Just be yourself. This advice is given with the hope of being reassuring. "You got this! Just be yourself!"
It is an invitation to take the pressure off.
We trust that who we are in our most relaxed state is going to be our most responsive and attuned self.
I definitely show up as my best self when I don’t feel self-conscious and have thoughts of me on my mind. The trouble, however, is that I have a habit of having myself on my mind. I compulsively check out how I am doing. Asking myself if I am getting it right and managing myself so I don’t make mistakes. The worst part about this is that I am often not even conscious of doing this. I notice after the fact when I feel more relaxed and at ease.
To make matters worse, as part of the journey to being relaxed and at ease, all different parts of myself show up, and they aren’t always my best self. When the mask comes off I don't always beam love and light. My irritation comes out. Impatience is there. I can be judgmental, petty, grumpy, selfish, bitchy, etc...
Knowing this means that letting my hair down doesn’t always feel safe. Who knows how I am going to show up if I let go.
My husband Angus is the person with whom I feel most accepted and that makes the times when he doesn’t accept me all the more painful. It can feel like a rug gets pulled out from underneath me, and I find myself spiraling down into shame and feelings of unworthiness.
Fortunately, I don’t live there very much these days, but I know the neighborhood well.
I know that my fear of showing my humanness and being seen for all of who I am is not rational. It is based on misunderstandings I made up as a child when I felt I wasn’t loved as I was. I learned to do my best to keep the parts of me I believed to be unlovable under wraps. I tried to only show the acceptable parts of myself and doubled down on developing the aspects of myself I thought met others' approval.
The trouble is this is exhausting, and it resulted in a mental breakdown in my second year of college.
This was challenging, but I am grateful for the unraveling that started then and continues to this day. The falling apart started the ongoing journey of allowing myself to be whole and opening to accepting myself as I am.
I am learning to see myself with clearer eyes and to not hide parts of myself from myself because of shame. Accepting myself is the ongoing journey of waking up to a greater love in my own heart so that more and more acceptance is possible.
The only thing that gets in the way of me experiencing my heart opening fully are my misunderstandings and limiting beliefs that don’t allow me to see what is possible. These are not my fault, and the timing of their falling away isn’t in my control.
What I can do in the meantime is love myself where I am at in the best way I know how.
As I do this I find myself experiencing more courage to show up authentically and speak what is in my heart.
So the next time someone tells you to just be yourself or you feel like you aren’t being yourself and you want to, see if you can be with yourself where you are at.
Rather than trying to change yourself, can you instead seek to understand yourself? Recognzie you are being yourself. You are being yourself with all of the fearful, critical, self-conscious, judgmental thinking that is present.
Can you be with yourself in this experience and not need the experience to be any different?
Can you meet yourself with love and acceptance in this experience?
Can you relax into what is exactly as it is?
That is what I am experimenting with these days.
When I suffer from insecurity, feelings of unworthiness, and self-consciousness, I am doing my best to welcome the accompanying emotions of hurt, sadness, and shame and just be with them. Being with myself means I don't get lost in the experience.
It is not always easy. There are times when I wish I was someone else, someone who is more confident and self-assured, but as Popeye said, "I yam what I yam."
Being myself might mean feeling anxious and insecure and covering my feelings up with a smile and the appearance of being together and on top of things.
And that is okay!
I am on the learning curve of accepting all of myself and not judging all of the ways I protect and take care of myself and the ways that I show up when I take the mask off and show my lack of enlightenment.
Do you want to join me on this learning curve of being with yourself exactly as you are? It is nice to not be on the journey alone.
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In the first season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couple's intensive retreat programs that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilders Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.