One of the most widespread advices, and even the one that causes the most damage, is “be yourself”. Many people have been successful as they are, but many others have failed or have had serious problems. Although it may seem a contradiction and it is likely that many will disagree, excessive self love is not a guarantee of success or satisfaction in life. Or at least, not always.
Why is not always advisable to “be yourself”?
We must be honest, we have so many strengths as weaknesses, as many lights as shadows. In some cases, being ourselves may lead to the possibility that those shadows obscure our lights.
Although we normally do not like to accept it, our behavior and decisions are determined by many factors we are not always aware of. For example, our nervous system determines from our birth our relationship with the world. That is why there are nervous children who are scared easily, and others who are much more phlegmatic and resilient. The characteristics of our nervous system affect our character, making it more or less impulsive, more or less phlegmatic.
Obviously, even life experiences determine who we are. The attachment that we develop during childhood with our parents, their educational style, and even their personality features, have been imprinted somewhere in our minds and from there continue to influence the relationship we establish with ourselves and with the others. The way we process such experiences becomes our world model, which can be more or less subjective.
Being ourselves implies, in a way, giving free rein to those less desirable features and condemning ourselves to immobility.
In fact, there is a big difference between a conservative or developing self-acceptance. Accepting ourselves implies, first of all, knowing us well, but it also means recognizing and assuming that there are aspects we do not like. At this point we can adopt a conservative position and limit ourselves to accept what we do not like, thinking that “that’s how we are and we cannot change,” or we can adopt a developing position and strive to improve a little more each day.
Being our best version
If you are an impulsive person who makes decisions without thinking, leaving tasks undone, falling into pieces at the first obstacle or that usually focuses on negative things, being yourself will not give you many gratifying experiences. On the contrary, it can create a vicious circle that gives way to psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Therefore, the best advice is: “be the best version of yourself”. This does not mean feeling guilty or unhappy about our “shadows”, but striving every day to be the person we would like to be.
Being the best version of ourselves does not mean being inconsistent or quit to be authentic. Authenticity is the ability to express what we are but in the most assertive way possible, without harming others or ourselves. If being authentic means to hurt and limit ourselves or hurt others, then we have a problem.
In that case, it is important to do an introspection exercise and ask if behind this alleged “authenticity” there is an excuse for not working on the shadows of our personality. Doming our nervous system and silence the influence of our past experiences is difficult, so we often feel much more at ease in the comfort zone we have created. The problem is that in that limited space we do not grow.
Therefore, be authentic, but always try to be the best possible version of yourself. Do not love too much yourself to fall into the mistake of thinking that there is no room for growth and development.