Independence Day in the USA has a lot to do with “Being Yourself.”
If you’re not free to be you – then you’re not really free or independent.
Nelson Mandela knew this. He knew that if he couldn’t be free himself, he couldn’t help a nation be free either. He knew that it is really up to a person to decide to be free in their own mind – and not allow others to dictate who or what you can be. So, even while he was imprisoned for 27 years, he was still free to be who he was.
Mandela said that while they could put four walls around his body – they couldn’t put walls around his mind.
Your body may be free – but is your mind imprisoned?
We hear it all the time in movies, on TV shows and from the mouths of well-meaning friends. We see it on T-shirts: “Be yourself!” … “Just Be You.” …”You do you.” Nice sentiments, for sure. But have you wondered what that actually means? After all, how can I not be me??
Here’s how you may not be being you:
- Doubting that your ideas / feelings / desires are valid or acceptable
- Needing confirmation on your clothing / hairstyle choices
- Looking to others for answers to simple, everyday choices
- Lacking confidence
- Lacking self-love
- Not doing work or a hobby that is really enjoyable
- Being dishonest – with others or yourself
- Feeling that you’re not quite living the life you could
- The list could go on…
The Importance of Being You
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”– Oscar Wilde
“Know Thyself”– Inscription on the entrance of the Temple of Appollo at Delphi
“To be yourself you must know yourself.”Lara Palafox
Why you need to do both:
To experience a joyful and fulfilling life, you need to satisfy the different aspects (or dimensions) of you. Just as medical healing needs to address all of your body and mind by taking a wholistic view and not merely isolating a symptom in a body part – so too, we need to look at our happiness and deeper satisfaction with life by getting clear about our inner and “expressed” selves.
The first concept, “Being Yourself” covers your Personality
The second, “Knowing Yourself” covers your Spirituality
Recognizing and making the effort to fulfill both of these aspects are crucial for happiness. Spend too much time on one aspect or the other – leads you to an unbalanced and less then contented life.
The Inevitable Disillusionment of Idolatry (Or Why You Shouldn’t Put People on Pedestals)
What happens when we idolize a person or institution? We get disappointed in the end. We expect “perfection” when there isn’t such a thing to be found. For example, you think you local priest is amazing and because of that, expect him/her to be unflawed. Then you find out he/she has a drinking and gambling problem. Or you follow an awesome, loving and spiritual yoga guru, only to find out he’s an incorrigible womanizer.
Monks are a popular topic now: Think that they have all of the answers and live a happy life? Maybe some do! After all, there are varying requirements of monks… For example, when I was visiting the Potala Palace (in Lhasa, Tibet), I had not one, but two monks overtly attempt to seduce me. What??
A little shocked, I gained more understanding when I learned that the “Tanquas” on the walls not only signified a multitude of sexual positions but were meant to depict the levels of physical delights that awaited monks as they ascend through levels of monkhood. (This, despite the fact that they don’t marry.)
So. When we think one group of people, religion, or philosophy has all of the answers to life – we might want to think again. What I’ve learned through travel, research, studies and listening to “experts”, is that there is wisdom and guidance from a divine source, and many peoples over millenia have been made aware of it.
Knowing Who You Are Helps You Live An Authentically Happy Life – Regardless of Religion or Philosophy.
Feeling Free To Be Yourself
Hiding In Plain Sight – Our Divine Connection
The thing is, while we can learn from others we have to always keep in mind the WE are our own masters. We need to connect with our souls and inner wisdom for guidance. When we nurture a connection to the divine within us – we know what is right. We learn to see more clearly. We can sort out the wheat from the chaff.
Confucious knew it too.
At university I sat in on a Doctoral dissertation that had an interesting title. The guy was attempting to get his PhD in Classical Chinese. As a student of Classical Chinese, I’d been enjoying reading the original writings of Confucius (in Classical Chinese characters). To me, there was great depth to his work, which could be missed by the casual reader.
