How To Be Yourself
By Leo Gura - April 10, 2014 | 34 Comments
Why it’s so difficult to be authentic and how to start being your self all the time.
Hey, this is Leo from Actualized.org, and in this video, we’re going to talk about how to be yourself.
Let’s break into this one. How do you be yourself? How do you be your authentic self? How do you stop acting for other people? How do you stop being a people-pleaser? How do you honor who you really are?
This is something that I’ve actually struggled with for most of my life. It’s been a really tough journey, and it held me back in a lot of ways, always being a people-pleaser. Always worrying what other people thought about me. I have other videos, I have a great video up there that talks about how stop caring what other people think about you. You might want to check that one out as well.
Let’s talk about how to be yourself. What I want to go into are some of the reasons why you’re behaving this way, why you’re having difficulty being yourself. I want to give you a couple of ideas about how to start to turn that around. That’s what this video is going to be about, real quick.
Basically, you can probably notice there are people in the world who are comfortable being who they are. They’re very grounded,solid. It’s almost like they don’t give a shit. There’s that type of person. Maybe you have friends like that, or you’ve met people like that. Then there’s the other type of person, which is the type of person that is always living afraid. Living afraid of what other people will think of them.
Dig Up Your Authentic Self
What they do is, they take their authentic self and they bury it. Their authentic self is like this shining light that’s inside of them. Picture a little sun inside of you that’s a shining beacon of light. What happens is that you put layers and layers of negative, limiting beliefs, social and religious conditioning, bad parenting on top of it, until that shining beacon is so covered in grime, dust and mud that literally none of the light can break through.
Just maybe in little places, where you have a crack here, a crack there. What you’ve got is this very unilluminated beacon. That’s what’s fueling you. Your life is coming from that, from that place. If you come from this place, it’s hard to be successful in life. It’s also hard to be truly fulfilled and truly happy, because your authentic self is buried.
You’ve got all this logic, reasoning and beliefs around why it should remain buried. Unless you go in there and start to dig around, you’re not going to fix it. What’s going to happen is that you’re going to keep it buried for the rest of your life. You’re not going to be self-expressive, the way you want to be. You’re not going to be your glowing, radiant self. You’re not going to be magnetic.
People will not really be attracted to you as much as they should be. You’re going to have trouble in your relationships. You’re going to have trouble in business, in career. You’re going to have trouble with communication skills, speaking to people, personal fulfillment too. It’s not just about how you interact with others. Your personal fulfillment — you’re going to lack fulfillment on a deep level, because you’re not able to express yourself.
Let’s talk about some of the things that are holding you back. The biggest thing that’s holding you back is that you’ve got this mental image. You’ve literally got a mental image or even a movie that you play of what you look like from other people’s point of view. It’s as though you’re being watched.
I can speak about this very articulately, because I’m talking from my own, personal, direct experience here. I have this. I’ve had this for a long time. I’ve really dumbed it down lately, over the last five years. I’ve really worked a lot of those issues out, but I still have that lingering. I’m still working through this.
When I’m walking through a crowd, or I’m at a Starbucks, or a gym, or even when I’m sitting at home, it’s always as though I’m being watched through a camera. I kind of have that sense, it’s like a sixth sense. On some level, this can be nice. There could be some advantages to that. You’re a little bit more reflexive. You’re more aware and cautious of what you’re doing.
It’s also stifling. You’re always looking at yourself as though you were looking and judging yourself as a third person. You put yourself into other people’s shoes. You ask yourself: “Well, what does that person think of me? How did this play off? How did what I said affect them? How did that affect their mood, their feelings?” You start playing this game of what other people think about you.
You tell yourself that this is actually OK. That this is the right way to live. You tell yourself the reason you’re doing this is because you’re an empathetic person. You actually care about other people. That’s what I told myself as well. The problem is that you’re too empathetic. Like everything in life, there has to be a balance.
