How 2 B Yourself

Find   yourself and define yourself on your terms. Oscar Wilde once said   with his usual wit: Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. As   humorous as this might seem, it’s a basic summation of the truth. Yet, you   can’t be yourself if you don’t know, understand, and accept yourself   first. It should be your primary goal to find this out. Find the time to dwell   upon what you value and take time to consider what makes up the essence of who   you are. As part of this, contemplate your life and choices. Try to think   about what kinds of things you would or wouldn’t like to do, and act   accordingly; finding out through trial and error helps more than you might   think it does. You can even take personality tests, but be careful to only   take what you want from them so that you do not let such tests define you.   Instead, ensure that the defining you do is based on your own terms and is   something you feel absolutely comfortable with.

In finding your values, don’t be surprised if some of them seem to conflict. This is a natural result of taking on broad values from a variety of sources, including culture, religion, mentors, inspiring people,  educational sources, etc. What does matter is that you continue working through these conflicts to resolve what values feel most true to yourself. Avoid fixating on the past and not letting yourself grow. One of   the most unhealthy approaches to being oneself is to make a decision that who   you are is defined by a moment or period of time, after which you spend the   rest of your life trying to still be that person from the past rather than   someone who is still you but grows with the passing of each season and decade.   Allow yourself this space to grow, to improve, to become wiser. And allow yourself to forgive   past errors and past behaviors you’re not so proud of. Work on accepting   mistakes and choices you’ve made; they’re done and in the past. You had your   reasons for them and the decision made sense at the time, so instead of   harnessing yourself to past mistakes, allow yourself to learn their lessons   and continue to grow.

  • Look for people around you who proudly proclaim they are no different than they were the day they turned 16 or 26 or 36, or whatever. Do these people seem flexible, easygoing, happy people? Often they are not because they are so busy insisting that nothing has changed for them ever, that they’re incapable of taking on new ideas, learning from others, or growing. They might believe adamantly that they are “being themselves” but in reality they are often enslaved by the past and a particular image of themselves that they would have done better to have released long ago. Growth into every new age and stage of our lives is an essential part of being true to ourselves and to being emotionally healthy and whole.

    Stop   caring about how people perceive you. Some of them will like you and some   of them won’t. Either attitude is as likely to be right or wrong. It’s   next-to-impossible to be yourself when you’re caught up in constantly   wondering “Do they think I’m funny?   Does she think I’m fat? Do they think I’m stupid? Am I good/clever/popular   enough to be a part of their group of friends?” To be yourself, you’ve got to   let go of these concerns and just let your behavior flow, with only your   consideration of others as a filter — not their consideration of   you. Besides, if you change yourself for one person or group, another person   or group may not like you, and you could go on forever in a vicious cycle   trying to please people instead of focusing on building up your talents and   strengths; being a people-pleaser   or always wanting everyone’s love and respect is a totally pointless   exercise in the end that can harm your personal development and confidence.   Who cares what other people say? As Eleanor Roosevelt said once, “no one   can make you feel inferior without your consent”and what matters most is   that you listen to your own inner confidence and if it’s missing, that you   start developing it!

    • Does this mean no one’s opinion in life matters? No. It hurts if you’re     socially rejected. If you’re forced into a situation where you must spend     most or all of your time among people who can’t stand you for reasons of     their own, it’s dangerous to internalize their negative ideas of who you     are. What you can do is exercise some choice in whose opinions you value     more than others. It’s much healthier to pay attention to people who     genuinely mean you well and who agree with you about what you want to do     with your life. Someone can mean you well in their own terms and steer you     down the wrong path with all the passion of real conscience if they think     you’d be better off in a different occupation, different lifestyle or     religion. Think of an enthusiastic evangelist from a different religion. If     you are an evangelistic Christian, think of how it feels to be pestered by     the Krishna people about their faith and vice versa.
    • Don’t trivialize it if you face negative social pressure or bullying.     It’s easier to withstand it if you are aware of it as pressure and build     healthy defenses. Building up a circle of trusted friends and people who     share your views and beliefs in life is a good way to help reduce the impact     of hostile people. You can tell yourself their opinions don’t matter, but     that’s a lot easier when there are others who agree with you and stand by you.
    • Learn the difference between intimidating, throwaway, conniving, or thoughtless comments from others and constructive     criticism which is well intended and focuses on real faults that you know could do with remedying. In the latter case, people such as parents,  mentors, teachers, coaches, etc., might well be telling you things that you need to digest and mull over at your own pace, to make self-improvements for the better. The difference is that their critique of you is intended to be     caring, interested in how you grow as a person, and respectful. Learn how to  spot the difference and you will live well, dismissing the undermining critique, and learning from the constructive critique.
    • Be   honest and open. What have you got to hide? We’re   all imperfect, growing, learning human beings. If you feel ashamed or insecure   about any aspect of yourself — and you feel that you have to hide those parts   of you, whether physically or emotionally — then you have to come to terms   with that and learn to convert your so-called flaws into individualistic   quirks or simply as basic, down-to-earth acknowledgments of your own   imperfections. Be honest with yourself, but don’t beat yourself up; apply this   philosophy to others, as well. There is a difference between being critical   and being honest; learn to watch the way you say things to yourself and others   when being honest.