So, it was a surprise when I heard the PhD candidate state that some of the writings that were accredited to Confucius, must have been written by someone else since the “dao” described in a passage about a butcher cutting up a cow, had no relation to the explanation of “dao” given by Confucius.
In a nutshell: He was wrong. My opinion of course. But I gave it too – when we were allowed “question time”. To make a long story short: Dao (the way / the path), is about our connection to the immortal divine consciousness within us and how it guides us in negotiating our inner path through life. Confucius talked about how an action that is used for a skill, when it reaches near perfection in harmony of mind and motion, is, in fact, a connection with the divine or Dao.
So just as an Olympic archer becomes one with her breath as she fluidly draws back her bow, body and mind in a state of heightened sensory awareness, coiled and yet free of stress – she is connected to the Dao. So too, could an old, highly skilled, artisanal butcher (from centuries ago – they don’t make ’em like that any more), connect to the Dao.
The room went silent after a couple of professors commented that this was indeed highly possible. The candidate (I’m sorry to say, as I felt badly for him) was red-faced. He could offer no comment.
What he had failed to see all along, was that the truth was in plain sight. You just needed the right eyes to see it.
When we learn that it’s within us, always has been – and at the heart of other religions lies this message also – then we awaken to a whole new way of living life.
Ok. What the heck does “Be yourself” really mean? It raises some questions:
1. What if I’m an ill-tempered, selfish person – should I continue to proudly be this?
2. Does “being me” mean ignoring the needs of others?
3. And here’s a really solid question: How could I not be me??
Re-Discovering Who You Are
The reason for the “re” is that we are born into this world not having to think about who we are. Our personalities are reflected even from a very young age. I say this because I have witnessed this in many children and I’m sure that if you’ve watched any child grow from a baby into a toddler, then into a child, you have witnessed this too.
There was a time, way back in your childhood, when you were naturally attracted to certain activities and had specific likes and dislikes. Around the age of 10 is an excellent point of reference – it’s before you were indoctrinated by T.V., magazines or teenage peers 😆
Right now, bring to mind this time in your life. Make a little list. Think about:
- What made you laugh?
- What made you excited?
- What were your emotional tendencies
- What were your characteristics?
- What could you do for hours without any prompting from an adult?
(Another great way to hone in on your natural proclivities and true desires is to imagine you are put on an island and allowed to have 10 things with you to enjoy the rest of your life – these are not to be necessity items such as food and water, and they are replenishable.) – this allows for mature desires to be taken into account…
If you don’t know what you hold as important in life – or it changes like the wind, then you can’t pursue it. You can be easily swayed by the latest book or trend or the opinion of others. Leading you to feeling unsettled within yourself. Doubting your choices and actions. When what you do is aligned with who you are on a deeper level, things flow.
An interesting experiment is to draw out the Kabbalah diagram and see where in your body/mind/soul needs strengthening. I did this some years ago and had a revelation. It revealed that I was balanced in my various chakras, but there was a weakness in expressing outwardly or in my actions in the world, what was truly in my inner world. In other words: I wasn’t talking, being or taking actions that showed who I really was.
This rang so true. Perhaps a remnant of my childhood need to adapt rapidly to changing environments and please often violent and irrational adults – this chameleon-like, people-pleasing habit had stayed with me. I was afraid to be who I really was.
So now, just as I’ve learned to not be swayed be a toddler tantrum, I’ve learned to care less about the reaction of others to what I wear, the state of my hair… my choices in life.
At the same time, I’m less inclined to tolerate the negative actions of others. If I find someone being offensive (whether they meant to or not), it’s easier for me to walk away. “No thanks.” That’s what I’m effectively saying. And I feel fine about it. They don’t need to understand me. No drawn out explanations or justifications or worse – debates from their side on why I shouldn’t be offended.
I simply want to put myself in a happy, respectful and loving environment. If I don’t value myself enough to do that, others aren’t likely to either.
When you start being who you truly are, people who are truly like you (or resonate with you) will start to be drawn to you (for friendship, partnership and work opportunities)… And you will be a lot happier for it!
What will you do today to be truly independent – to be YOU?
Have a good one!