The problem here is that you’re overly-reactive to what other people think about you. I’m not telling you to be a dick. I’m not telling you to be an asshole or a bitch. What I’m telling you is that if you are having difficulty being yourself, and you care a lot about what other people think about you, then you shift the scale to the other side. A little bit towards the uncaring side.
Don’t worry, you’re not going to go overboard. It’s going to be too hard for you to become totally cold and heartless. You’re not going to ever get there. But we do need to start to shift you.
Basically, you have to stop caring what other people think about you. Anything that will get you to stop caring is going to improve your function in life. It’s going to make you more self-expressive. I think the core of why you care about what other people think about you is because somewhere deep down inside of you, you feel like what they offer you can’t have true and lasting value.
Really think about this, because this is a deep idea. Somewhere deep inside, you tell yourself that this person you’re interacting with, whether at work, in your relationship, your family, with a friend, that this person can give you something. And that something is so meaningful, so valuable that you need it.
Therefore, you will do whatever it takes to get it. This could be a tangible, material thing, like money. In most cases, it’s not that. It’s more ethereal. What you’re actually after is approval. What you want is approval. Approval feels so good, right? When your self-image is validated by other people. When people tell you you’re a nice person. When people compliment you on how you dress, how you look, how sexy you are, how masculine you are, how confident you are. When people tell you how good a provider you are, how much money you’re making, how much status you have, how cool your car is, how good you’re doing at work, how excellent you are, how proud they are of you.
All of this, all these things, are basically ways of lavishing you with approval. It might sound, on the surface, like “What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong if someone tells me that they love me? What’s wrong if someone tells me I did a good job, when in fact, I did do a good job? What’s wrong with someone giving me a compliment on how I dressed if I really put in a lot of time and effort and dressed really nice? Shouldn’t I get complimented for those things?”
There’s nothing really wrong with that, as long as you’re not going overboard. The problem is when you start to need is psychologically. It becomes like a crutch. It really becomes like a drug for approval. It can be really difficult to wean yourself off of this.
Addicted To Approval
What you’re telling yourself, deep down somewhere, unconsciously, is that actually, this approval is something valuable. It’s something you need, you want. It’s so important, right? Either that, or something tangible that you’re getting. MAybe it’s the sex you’re getting from your relationship. You’re telling yourself that “Well, that’s something I want. That’ something that’s valuable to me.”
That money you’re getting, maybe from your parents or someone that’s supporting you, or even from your job, you tell yourself “Well, I really need that money.” Or that love you’re getting in a relationship or with your friends. That support that you’re getting. The assistance you’re getting, maybe someone is helping you with something so you feel kind of indebted to that person, a little bit obligated. You don’t want to rub them the wrong way.
What if you say something honest to that person and they think you’re some sort of weirdo? Or they no longer want to associate with you. That might affect your work relationships. Maybe that affects your business prospects. Maybe your clients will think poorly of you. Maybe it’ll get back around to your social circle.
You have all this kinds of thoughts. Because of this, you think that all these things — sex, money, love, assistance, approval — all these things are valuable. What you’re going to discover, if you really delve into personal development, you’re going to discover they’re not actually valuable at all.
What I mean by this is that they can never give you true inner fulfillment. These are all thing that you can chase. These are all things that are very illusory. They will make you feel like you’re getting it, like “Oh, if I could just get a little bit more money, a little bit more sex, love, support from my friends, approval from the people at work or my boss, then I will be happy.”
Going The Wrong Way
That’s a big, big trap. It’s a misunderstanding of really how happiness and fulfillment work. What you’re looking for there is stimulation and excitement, rather than true happiness. This is too deep of a topic to cover here. If you’re really interested in what true happiness is, I have a great video on that. It’s called “What Is Happiness”. Go ahead and search for it.
There I talk about some very advanced, deep concepts. I go further into this idea of what happiness is. And it’s not what you think it is. For now, you’re just going to have to take me on my word that these things are really not going to make you fulfilled.
