'Just Be Yourself.' Okay, But What Does That Mean Exactly?
We are often advised with the cliched phrase "just be yourself" when we feel anxious or worried. But what does it mean to just be yourself?
“There is but one cause of human failure. And that is man’s lack of faith in his true Self.” — William James
The concept of “the true Self” has been present in psychology, philosophy, religion, and mysticism for a long time. The current research studies also show a connection between the true Self and the experience of meaning in life, the opposite of despair.
Authenticity leads you to your true self
Previously, I have talked about the role of ego in feeling fulfilled in life. We explored that there is more than one entity to yourself: the ego and the true Self or the Source or the Spirit/Soul. It doesn’t matter what you call it, but everyone has this pure essence to their being. However, you probably often only identify yourself with the ego, the part of you that is conditioned through fear. The ego keeps you safe, secure, and out of danger. And that is very important for evolutionary purposes. You need to protect yourself. When you go up the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you are above and beyond danger. You have reached physical safety so you don’t need the ego as you climb towards the self-actualization state. In fact, you have to drop your ego as you go up the pyramid. You have to be more and more vulnerable by dropping your guards one at a time. As you drop these guards, you become more and more authentic and true to yourself first, then to others. This journey through authenticity is what helps you to know your true Self, which I call becoming “God.” Or just when you realize “I am That” as the Vedic expression goes.
Your true Self is always connected with the life source that creates everything
It is hard to describe and grasp this abstract phenomenon of your true self if you haven’t practiced some sort of mindfulness witnessing or meditation. In simple language, your true Self is your Spirit or God’s essence within you but it is much more than that. Your true Self is the awareness of the Presence within you that is always and has forever connected with the Universe. In other words, you are God but feel separated because of the development of the ego. As soon as you believe in the truth of the ego, you start to identify yourself with your gender, roles you play, your physical body, your five senses, your abilities, etc. You forget that you are still connected with the life force, the Universe, that creates everything. That’s why it is so much easier for kids to be more creative and imaginative than adults because kids still are and feel connected with the Universe. Feeling separated from this life force is what makes you feel inadequate and incomplete because you no longer know or believe in your own greatness. And feeling not loved keeps on adding to the void within you even if you had very loving caregivers. These feelings intensify if you didn’t have loving caregivers or unfortunately experienced trauma(s) or abuse.
Following is the exercise I highly recommend to practice at least for three weeks to feel the difference:
Show up for you!
Pick one small thing that makes you feel loved. It could be taking a walk, washing your face before bed, taking a long bath, exercise, fully enjoying a cup of coffee, reading a book, etc. Whatever it is, you have to feel loved when you are done with it. If you don’t, try something else next time till you find something that makes you feel loved and fulfilled. You don’t have to take away a ton of time for this exercise. Just put aside about 10 mins every day to give yourself your unattended attention.
Do not undermine the power of this simple exercise. When you show up for yourself consistently, you are telling your fragile and afraid ego that you are worthy of this attention, that you matter, and that you are lovable. And this, my friend, is a game-changer. This is exactly what I teach to my clients each step of the way. It’s through baby steps you build the relationship with yourself that helps you connect with your true Self, which is always present. All it requires to present Itself to you is your attention.
Go “Be yourself!!”
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