DO YOU. There has been recent attention drawn to this expression, reflecting the message to be yourself. Being you and doing you starts with knowing yourself.
In one of his last appearances, Steve Jobs shared this profound message: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Being the real you requires the hard work of self discovery. It can be painful, uncomfortable, and difficult. It can bring up negative feelings and can involve re-visiting damaging life experiences. It can involve making tough decisions and changing habits. It can lead to disappointing others and making adjustments in relationships. It takes courage and confidence. It may require taking risks that are scary. It can foster fear and uncertainty. It involves residing in the truth. There are no shortcuts and it can be ugly.
The good news is that learning about yourself is an investment that is worth it. It can be an exciting and powerful adventure. Philosophers, scientists, and thought leaders have written about the importance of self knowledge for hundreds of years. There is no shortage of quotes highlighting the relevance of self awareness and discovery.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about self-reliance and the journey of self discovery: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Ancient Greek philosophers shared the message to KNOW THYSELF. “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom” is a quote often referenced to Socrates.
“Live your life for you, not for anyone else. Don’t let the fear of being judged, rejected or disliked stop you from being yourself.” -Sonya Parker
“Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of someone else.” -Judy Garland
“Be yourself–not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” –Henry David Thoreau
The benefits of learning about and being the real you strongly outweigh the risk or discomfort of the discovery process. Trying to be someone you aren’t is exhausting and not easily sustainable. Research indicates that people who score higher on authenticity assessments report more life satisfaction, happiness, and self-esteem. Understanding your true self will lead to freedom, emotional health, clarity, and fulfillment. You will have more control over your sense of wellbeing and will be less dependent upon external circumstances. You will discover more energy to put towards what is important to you. You will experience increased resiliency and ability to navigate through stressful circumstances. You will experience more joy and freedom from worries about what people think of you.
Know yourself and Be yourself. There are several components to being the real you. Knowing yourself and gaining the awareness of your inner state of being is first. Being your authentic self involves matching what you say and do with your inner life. According to Mohandas Gandhi, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
We are bombarded with messages and expectations from the world – social pressures, advertisements, social media, families, etc about how we should be, how we should look, what we should be doing. We can also create these expectations for ourselves in a way that is not healthy. Sifting through the noise to connect to our true selves requires reflection and intention.
How to discover the real me?
- Evaluate your self perceptions and narratives you tell yourself. Release yourself from your inner critic. Challenge the automatic assumptions and thought processes you engage in. Break harmful, negative thinking patterns that are not serving you well.
- Let go of what others think of you. This is difficult, but focusing too much on what others think comes at a cost. Consider the saying, what people think of you is none of your business.
- Leave people pleasing behaviors behind. By putting the needs of others over your own consistently, you will sacrifice your own needs, desires, and dreams. Doing so will lead to resentment.
- Reflect on your emotional reactions to events in your life. Learn from these insights.
- Be aware of the risks of conformity.
- Identify your purpose in life. What legacy do you want to leave?
- Clarify what your true beliefs and values are. Spend time reflecting on what really matters to you.
- Discover what makes you the most engaged, fulfilled, and happy.
- Limit your access to social media posts. Being bombarded with the highlight reels of others can reduce self esteem and create confusion. If you compare, you despair.
- Practice self care and self compassion.
- Learn to be present. Practice mindfulness skills.
- Accept your whole self, weaknesses, mistakes and all.
- Reflect on the quality of your relationships. Make necessary changes and create boundaries with people who are dysfunctional or toxic. Spend time with people who you can really be yourself with and who embrace who you are.
Karen Doll has been a Licensed Psychologist in the Twin Cities for 20 years, working in organizational consulting. She leverages her education in Clinical Psychology with her leadership assessment expertise in her practice. She is an executive coach focusing on helping people maximize their potential.