What you’re doing, when you’re playing up to somebody else, when you’re holding back your opinions, when you’re trying to act so that you’re perceived in a good way, that’s basically pretension. We might call that pretension. Ultimately what you’re doing — I want you to realise this — you’re whoring yourself out. You’re being a whore, very literally. What does that mean?
That means that you’re acting. You’re not being authentic to you, you’re not being yourself. Somehow you’re sacrificing that so that you can get a positive reaction from somebody else. This happens everywhere in life, and it can happen in very, very subtle ways.
Literally, you could be whoring yourself out when you go to a Starbucks. You go to a Starbucks and there’s a long line. You’re standing in line and you’re about to go up and place your order. All of a sudden, someone kind of cuts in front of you, as though they had an order before you. You know they’re trying to get their way in there.
They cut in front of you, but you say to yourself “Well, what should I do? I really don’t like the fact that they cut. I should call them out on it. On the other hand, I don’t want to cause this whole ruckus. I don’t want to impose myself. I don’t want to be perceived as the jerk. I don’t want that guy to think I’m being rude or something.”
So you kind of hold yourself back. You just stand there and you’re like “Well, just let him go, it’s not a big deal.” What happened there — even though that’s a very small, insignificant-seeming thing — the significance of that is that you weren’t being yourself. You weren’t being authentic there.
Authentically, you were upset at that person, at that situation. You felt like the right thing to do was to call them out on it. But you hesitated, you held back. The reason you held back was because there was something you were whoring yourself out for. In this case, it just might’ve been that you didn’t want him to think badly of you, that person who cut. You didn’t want him to think badly of you, so you just let it slide.
Sold Your Soul
If you do that at Starbucks, I can only imagine where else you do it in your life. In your intimate relationships? In your business? At work? At the gym? It’s a philosophy that you have. I know, because I’ve come from this place. You lack assertiveness, you lack confidence. You basically sacrifice yourself and your own values.
More than that, you sacrifice your soul, basically. You’re basically selling your soul for a little hit of approval. You’re selling your soul for a little hit of love, sex, money, some of that assistance you’re getting in your life somewhere.
I want you to recognize that. That’s what you’re doing. Maybe that sex — you might tell me “Well, sex has value to me. I really enjoy sex. And love has value for me. I need love in my life. I need money, what’s wrong with money? How am I going to pay the bills if I don’t have money? What’s wrong if I need someone to assist me? People need assistance from other people.”
There’s nothing wrong with it. But is it worth the cost of selling out your soul? Is it worth the cost of all the fulfillment you’re sacrificing, that you’re laying on the table? Because that’s what you’re doing. The worst of it is that, not only are you whoring yourself out — in both subtle and big ways — but you’re doing it for something that will never make you fulfilled.
I understand if you whored yourself out for something that would actually last, would be of actual lasting value to you. That’s not the case here. Someone’s opinion of you is not going to make you any more fulfilled. If everybody in the world loved you, that would not make you happier than anybody else, really. It wouldn’t go and penetrate deep in here.
It would look nice on the surface. It might make you happy for a few days, a few weeks, or even a month or so, but it’s not really going to make you satisfied. Having all the money in the world, being the richest person in the world, in an of itself is not going to make you any more satisfied. Not on the inside. It will look nice on the outside.
The same thing for the love that you’re getting from a relationship. The same thing with any kind of approval you’re getting from your friends, your boss or your co workers. It’s not going to work. The happiness has got to come from inside out, rather than from outside in. You’re whoring yourself out, really, for something that’s actually very, very shallow too. That’s the worst of it.
The Cost To Doing Business
What’s the solution? The solution is to accept that there are real costs to being you. There are costs to being you. There’s a cost for standing up for truth. Sometimes people might think of you badly. Sometimes you might get fired for that. Sometimes maybe you’ll even get thrown in jail for that. Certainly a lot of cases in history of famous figures who that’s happened to.
Your spouse might actually leave you. Your girlfriend or boyfriend might break up with you, if you actually are your authentic self. Those are the costs — there are costs. I’m not saying those are necessarily going to be the costs that you incur, but those could be some of the costs of being you.
