The One Thing That’s Keeping You From Being Yourself

Just be yourself.’ It’s a phrase we often use, particularly as one of encouragement. If someone is nervous about meeting new people, or a job interview, or going somewhere new, the advice to just be yourself is supportive and reassuring. But it always makes me panic. What if you don’t know yourself? And what if you don’t like yourself? What if it feels like you have hundreds of different versions of yourself? And not all of them are compatible with one another?

I’m sick to death of this particular self. I want another. ― Virginia Woolf, Orlando

Identity is fluid and shifting. Every experience and emotion alters us slightly. With every breath our cells change and grow. But so we do spiritually and mentally.

No one is a separate entity but all of us are inextricably bound up and interwoven with our relationships and experiences.

Knowing yourself

So much of our sense of self is based upon the reactions of others. It’s fine for our actions and thoughts to be attuned based upon our interactions with other people, as we are an important component of a social world. But this inter element is important – it goes both ways.

When we adjust who we are based entirely on the perceptions of other people and the judgments they have of us – or more likely, what we think are their perceptions and the judgments we have made of the judgments they are making – we are limiting our true self.

Being curious about yourself

It’s not necessary to have distinct aim or understanding of who you are to recover. It is important to embrace the different parts of your personality and be curious about what is there, seeing the changes that are occurring as an evolution and inquiry into self. Dynamic and changing, a whole person, aware and multi layered.

Recovery is not about becoming someone else.

It’s about becoming yourself. A self that is not dictated by numbers or rules, but energized by passions, beliefs and actions. It’s about stretching your comfort zone, but not to such an extent as to completely jar with your values and being.

Recovery is not about finding a self, but being your self. Every little bit of it.

When you are struggling to know whether you are being yourself, ask these questions:

  • Is your choice conscious or unconscious?
  • What would you do if money, time, habit and expectation were not issues?
  • When you make a choice or decision, where do you feel it in your body?
  • Is this action aligned with your long term values and goals?
  • Would you want to be known for this action?
  • Is this decision coming from external influences or intuition?

Image Source: Flickr

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  1. says: Luna

    The image that accompanies this article is highly problematic. The concept that “identity is fluid and shifting” doesn’t make cultural appropriation acceptable and being yourself shouldn’t include shamelessly appropriating the very sacred, very significantly personal headdress of an indigenous people. Nothing screams personal identity more than stealing another’s cultural identity. In striving for recovery we shouldn’t be so focused on ourselves that we lose the ability to respect others.

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