‘Just be yourself’ - A seemingly simple piece of advice which should be fairly easy. But is it? Whether for a date, a new job, an important meeting or an interview - ‘Just be yourself’ can be quite a challenging statement.
With this, lays a vast assumption that we actually know who we are in the first place. Along our way we pick up assumptions, judgements, labels, and beliefs that influence how we behave in different situations. These beliefs cause us to put on an armour, an alternative self, that becomes ingrained in our sub-conscious. Are you aware of your labels or are you out of touch with who you really are? Perhaps you know who you are but are scared to be yourself?
I’ve been scared of being 'me' before. I’ve feared not being good enough, or smart enough. Of not being funny enough or of not saying the ‘right’ thing. Sometimes I still have these thoughts, but looking back I recognise that these fears came from not really knowing who I was and being comfortable in my own skin. I became driven by what I thought other people wanted me to be.
Getting to know yourself helps you get comfortable with who you really are. Having an awareness of what you need and value helps give a permission to be yourself. It gives you an internal confidence that you are enough, that is it OK to be you and that you have a voice. This deep knowledge of yourself creates an unexpected freedom to be you. Once you know who you are, you become less concerned with second guessing what others want you to be or which ‘you’ you should be portraying at any given moment. You spend less energy tying yourself in knots trying to be what you think you should, and more time looking inwards.
Where to start?
Understand your needs - we all have basic needs that we need satisfying in order to perform at our best - perhaps you need to be heard, or loved, or need to accomplish or be productive. If one or more of your needs is not satisfied, they will trigger reactions, feelings or emotions. Notice when emotions of frustration, agitation, anger appear. What are you not getting in that moment?
Tune into your thoughts - we have 000s of thoughts every day, and many of these get caught on a cycle of negativity. Look out for these and for what they are trying to tell you. Understanding your thoughts can help you tap into your inner wisdom - if it’s fear, what is it you’re scared of? If you’re frustrated, what lies behind the frustration? Is it a need that needs attention?
Reflect on who you are when you feel most comfortable - this might be moments few and far between. The only time you feel truly comfortable and ‘at one’ may be when you’re alone in a place that helps you feel yourself. Spend time thinking about what holds you back from being this person in other situations - at work, in social situations, in meetings. Notice the situations when you feel more at ease, what is it about these situations that give you the confidence to be yourself?
I didn't know that I had lost touch with myself. I simply couldn't understand why I was so exhausted all the time and came home to collapse in a heap on the sofa. I was spending all my energy being what I thought those around me wanted / expected. These were my own limiting beliefs that I carried around with me. I'd been doing it so long, I became disconnected from who I really was.
Tuning into you and learning about yourself gives you freedom to be whoever you are and live with more comfort and ease - who wouldn't want that?
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Gemma Brown is a certified coach working with people to navigate successfully through transitions - be it career, relationships or life in general. Her belief is that when we confidently bring our whole selves to all areas of life, anything is possible. Transitions exist in both our personal and business life, and so often, the two fiercely overlap. Coaching with Gemma focuses on you as a whole, enabling you to identify your strengths, build confidence and to live a life with increased purpose and direction. Gemma is based in Cambridgeshire and carries out face to face coaching in the area as well as 1-2-1 coaching via Skype and Zoom. For more about Gemma, visit her 'About' page or contact her directly.