What’s the flipside of this? The flipside is that you don’t need everybody to like you. In fact, it’s not even possible to make everybody like you, even if you do everything perfectly. You have to just accept that certain people will not like you and that it doesn’t really matter. In fact, your best strategy and chances of success in life — chances at fulfillment and chances at the most people liking you — is to be yourself. When you’re yourself, your authentic self, you’re magnetic. You’re attractive. People want to be near you.
Maybe not the same people that want to be near your fake self right now. Acknowledge that. I’m not saying you can maintain everything in your life as it is and still be yourself. You might need to make some sacrifices, there might be some costs. Chances are, right now, you’ve whored yourself out and now you have some social debts. When I tell you to stop caring about other people and start being authentic, you’re going to come up with all sorts of reasons why that’s too costly for you.
You’re going to say: “Well, then my boss will say something bad. My job might be in danger. My relationship might be in danger. Something else might be in danger. “ What’s more important to you? Is it more important to you for you to be getting those shallow things? Or is it more important to you to be self-expressive, to really be yourself, to really be fulfilled inside. And then to act from that, to live your life from that. To create a business from that place, to create a career from that place. To create a nice relationship from that place.
What’s more important? You can still keep whoring yourself out if you want to. In the end, being a wwhore is not a good way to go through life. My suggestion is to bite the bullet on this one and be yourself despite the costs. In fact, what I’ll have you do is –we’re going to wrap with this, something practical.
I want you to write down a list of all the ways, and all the areas in your life, where if you started to really act yourself, really honest with yourself, and expressing yourself honestly, where you might incur some costs. Where there might be some friction, some tension. What are those debts that you’re now kind of sunk into.
I want you to write those down. At work, in your relationship, in any kind of interaction you’re having with other people. Write them down. Maybe you think that you’ll have strain in your marriage. Maybe you think you’ll have strain at work. Write those down and be specific about what the costs are. Then, when you survey the whole list of costs, I want you to say: “Am I satisfied with these costs? Or am I going to decide to be my authentic self despite the costs?”
Fuck the costs, be yourself! You’re going to be much happier. Ultimately, you’re going to be more successful too. It just might take a while for you to recreate your life a little bit, because some of those thing might actually fall out of your life. When they do, you have to be OK with it. You have to recognize that when you are your authentic self, it’s going to be better. It’s going to be more of a stable success.
Now people are going to be attracted to you. Situations you’re going to be involved in are going to be more authentic.They’re going to be aligned with you, rather than being the sham that they are right now. You’ve got to stop living this sham kind of life.
The final exercise that I’m going to wrap up on is the following: I want you to observe yourself over the next day, in very subtle ways. I want you to see how you’re whoring yourself out, and call yourself out on it.
For example, if someone sends you a simple little email and you want to reply to it, but then all of a sudden you stop yourself and your natural reply, you want to kind of soften the edges of it, you don’t want to be coming off too impolite or rude, or you’re worried what that other person’s going to think, how he’s going to interpret your response. You kind of dumb down your response on the email, make it kind of sweet and polite.
Notice that. Notice what you’re doing there is whoring yourself out to get a positive reaction from that person. At that point, I don’t want you to judge yourself. This is kind of mindfulness, I also have a video on mindfulness you might want to check out. Practicing mindfulness is you just observe yourself whoring yourself out. You don’t judge yourself, you don’t say “This is bad.” or “This is good.” You just let it be. You just follow through, carry it through.
Whore yourself out, but be conscious. This time, do it consciously. I want you to do that for the whole day, and notice the subtle little ways you’re doing it in. Kind of like that Starbucks example I gave you.
Alright, so this is Leo, I’m going to be signing off. Be yourself. Don’t be a whore.You’re going to be much happier not being a whore. Trust me on this one. This has been well proven through hundreds and thousands of years of wisdom, books and knowledge that have been written on this stuff. It’s definitely a solid principle to follow. Be yourself and pay the costs.
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