Today I wanted to talk to you about not being yourself.
In my experience it feels like this phrase “just be yourself” is thrown around as the remedy and solution for every single forthcoming life problem.
For the upcoming interview that is creating anxiety in us – just be yourself.
For the date on the weekend that is again, playing on our nerves and anxious thoughts – just be yourself.
I think this phrasing is born out of the idea to negate anxiety in these scenarios, which is an admirable one. However telling someone how to mindful and manage anxiety is not the same thing as telling an individual to “just be yourself”.
If you are someone who continues to use the facility of the phrase “just be yourself” to friends, family members and people you know. I want to call on you to make a conscious decision whether this advice is serving their best interests.
The “Hot Date” Example
Let me expand on one of the earlier examples:
I want you to imagine you’re going on a hot date this weekend. Your friend has set you up for the third time and they think that this time, this person will be the one for you.
Perhaps this is something you’ve already had experience with. Perhaps you have been though multiple dates and meet ups, but for some reason you just can’t seem to find that connection you so desperately want.
So, you’re thinking third time lucky. I mean they can’t all be bad? After all, there has got to be someone who’s interested in me that at least meets my expectations. I don’t think that’s unreasonable at all.
Just before you set out to meet your mystery man or woman, those anxious thoughts reappear. However your friend is there to gives you that old adage:
“You’ve got nothing to worry about, just be yourself”.
What if you DO have something to worry about. What if there is something wrong with you; and your WEAK friends are reinforcing horrendous behaviour?
Reasons Not To Be Yourself
I’ll give you an obvious example in the context of our thought experiment.
One of my own pet peeves is people who use their phone at the dinner table. In fact it’s not just a pet peeve, it really makes my blood boil.
There is nothing more immediately disrespectful in the context of family dinner or a date than giving more attention to your phone than the human being in front of you.
Needless to say, if you’re someone who exercises this kind of behaviour – don’t continue being yourself. Yourself is rude as fuck.
Now that the obvious is out of the way, I want to build upon this concept. What other reasons exist for you to abandon the person you are now and be honest?
When I was at university I got addicted to weed. It was the only thing that could get me to sleep, or so that’s how I justified it to myself.
“But I’m an insomniac! It’s my medicine!”.
Whilst I see nothing inherently wrong with weed, what wasn’t resourceful was the relationship I had towards it and the dependent person I had become as a result of it.
Can you imagine the lack of progress, the stagnation, the nihilism I would still be living in if my friends and family opted into this empty and potentially dangerous phrasing of being yourself?
What about obesity, what about harder drug addicts – should these people “just be themselves”.
I’m getting tired of this “love yourself no matter” what narrative.
Self love is helpful up until a point, but anything beyond that is dangerous.
Dangerous because it masks our mental and emotional pain. It makes us believe that this pain isn’t natural and you should love yourself and it will go away.
But what is pain if not a product of nature and the keys to growth and survival. If you burn your hand on the stove, I bet you never put your hand back there again.
It’s our best defence mechanism against not only threats, but when we are not living a life that is in harmony with ourselves.
The trouble is pain isn’t instantly recognisable as something that could save our lives. Especially mental and emotional pain.
There is a reason behind it’s presence in your life, like the hand on the stove example it’s communicating to you that you’re doing something that’s hurting you.
Something needs to change. YOU need to change.
It was the hardest thing to realise that the person I had been, was no longer serving my health and happiness.
It wasn’t my decision to change, I didn’t listen and I wish I had the advice that I’m giving right now. Because if you ignore it and continue to employ this rigid way of viewing yourself, life will find a more dramatic way of letting you know your errors.
It’s not pleasant at all, it’s far worse than consciously changing and in fact it nearly killed me.
I’m afraid it would have done, but there existed something in me worth salvaging and that is true for you also.
We need more honesty and more transparency, not lies.
Don’t be yourself if you’re not happy, be someone better.
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