Inevitably in life, one of the phrases you’re going to hear bandied about like some magical psychological elixir, or panacea is this:
“Just be yourself!”
We’ve all heard it. Well-meaning friends/colleagues will often say this to us when we’re feeling a bit down, confused, or lost.
There’s nothing wrong with this of course, but what does “just be yourself” actually mean?
To do this, we need to first KNOW ourselves.
The problem arises when we react from our present position of mental clarity, or lack thereof as the case often is, and begin to indeed be… “ourselves”. Meaning, we simply empower the ritualistic habits, mental programs, self “story” that most likely got us into the position where we needed to be encouraged to be “ourselves” in the first place. A quandary. And, somewhat ironic.
Most of us have multiple “faces”, which in eminently sensible by the way, one for an irritating family member, one for our professional life, one for our closest friends, but how many of us exist as our deepest self in Real Life™ for any meaningful amount of time? That is a level of vulnerability which, from my experience, few are willing to expose. And who can blame anyone for that? It can feel a harsh world out there, armour is often felt required to guard/protect ourselves. However, when we overuse that armour, it can all but extinguish the connection to our TRUEST self – and our well-meaning friends simply don’t realise – indeed, chances are, they’re doing exactly the same themselves!
What our “self” can often be comprised of:
- Past memories that continue to plague our thinking.
- Unresolved difficulties.
- Total lack of true self-confidence, calm confidence – not egoic/arrogance.
- Subconscious patterns of reactive behaviours due to conditioned responses.
- Poor habits (who hasn’t got those?!).
- Unruly fight/flight/anxiety triggers.
You know, I could go on. I mean really, on and on. Most of these are conditioned responses to our many life experiences, that’s perfectly normal and natural, but it isn’t HEALTHY. Feeling pain when we stub our toe, or tread on a piece of darn lego or a plug, that’s natural, but it’s not very nice is it? Knowing that, would you think…
I know, that wasn’t fun, and it hurt like **** but I think I’m going to carry on treading on some more Lego bricks! Because it’s “me” and that’s what “I” do!
Do you know Kung Fu?
Now, unless you’re a Shaolin Monk engaging in serious mind over matter demonstrations (and not even THEY dare tread on Lego or plugs, have you noticed?! They stick to hot coal and nails!) the above quote seems ridiculous, but yet, with our mind, somehow we allow patterns/reactive conditioning to become the definition of our “selves”. It is like a form of self-torture. And how do I know? I know because I’ve been there, and am still going through the process (and it is a process, something that requires maintenance) of releasing all these myself. Reactive was my speciality!
I have some good news at this point; it doesn’t have to be that way!
How? Well, here are some quick tips, once you’ve decided you want to discover who “you” really are, on a level of deeper consciousness, so you really can begin the process of BEING yourself. A human BEING, instead of just a human DOING, or a human REACTING. They are subtle differences in language, but deeply profound in practice!
8 QUICK TIPS TO START YOU ON YOUR JOURNEY INWARDS:
- Consider the idea that you are in fact, NOT your thoughts. Thoughts are things that happen, they can be useful, most are habitual and not very useful, try to begin observing your thoughts – and realise, if I am observing thought, then consciousness must exist OUTSIDE of thought (to my best knowledge, this is in fact, the ACTUAL YOU).
- Don’t be too hard on yourself, accept your past “failures” as lessons. Try to consider them rationally. What could you take from them of value?
- Use calming breathing techniques. Just Google and read tips, there’s a ton of videos/blogs/resources for free dedicated to this, follow your instincts, try a few out gently and any that bring you a bit of calm, use!
- Keep notes and little reminders around you, to use the techniques that are working, habits generally take a few weeks to bed in, before you know it, your new methods will grace your day habitually!
- Be understanding of yourself, it will take time to make these changes, every journey begins with a single step!
- Keep notes of your progress, we all need encouragement sometimes, and whilst living in the “now” is about focusing on the present moment, it doesn’t mean we cannot reflect on our positive progress along the journey – that helps keep us motivated, and be able to further enjoy the “now”, by acknowledging we can now begin to be “present” in our own lives!
- If you get lost in your thoughts/patterns again, don’t worry, don’t beat yourself up over it! The more you practice, the less it will happen, and recognise that you are beginning to see the difference between being lost IN your thoughts, and enjoying the space when you can simply observe them!
- Try to sit with emotions, if they arise, allow them to be there, don’t fight them, feel them, recognise them, begin to understand and recognise how your body feels in episodes of anxiety etc. Much like thoughts, you can begin to slowly dissociate from them. Emotions can be very important, they’re also great indicators of the kinds of thoughts we are having. Begin to use them as an indicator, a direction, rather than identifying with them as part of your deeper, conscious self.
If you want more advice or specific coaching on a circumstance, feel free to contact me on Twitter, and I will do my best to be of help where I can. Of course, I would always say to contact a healthcare professional in the field if you feel you are struggling with your mental health, there are many ways/tools out there, and this by no means constitutes medical advice etc – it’s a personal blog, but if you would like to draw from my own experiences, and the manner I use/develop/fuse mindfulness based on my own personal experiences, then you know what to do 🙂
Feel free to research further the tips I personally use and have mentioned through this blog. In fact, I would advise doing so. But remember at some point, you need to start using them, it’s easy to get drawn into endless research etc, when the beauty in my opinion at least, of mindful practice, is its simplicity!
I truly believe, it’s where the journey to discovering the REAL YOU begins.