Just Be Yourself – Why It’s Bad Advice: Being Yourself is the Problem
Follow your heart, be true to yourself, everything will work out, and just be yourself. And oh, ride your unicorn over the rainbow with butterflies and fairies floating through your hair.
The most common tip you hear to be better with women and men is “just be yourself”. Jump in a forum, blog, or conversation where people discuss the secrets of making friends or attracting the opposite sex and you’ll hear the unanimous piece of advice echoed like ancient wisdom. I’ve received many emails and comments on articles like What Women Want in Men saying, “Forget everything. Just be yourself.” I manage to withhold from clicking reply and sending an angry response.
Being yourself is as useless advice as being told to “be confident”. How do you just be confident? You can’t just do it. Unless the word triggers what you need to do like “express your feelings” or “stand up straight”, being yourself is not helpful advice.
It’s time you understood this cliché and what you can do to be the best real you.
Why You’re Told to Be Yourself
It is easy when we are in prosperity to give advice to the afflicted.Aeschylus, ancient Greek playwright and father of tragedy
Understand the reasons people say to be yourself and you begin breaking down the belief it’s useful advice.
The majority don’t know how to attract women, get a guy, or make friends. Asking the average person how to keep a conversation going is like questioning a poor man for the secrets to be rich. If you ask your well-intentioned mother how you can get that cute girl at school, she’ll tell you to be yourself because she knows no better. Few have studied what makes one good with people.
The second reason someone tells you to “just be yourself” is to reassure you that as a person you’re fine. To change something about you implies something is wrong and flawed. Those who care for you want to preserve your self-esteem.
Asking the average person how to keep a conversation going is like questioning a poor man for the secrets to be rich.
The third reason someone tells you to “just be yourself” is that’s what most of us have heard about social skills our entire lives. Popularity creates familiarity and belief.
Mention these three weapons to counter the folly advice and you’ll be told “okay, then just be patient” and “it’s not meant to be if it doesn’t work out”. The reasons someone tells you to be yourself also explain this pathetic advice.
Talk to these people about conversational strategies, body language, or NLP and you’ll see a blank look flush over their face. It’s like getting a layman to explain how a bulb is switched on. Most lack understanding and consciousness of everyday systems we take for granted.
The Dangers of Being Yourself
You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.Mike Murdock, televangelist.
One of the main differences between happy, successful people and their opposite is an attitude of responsibility towards creation. The common miserable man believes he’s a victim of the world. “There’s no point learning how to speak on stage because I’m bad at it.” A belief that being yourself is the way to go creates victimization and laziness to get what you want.
“Just be yourself” excuses you from leaving your comfort zone. It grants you permission to surf the Internet all day, not approach someone you want to talk to, or avoid that class you want to attend. Such thinking is like: “This feels uncomfortable so it’s unnatural. I better stop.”
An unchallenged body does not know itself. Talk to someone who’s been through severe adversity and you’ll hear someone who knows what matters to them. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. “but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
An unchallenged body does not know itself.
The risk in being yourself and not leaving your comfort zone is stagnation towards achieving your goals. You get your current results in life for a reason. If you’re fat, I guarantee you eat and think different to models on TV or bodybuilders. If you’re lonely, I guarantee you move and think different to someone popular. If you’re shy, I guarantee you talk and think different to a confident person. In this lies the problem of being yourself: you’ll continue to get what you’ve always got and be what you’ve always been.
The Case for Being Yourself
You never find yourself until you face the truth.Pearl Bailey, American actress and singer
If you’re fuming about what you’ve read, I’ve just undermined your belief system of what to do to be good with people. To get what you want, you have to evolve. If you keep your daily habits, your future will be the same if not worse.
Pete Sampras, Wade Gretzky, or Jack Nicklaus didn’t give up after a lost match, missed shot, or lost tournament. They certainly did not think being themselves was the secret to sporting success. Each of them practiced something everyday that wasn’t “them”.
Your true self is not your habitual self. You do what you do now for many reasons. Influences of what you do include friends, family, culture, and general experience in the world. A woman can be a rape victim fearful of intimacy or she can be a loving wife. Experience shapes who you are but it doesn’t define you. You define yourself.
“Just be yourself” has too broad of a meaning to be useful. Getting more focused, there are certain situations where it is good to be yourself depending on context and meaning.
Being yourself is good advice when its understood as not comparing yourself to others. When you compare yourself to the billionaire or the guy who gets a hot new woman every week, you’ll feel worthless. You’re better off doing what I call a “self-to-self comparison” where you juxtapose your present self to your past self. Your past is too different from others to compare yourself with them. Stop putting people on pedestals.
It’s not about being someone you’re not. Authenticity is saying what you mean and meaning what you say.
Being yourself is also good advice for authentic conversation. “When one is pretending, the entire body revolts,” wrote French author Anais Nin. What you feel shows in your body language. Psychologist Paul Ekman gave the term “microexpressions” to describe how the face gives off subtle signals of one’s true feelings. You can say you’re fine about a friend going to a movie without you, but your narrowed lips and eyebrows close together give the person an intuitive signal you’re angry.
5 Ways to Be More “You”
- Use your strengths.
- Do what you love.
- Align your life and values. What matters to you?
- Acknowledge others. Your perception of people is a projection of you. Think about this each time you judge someone.
- Do your assignments. What do you feel called to do in the world?
Fake a smile in the mirror to sense the weirdness of being unauthentic. Begin to imagine how hiding yourself damages relationships. It just feels wrong. Most of my teenage years were spent with a mask on covering my true feelings with family because of shame. Your emotional health and relationships eventually suffer when you’re not yourself.
Why then do we act “fake” in relationships? You most likely do it because you fear rejection and not being loved for who you are. It is deep stuff.If someone dislikes your mask, that’s only your mask and not you.
To be what I call “the real you” entails vulnerability. The real you entails equal effort, fear, and risk. If this scares you, know that a challenge will cause evolution. The best real you is saying what you mean, meaning what you say, and doing what you can to be trustworthy, reliable, and responsible.
The path to the best you is ****en hard if you’ve been unauthentic most of your life. People judge and treat you a certain way based on the image they expect you to uphold. Heck, you have an image of you called a self-image that regulates what you do.
The question is: what’s your self-image at the moment and what do you want it to be? As you answer and think about that question throughout the week, keep in mind what Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.”
The next time you hear “just be yourself”, email or post the link of this article to your advice-giver.
Joshua Uebergang aka "Tower of Power"
Joshua Uebergang, aka "Tower of Power", teaches social skills to help shy guys build friends and influence people. Visit his blog and sign-up free to get communication techniques, relationship-boosting strategies, and life-building tips by email, along with blog updates, and more! Go now to https://www.towerofpower.com.au/free/