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It’s a mantra you’ve probably heard dozens of times.
Maybe you subscribe to the belief like I do. But what if on further reflection you discover yourself to be dishonest, angry, or timid?
What if you’re going through a period of your life where you just feel like you’re not living up to your highest ideals?
I’m guessing in moments like these, the last thing you want to be is “yourself.” You may even be experiencing self-hatred because of your situation.
Society is constantly bombarding you with images of the ideal parent, worker, lover, business person.
It’s hard to maintain a healthy sense of self when you’re having to compete with such images of perfection.
You don’t have to. You can, as the saying goes “Be yourself.”
The trick to unlocking the true power of this statement and loving yourself even in these moments comes down to remembering a few key points:
1. Everything starts with acceptance
In order to properly mind the gap between who you are and who you want to be, the phrase “Be yourself” is a wonderful reminder that in order to improve yourself, you must first accept yourself right where you are.
If you are always trying to run away from “bad” images of yourself, you’ll remain stuck.
Fully love and accept the person you are. See yourself putting your loving arms around yourself and gently guiding yourself wherever you want to go from this place of acceptance.
2. Understand that ideal is a myth
In the age of social media moments, everyone can present to the world ideal images of themselves while hiding the less savory parts. “Be yourself” helps you cut through the facade that we all participate in.
When you feel like others have it better than you—when you feel like they are better than you—remember that nobody is perfect.
You don’t need to beat yourself up because you’re not living up to impossible standards. Remembering this will help you move forward.
3. Forgive yourself
When you think of the mantra “be yourself” from a place of true acceptance, you will more easily forgive yourself from any perceived faults and shortcomings.
But if you feel like your flaws are too great, close your eyes, put your right hand on your heart and repeat the mantra “I forgive myself” or “I accept myself” or “I love myself.”
Or you can say something like, “I’m doing the best I can in this situation. I will be loving and compassionate toward myself.”
An important next step in this process would be to attempt to make amends when possible. For instance, if you were unkind to someone, make a sincere apology.
4. Remember you are not what you’ve done
So many of us conflate who we are with what we do. Think about how we define ourselves by our jobs, accomplishments, or failures.
Yes, others will be quick to label you based on what you’ve done.
But by committing to “be yourself” you commit to resisting such labels. You may have done bad things, but that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.
5. Define yourself
It’s hard to “be yourself” if you haven’t defined yourself. If someone walked up to you and asked “Who are you?” would you have an answer?
Of course, you don’t want to use simplistic labels to define yourself.
Defining oneself is deeply personal. When I think about how I want to define myself, I think about Marianne Williamson’s powerful quote from her book A Return to Love:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Read this powerful quote at least three times. Now answer the question, “Who are you?”
Your light is greater than your darkness
Regardless of who you were or what you’ve done in your past, your light is greater than your darkness.
Don’t be afraid of your light. Claim it. Own it.
When you do, you will truly know what it means to be yourself.
And if you can’t believe this for yourself, believe in my belief for you.