Advice that we have probably heard over and over in our lives is to “be yourself!” and to “be authentic!”
But what does that really mean? Who are YOU? Can you really be defined and can that definition of you change? Of course we are always changing and the you that you were last year is not the you that is you now! Are we constantly trying to get back to ourselves or are we in the process of creating ourselves? Perhaps both?
There is a lot of criticism about being “phony” as it feels we are being lied to, mislead or manipulated when someone acts in a way that does not line up with the character that we have decided they are. Because of this we often slowly make change so it doesn’t throw ourselves or anyone off by leading people to believe we’re "fake". Have you ever started a new job and felt like you’ll be found out for being a phony in that role? Maybe people will realize you really know what you're doing and that you don’t belong there. After time in that role you start to feel like it comes naturally and it integrates into the character that you label as “me”.
Today I was listening to a podcast today by Katie Dalebout called The Wellness Wonderland Radio where she interviews Dr. Samantha Boardman. In part of the podcast they talked about being “un-you” and it got me thinking about this pressure we put on ourselves to be the character we call “me” or “I”.
There may be experiences we want to have but we say to ourselves something like “I could never do that” or “That’s not me.” We limit ourselves so that we can stay comfortable in this role we have designed. It feels safe and familiar. BUT, this is potentially how we stay stuck.
Are you living a magical exuberant life you dream of or are you just continueing to play an outdated version of yourself?
We are always evolving and embracing change is part of our life experience. We have been raised with the idea that once we figure out who we are it's time to "settle down". Settling down often means we stay put right where we are. We don’t need to "settle down" unless that is what we truly desire. Take some time to get in touch with what it is you really long for, even if that means being unlike yourself.
As a child we play pretend and imagine ourselves to be heroes or heroines
that we admire. We copy our parent’s behaviours, people we see on TV or characters we invent in our mind. This process helps us to form our personalities as we learn how to interact in the world. As we get older we tend to stop playing and believe that we must stay as the adult we have turned into.
If there is a desire to change then there is an opportunity for growth. Do you wish you could be more outgoing, friendly, courageous, silly, charismatic, adventurous ? Who do you look up to and what traits of their do you admire? Maybe it’s time to start pretending to be a little more like someone else as a way to develop some parts of yourself that are yet to be unlocked. No matter who we act like, we are always us at our core. It is the repeated actions we participate in that we believe shapes our personality. Therefore, we can integrate new repeated behaviours to form a new personality over time.
Others may not love this and it might get people saying things like “you’ve changed!” It’s ok! You can let people know that you’re playing at trying something new and that you’re open to change in yourself.
If you’re feeling stuck in a certain area of your life, maybe it’s time to challenge yourself to do the opposite of what you would usually do and see how that feels. You can always go back to the old version of you if it doesn’t feel quite right. You may notice that you feel like a phony for a while but over time you can start to embrace this as a new part of yourself.
I used to be excruciatingly shy my whole life until high school! I felt so stuck. I would be in the middle of doing a presentation to the class and stop myself mid-way through and be done with it because the fear of talking in front of others would overwhelm me. People that know me now would be surprised that this is an old version of me, as I now love talking in front of groups! What changed? I started doing the opposite of what I would normally do. I started by taking a drama class to get myself out of my comfort zone. I didn’t see myself as the kind of person to take drama but I knew the person I wanted to be was someone that was fearless in front of crowds so that was a stepping stone on that path. I also started working at a camp where I had to be silly and sing songs in front of kids. It was not who I was!… until I did it so much that it became who I am!
We adapt to our environment, the people around us, the decisions we make and the thoughts we fixate on.
Are you participating in a life that is serving an outdated version of you? Are you ready to evolve and upgrade? It’s time to envision who you want to be in this world and start shifting into that role! If you always storm out during an argument and it is not serving you then maybe being “yourself” and “authentic” in that moment is not in your best interest. It may be time to shift into the next version of yourself! YOU 2.0!
Authenticity does not exist in our actions; it exists in our vulnerability when we shift into our heart center. It exists in our compassion, our vibrancy, our devotion to ourselves. Authenticity resides in our inner world and is expressed through us to the outer world.
The person you want to be… what do they wear, eat, say, do? Start doing those things! Play pretend a little and see how it feels. You are the designer of you and your life. Stop letting the old you or the world around you decide who you are!
YOU have a choice! You are not bound by shackles to this old version of you. Let's imagine you make it to the beautiful age of 100 with the ability to reflect on the life you lead. What do you hope 100 year old you will be able to remember about the life you experienced? Will you feel proud of yourself for playing in the full spectrum of life or will you feel guilty that fear kept an invisible tether around you holding you back? We exist in every moment, every experience, ever scent, every sound... no matter where we go, we are there! The more we play and explore in life, the better we come to get to know ourselves. If you really want to find yourself, try something different and see what happens. You might just discover a new part of yourself that had been waiting for you to discover it!