      • Try the tactic of owning up to your imperfections mid-argument with     someone. You will often discover that suddenly you’ve removed the very     reason for stubbornly holding the line of argument, which is often about     preserving face and not giving in. The moment you say, “Yeah, look I get     really irritable when the room’s in a mess too. And I acknowledge that I     shouldn’t leave my clothes in a pile on the floor and yet, I do it because     that’s a lazy part of myself I’m still trying to train out of the habit. I’m     sorry. I know I could do better, and I will try.”, you suddenly infuse an     argument with genuine self-honesty that disarms the entire point of the     argument, which in this case is messy habits but could apply to anything     about your own behavior.
      • Relax. Stop   worrying about the worst that could happen, especially in social   situations. So what if you fall flat on your face? Or get spinach stuck in your   teeth? Or accidentally head butt your date when leaning in for a kiss? Learn   to laughat yourself   both when it happens and afterward. Turn it into a funny story that you can   share with others. It lets them know that you’re not perfect and makes you   feel more at ease, too. It’s also an attractive quality for someone to be able   to laugh at themselves and not take themselves too seriously!

      • Treat   yourself as you’d treat your own best   friend. You value your friends and those close to you; well, who is   closer to you than you are? Give yourself the same kind, thoughtful, and   respectful treatment that you give to other people you care about. If you had   to hang out with yourself for a day, what is the most   fun/enjoyable/fulfilled/calm/contented type of person you could be, while   still being yourself? What is the best version of you? Believe in this idea   and use that as your starting point. Love and accept yourself as you are now,   just as you do for your close ones.

        • Be responsible for yourself and for boosting     your self-esteem. If others aren’t telling you you’re great, don’t let     it get to you. Instead, tell yourself you’re special, wonderful, and     worthwhile. When you believe these things about yourself, others will     recognize that glow of self-confidence and begin confirming your     self-affirmations in no time!
      • Develop and express your individuality.   Whether it’s your sense of style, or even your manner of speaking, if your   preferred way of doing something strays from the mainstream and produces   positive outcomes, then be proud of it. Be a character, not a type. Learn to   communicate well – the better you can express yourself, the easier it is for   the people who like you as you are to find you and the ones who don’t to just   steer clear.

      • Stop comparing yourself to others. If   you’re always striving to be someone you’re not already, you’ll never be a   happy person. This comes about through comparing yourself to others and   finding yourself wanting in certain ways. This is a slippery slope to tread,   though. You can always see the appearances others wish to portray publicly but   you won’t ever see what’s really going on behind their façades in their   apparently perfect world. By comparing yourself to others, you give their   image-portrayal way too much power and reduce your own worth based on a   mirage. It’s a useless activity that only brings harm. Instead, value the   person you are, love your personality, and embrace your flaws; we all have them, and   as explained earlier, being honest is better than running from them.

        • Avoid being unfair to yourself. Sometimes comparison causes us to     compare apples with pears. We’d like to be a top movie producer in Hollywood     when we’re a lowly, aspiring scriptwriter.     To see that top producer’s lifestyle and find yourself wanting as a result     is an unfair comparison – that person has years of experience and hobnobbing     behind them, while you’re just starting out, testing the waters with writing     skills that may one day prove to be exceptional. Be realistic in your     comparisons and only look to other people as inspirationand as     sources of motivation, not as a means to belittling yourself.
        • Never stop looking for your own strengths.     Over time, these may change and thus, so may your definition of yourself,     but never let up in focusing and refocusing on them. They more than     adequately balance out your flaws and are the principal reason for not     comparing yourself to others.
        • Comparison leads to resentment. A person filled with resentment cannot focus on the mantra of “be yourself” because they are too busy hankering  after someone else’s spoils!
        • Comparison leads also to criticism of others. A life filled with     criticizing others stems from low self-esteem and a need to pull other’s off     their perches that you’ve placed them on. That’s both a way to lose friends     and respect, and it’s also a way of never being yourself because you’re     envy-struck and spending too much time on others, not on improving yourself.
      • Follow your own style. The common thing   a lot of people do is copy others’ actions because it seems like the better   route to fit in, but really, shouldn’t you stand out? Standing out is very   hard, yes, but you need to try avoid assuming other people’s perspectives of   you, even if it’s not something you would normally do; that’s what being   yourself is all about. Maybe you like to sit outside on the deck under an   umbrella in the middle of the rain, maybe you have different ideas of things,   rather than other people, maybe you like strawberry   cake instead of the common chocolate cake, whatever you are, accept   it.Being different is absolutely beautiful and it attracts people to you.   Don’t let people change you!

      • Accept   that some days you’re the pigeon, and that some days you are the statue.   People might raise eyebrows and even make fun, but as long as you can shrug   and say “Hey, that’s just me” and leave it at that, people will ultimately   respect you for it, and you’ll respect yourself.


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