps up a ladder that maybe I never really wanted to climb. When you choose to be yourself, you have to choose to be okay with being yourself. You have to choose yourself over and over again. It can feel vulnerable to be yourself, and re-open the door to what other people think about you (what people like about you can take you just as much away from your real self as what they dislike about you.)
I’ve been practicing being myself more often. Choosing howI am more often over how I am not. Being more aware of when I make either choice, and how it feels when I choose one way over the other. When I choose myself, it feels good, and that’s a good incentive to keep trying it out. I am comforted by the idea that by being who I am, I will attract all the people into my life who love me for me, not for who they do or don’t want me to be.
In my imaginative, creative, romanticized world, I have a lot of ideals and philosophy. I also have a bit of reality mixed in there, and I know that it’s probably within the reality that messages like this one connect. It’s easy for me to say….”just be yourself,” but I know that years of choosing otherwise might make that a difficult starting point. What if you don’t even know who you are? What if you’ve shifted into neutral for so long that you don’t know what it means?
I recently shared a quote with a friend that said: “do what brings you more joy,” and he laughed and said, “easier said than done, what if I don’t know what brings me joy in the first place?” So, here are some possible starting points for you.
- First, think about who you were as a child and what you really loved to do.
- Second, think about the last time you felt a bit of positive emotion in your life and see if you can reconnect to what it was that generated that feeling for you.
- Third, just start listening to yourself. The signals may be hard to pick up on at first but the more you listen, the more you’ll start to feel…oh, I like this, oh I love this, oh, I want more of this.
- Fourth, give in just once in a while. Laugh when you want to laugh, sing when you want to sing, cry when you want to cry.
Just be yourself.