“Above all be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it” ~ Unknown
You might be thinking “I’m always myself, who else am I supposed to be?” I’d ask you to think for just a moment about how many times in the last month you have genuinely been true to yourself. Now take a moment to think how many things that you have said or done were because of fear or because of the way you feel others will expect you to behave.
If you’re like me and a lot of others the second thought would conjure up more images than the first. It’s so easy for us to do what we think we are supposed to do, it’s quite natural to do this but is it really being true to what and who we are? Why do we do this so much? Well, it’s hard not to when most of us are raised by parents with jobs with a view to entering the labour market and working for 40 odd years to then teach our own children to do the same thing. Granted, some people do find jobs that they love and are passionate about, however, how many people do you know that have jobs that they are not passionate about? Whether it is work, hobbies, interests or relationships; life is too short to do things that do not resonate with who we are. With all the masks and judgments we place upon ourselves it can be so easy for us to not even know our true selves.
Our true self is what we are when we remove the labels and take ourselves out of the pigeonholes that we and society place us in. Think about when you were a kid, did you constantly label yourself? I didn’t, I just was, did what was fun and what I enjoyed. As a grown up it is probably impossible to always do this but fun and enjoyment are a key to happiness. To me, a lot of the reasons that we do not go after what we want is we have been conditioned to see the life of our forebears and think this is how life is supposed to be, but I would strongly suggest that this is false.
“You are not your mind” ~Eckhart Tolle
Meditation has shown me that beneath the thoughts is something else, a me that isn’t constantly judging or isn’t constantly attached to something. Seeing this helps to get closer to becoming who you are. The thoughts we have are an active manifestation of our past experiences and worries about the future and both keep us away from being who we are right now. If we can reduce our thoughts about the past and stop thinking of the worst that can happen we can connect with ourselves. Neither me five years ago nor me in five years time is actually who I am now.
“Just be yourself” is a heavily overused cliché and something we can all at some stage find difficult to do. So how do we stop this? We need to stop conforming for the sake of it and because we think we should and only ever attempt to live up to our own expectations of ourselves. It really doesn’t matter what people think we should do, it makes no sense to spend however long doing something that we cannot pour every ounce of our soul and mind in to. Yes, there will be times that you will have to suck it up and do something you don’t really want to but the real travesty is when we just settle for doing something because it has become comfortable. I often speak about misliving and what I just mentioned is a good example of this.
For the most part, the expectations of others are irrelevant. If living up to someone else’s or society’s expectations means we don’t feel ourselves then what is the point?!
It matters more what we think of ourselves as well as being honest and true to ourselves, if we don’t do this then we could wind up spending our whole lives losing who we are and I can’t think of a bigger disaster than that. Life is a great opportunity to learn and we really don’t know if we get another shot at it. To not learn about ourselves and not act in accordance with who we actually are seems to me like a waste of this great journey we are all on.
“And, above all, be true to yourself. Then you won’t be false to anybody else.” ~ William Shakespeare