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Be Yourself? I Say “Don’t Be Yourself”

Be yourself? I say “Don’t Be Yourself”

We seek advises from friends, family and even life coaches when we hit certain walls in life. If you feel stuck and lost, you turn into trusted sources for “good advice.” But some life advises out there can be really damaging your life!

So when you get someone else’s advice, you need to be really cautious. If you want relationship advice, don’t consult your divorced best friend. If you need entrepreneurial advice, don’t go to your dad who has retired working in a government office for 40 years.

Finding good advice is hard to come by. You need to seek right advice from right people.

Particularly you need to stay away from generic advises like (drum-roll please,) “be yourself.”

This is a “classic” advice for any adviser who doesn’t know exactly what to say! This advice works like a miracle every time.

Hey man, I don’t know if I should leave my job or stay in it.

“Be yourself”

Machan, I don’t know if I should marry her or marry him?

“Just be yourself

I have always wanted to be a pilot since I was 8. Now I’m 68 and wondering what to do with my life?

“Why don’t you just be yourself?”

It sounds so profound isn’t it? I’m sure even a parrot can become a good self-help guru by saying “be yourself.”

So what’s wrong with “Being yourself”?

Here’s the catch in “being yourself.” What if you’re an asshole? What if you have a bad temper? Is being yourself going to work in the long run? Or what if you have always been bad at math. Is being yourself (which is being dumb) gonna help you?

Most give this advice to many not knowing the negative consequences. In fact “be yourself” can be taken as the best “excuse” to be bad at something. This takes off the responsibility if you’re a mean person. You can say, I have always been like that and I’m just being myself. (Congratulations, you have now been awarded as the Official Mean Person of the year!)

You become a finished product

Whenever someone suggests you to be yourself, you believe that there is no room for improvement. Imagine, you have always been a lousy public speaker. When you’re in front of a crowd, your knees jerk, you choke, your grammar and sentence structure go out of the window, even your pants fall!

Now what if someone advises you to be yourself? This is how your monologue would sound like.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be a good public speaker. It’s just the way I am. I’ll have to accept who I am.”

Or imagine you’re bad at small talk. If you accept to “be yourself” you will always be bad at it. You will always be that weird person at the party. You will not know what to say when someone approaches you at a party. Heck, you will not even feel like going to any social gathering! Sounds familiar?

Here’s another favorite of mine. Nothing pisses me off more when someone says this. “I know it’s so important to read books but I have never been a reader. Reading is not in my blood. I have never been a reader and I don’t think I’ll ever be. It’s just not in me. I’m being myself.”

be yourself

Don’t fool yourself

This kind of thinking leads to a phenomena called the “learned helplessness.”

A mental state in which an organism forced to bear aversive stimuli, or stimuli that are painful or otherwise unpleasant, becomes unable or unwilling to avoid subsequent encounters with those stimuli, even if they are “escapable,” presumably because it has learned that it cannot control the situation.

When you’re in the state of learned helplessness, you start to feel comfortable. Knowing that you don’t control your destiny and feeling powerless is in fact easier than working hard on growing yourself. That’s when you give up to improve yourself. That’s when you start fooling yourself.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you’re the easiest person to fool. – Richard Feynman (One of the greatest physicists of our time)

That’s why it’s easy to “be yourself.” You don’t have to work hard. You start accepting to be that “mediocre person” and live “comfortably” without testing your boundaries.

Become a work in progress

We all have that one friend who is killing at public speaking. We all know that person who is the life of the party. We all have that friend who reads day and night to improve themselves (in this case it’s me. I read like a maniac!).

What many don’t realize is that public speaking, small talking and reading are all skills. These are not god given talents. And any skill can be learned and mastered by anyone if you have enough dedication and will power.

But “being yourself” and accepting to become mediocre is not helping you! Don’t think that you’re a finished product. Start believing that you’re a work-in-progress. Start believing that there is always room to grow and improve.

If you’re bad at public speaking, for god sake, don’t be yourself! Join a Toastmasters club. If you’re bad at small talking, go to a networking event and start getting uncomfortable. If you have never been a reader, just grab a book and start reading. It’s not that hard.

Don’t give that lame excuse next time. Don’t tell someone, “Oh it’s just the way I am. I’m just being myself.”

Stop being yourself. Instead, replace “be yourself” with “discover yourself.”

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Nishan De Silva

Nishan is the founder of Jump.lk. He is a life enthusiast who loves reading and eating. His ambition is to travel 100 countries before dying (even though he hasn't been out of the country yet!)

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