Sharing flaws with other popular sayings left open for interpretation, it can be dangerous.
The suggestion to "be yourself" is the one piece of self-help advice I wish would slow down a bit. For a while now, I have struggled with the suggestion to "be yourself," swinging back and forth between accepting and rejecting it.
As well-liked as this expression is, I'd like to offer you some food for thought in this saying to think about.
Why It's Misleading
The fact that you cannot be anyone other than yourself is the first issue with this suggestion. You are almost always you, regardless of how you behave or act. This phrase gives the impression that you can occasionally act like "yourself" and occasionally act "not yourself," as if there were a logical distinction between the two.
Some of you may be thinking, "Miss Q, you are taking this much too seriously at this point. You can act in ways that don't accurately represent who you are, but you can never be a different person from who you are. You can attempt to disguise your authentic identity or put on a fake persona."
A statement like this has a concern because it attempts to artificially separate your behaviors. Therefore, shrinking one into a deception that they're just not "being oneself." This is complete rubbish. When you routinely lie to others, the issue isn't that you aren't being genuine; it's just that you're lying. The catchphrase "be yourself" seems to summarize all of your personality's flaws as not being who you truly are. The term manipulates one into a state of internal questioning, as if it were an accusation.
'Be Yourself' Can S-l-o-w (or stop) Growth
The advice to "be yourself" conceals a hook that can become a trap that prevents you from growing by avoiding taking personal responsibility. You can escape doing the work to evolve by claiming that those qualities are merely NOT a component of the true you, rather than accepting responsibility for who you are and working to improve that. Any guidance, no matter how well-liked or trendy, that prevents you from enjoying a higher quality of life is terrible, dangerous advice.
If I had maintained that I had to be loyal to myself, I would have avoided exploring many experiences. Years ago, s peaking in front of a group would've been outside my comfort zone as a generally quiet and shy kid. Today, I enjoy giving presentations and going to events to help me further overcome my shyness. If I had adhered to the motto "always be yourself," I most likely would have taken a permanent sabbatical from a beautiful future.
Although some of you might believe that this is a misreading of the advice's original aim, it is nonetheless a consequence. Personally and professionally, I've witnessed a lot of people rationalize not pursuing numerous possibilities in their lives by claiming that they needed to be true to themselves. People who, for no clear reason, missed out on great partnerships, events, and a whole slew of new experiences.
The other issue with this is that sometimes you have to "game it" in a situation that is uncomfortable for you in order to bring particular characteristics into your "authentic you." Therefore, even if you are generally quite shy and dull, you might need to start attending gatherings and embodying these traits to internalize them so that you can begin to change them. Being "yourself" could handicap you.
To Become Better Requires Change
The next issue I have with the recommendation to be yourself is that it makes the erroneous assumption that "you" must not change. Nobody on this planet that I have encountered or heard of lacks the desire to improve. Life has purpose because of this urge to evolve, thus it seems nonsensical to conclude that the solution to any problem is to simply "be yourself."
As I said in my opening argument, there is no artificial line between your positive and negative features; they are all a part of who you are. There is also no differentiation between who you really are and all of your other activities. You are simply a jerk when you behave like a jerk all the time. You shouldn't "define" yourself in that way, but you ought to take responsibility for your actions rather than just brushing them off, so you can evolve.
Be your BEST SELF instead of following the BE YOURSELF advice. That needs to be the right expression. This indicates that while you should be yourself, avoid cynicism, shyness, rudeness, and other characteristics that people might not want to associate with.
Your character must blossom alongside you. Don't restrict yourself by identifying a group of traits as the "authentic you." I know that you have a lot more power over your personality than you may realize because I was capable of shifting most undesirable aspects within myself that were not serving my Highest Good, or the future I wanted to create to fulfill my Highest Purpose. Change each and every personality trait that is harming your chances to live a fulfilling life.
I want to leave you with something encouraging in lieu of the suggestion to be "yourself." Despite all the problems this unclear bit has, it does offer some excellent counsel. Thankfully, other pieces of advice can better summarize those pearls of knowledge, so we may discard this confusing and inaccurate statement...
Don't be yourself; instead, be the better version of yourself. In other words, center your life on conscious decision rather than merely acting on all the beliefs and labels you have amassed over your life. Build your life responsibly on your decisions. Don't expect that by being yourself, everything in life will magically work out. Nothing is owed to you; everything must be earned.
The things you can't shift or change
This is crucial to note since it would be ridiculous of me to suggest that decisions might alter every element of your life. It will be difficult for you to modify some characteristics of yourself on your own. And yet, power comes from attention on the things you can control. Your power increases when you concentrate on the areas of your life that you can manage and enhance. You can continue to develop your personality and character for the rest of your life without stressing about the aspects that are fixed.
The underlying hope that somehow, if you simply be yourself, everything will work out is what makes the suggestion to "just be yourself" so seductive. This gives you the cozy sensation that the universe is operating for your benefit. Unfortunately, a brief glance out into the real world reveals to us we do not live in a gentle, utopian concept of the world. The Universe will adjust to who you are, however, you may not like the end result if you are not the best version of yourself.
Being consistent is the underlying meaning of the phrase "be yourself." When you have the guts and fortitude to act consistently, whether around others or privately, you are being consistent. Being inconsistent means acting one way with friends and another while around coworkers. This is the meat and potatoes in the saying to "be yourself," and it could be the only thing that renders it valuable.
Consistency happens when you determine who you are and afterwards commit to be that person in all circumstances. People value integrity in others. People who are dependable can be respected and counted upon.
Perfect consistency is not achievable, particularly if you are evolving continuously. You may frequently need to venture outside your comfort zone in one area, which will test your constancy in other areas. As you evolve, it becomes easier to take bigger leaps without surrendering your consistency.
Following the stale advice to "be yourself" is not the way to achieve personal happiness and success. This "popular pearl of wisdom" is dangerous because it is overly unclear, open to interpretation, and frequently embraced without any thought or consideration.
Don't separate the authentic you from your unacceptable behavior. Own each and every one of your behaviors. The "be you" advice shouldn't be used as an excuse for not developing a more caring, balanced, confident, and disciplined character. You are responsible for yourself.
Being consistent with the person you aspire to be on all levels is the surest bet for being yourself. Work to implement changes in any area of your life where you are discontent. Be prepared to tweak the things over which you have control around whenever they interfere with the quality of your experience.
In the beginning of a major transformation, behavior irregularity is unavoidable and it can be a wild, painful ride full of many emotions. It takes much consistent effort, focus and discipline when striving to have your public and private behaviors align. You will go through MANY versions of yourself until you start to achieve maximum balance. Don't let the many shifts in the long process of achieving a healthy balance frighten or put you off to change. Patience is key, it takes several years. It will not happen overnight.
"Be yourself" is a starting place, not a finishing place.
"Being yourself" is the way you live your life. The goal is to achieve maximum balance. Through these shifts, the highest purpose you are here for becomes more clear.
There are many options available to us, both in terms of who we are and how we choose to represent ourselves to others. Determine how you desire other people to perceive you, decide which behaviors will support the future you want, take those behaviors, and then test them out until you find the sweet spot.
We become what we do, thus we can also choose who we become because we become what we do. The original "me" was incredibly anxious, needy, and insecure. I gained the capacity to become more like the woman I want to be. Still under construction, always...