It’s easier said than done.
We grow up having people tell us to be more or less of ourselves.
And for many at a young age you follow the words of those older than you. That’s fine when it comes to things like eating a balanced diet, doing your homework and being kind to people.
But on the flip-side when you’re being told to what career path to pursue or who you should be, I think that’s a problem.
How are you ever going to figure out who you are and be yourself if you’re always listening to other people? Sure this person might mean well and think they’re being helpful but they could also be projecting.
You’ll get told not to pursue something creative because it’s risky, to get a job in a particular sector because it’s more stable, to dress in differently… the list goes on. But often this advice has nothing to do with your happiness or life goals, it’s about conformity, a lack of belief, other peoples discomfort or even control.
And if you listen to all these voices and follow along with what you’re told you slowly start being less and less yourself and therefore less happy.
It’s not much fun living your life as an actor and allowing everyone else to direct.
And so in order to ‘simply’ be yourself you have to let go of all that stuff and be okay with other people being frustrated that you won’t do what they say.
In exchange for that, you get to be you.
I think it’s important to get to know yourself. Not just on a surface level but right down deep to the core.
Not just your likes and dislikes but your beliefs and why you do the things you do.
Something I’ve always focused on is behaviour. When you find yourself doing and saying things or feeling like you are making a choice to act a certain way, if you take a step back you might come to realise that you’ve just been falling into a familiar habit loop over and over again.
That you’ve become so accustomed to your past behaviour that you turn to it whenever similar situations occur without actually considering if it’s the best way to respond.
So next time you’re about to get riled up or raise your voice ask yourself ‘Is this something I want to do or am I just doing it because it’s familiar?’
The answer might surprise you.
Just as ‘you’re not you when you’re hungry’ is the same way you’re not you when you’re worried.
A person that worries chronically may end up having sleep problems, self-harming and developing fidget habits like pulling at their hair.
Those kinds of behaviours often end up overshadowing a persons core self and then others fall into thinking that those things are who they are.
But when you remove worry from the equation you feel a sense of freedom. You have room to maneuver, you have room to be.
You’ll feel like a whole new you and begin experience life in a way that is so far from what you’re familiar with.
Life will feel easier or at least much more manageable but it’s not that you’ll never worry again. It’s that the worry will come and pass like the flow of water rather than being something that stays with you long term and ends up being debilitating and reducing your quality of life.
If you have a worry habit, the idea of being without it probably sounds like bliss (with a hint of fear because you’re so familiar with worrying it seems strange to think about being without it.
It might be hard to believe but it is possible to significantly reduce worry and not have it as such a dominant part of your identity, you just have to figure out how.
Who are you when you visit new places alone?
Who are you when you deliver a presentation?
Who are you when you’re under pressure with a deadline looming?
I think it’s important to go out and explore these things as a way to explore yourself. Sometimes mediation helps, looking inwards is great but don’t get so caught in those internal things that you don’t actually take action.
You don’t want to spend your life wondering about certain aspects of yourself that you never allowed yourself to experience.
From a young age we start to develop an identity, a sense of self.
This is influenced by a variety of factors such as family, friends, books, music, religion, TV and film.
And so we go around living our lives with an identity of who we are. But it’s often much more complex than that.
As humans, having a sense of self is important to our development because life is easier when you know yourself.
But in a rush to reach that knowing we often end up skipping the pivotal exploration period of really delving in and asking the question of who am I?
So we settle for what influences us a combination of what we see and what people tell us to be. We end up thinking that that is who we are when their is a whole other self to be explored.
Growing up in watched a lot of TV and became really interested in characters, how we define ourselves and labels.
I think that is where my interest in people, the human experience and eventually social science came from.
I grew up trying to figure out who I was and what labels fit me. I was constantly trying to put myself in a box thinking that this would be the best way to understand myself.
But it didn’t work. We’re much more complex than we give ourselves credit.
Over time I find myself regularly discovering new aspects of myself. Some of them fit the story I used to tell myself of who I am and others don’t.
But unlike in the past I’m no longer trying to fit into boxes, I’m actually willing to explore myself and my humanness and all the aspects of self that I discover along the way.