General Question

wundayatta's avatar

How do you be yourself?

Asked by wundayatta (58638points) July 7th, 2009

We often give this advice: “be yourself!” What does this mean? What are the advantages of being yourself? If you are not being yourself, what are you doing? What advice can we give to people to help them be themselves?

Add a personal touch, too. Have you ever not been yourself? Why? What did you do? How did you find out how to be yourself?

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39 Answers

Les's avatar

I don’t feel like I’ve been myself for about three years. Ever since I moved to Wyoming, I’ve stopped doing much of what used to make me happy. Some of these things were superficial, like dressing well and looking nice, but some of these things were a big part of me (and still are), like singing. It is a terrible way to live when you know you are not doing things that make you who you are, but I haven’t really had a choice since I’ve been here.
I can’t wait to move on to the next chapter of my life so I can focus myself on getting back to the real me. I’d say the advantages of “being yourself” are that you can be a whole person, and not feel like there is something missing in your life.

cookieman's avatar

We are always “ourselves”.

You’re either a calm, sincere and/or confident version of yourself.

Or you’re a nervous, insincere and/or insecure version of yourself.

Saturated_Brain's avatar

I’m mostly myself whenever I’m around people who are comfortable who I am as a person. I can act as crazily as I want, can say whatever I want, can do whatever I want in the full knowledge that these people will not treat me like an outcast or someone weird for doing so.

However, one can never truly be ‘oneself’. There are simply too many facets to a human personality. I can’t be myself. I simply am in two (or more) minds about too many things. Often I’ll feel like doing something, then wonder, “But should I really do it?” or I do something, and then ask myself immediately afterwards, “Why in the world did I just do that?”. I exist not as an individual but as an amalgamation of various sometimes conflicting and sometimes agreeing views and beliefs.

The only way in which I could possibly be myself would be if I were to split myself up into multiple beings. And even then, that wouldn’t be me as I am who I am because these multiple ideas and opinions within me make me who I am. As they say, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

But for my personal touch, I ‘found myself’ when I found people who were similar to me. Who could sympathise and see what I saw in life. Who could understand what I go through and who could appreciate me for who I am.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

To be yourself, in my personal opinion, is to be who you are without being self-conscious about it. There are times in my life when I am just going along, not paying any particular attention to my behavior, and the people around me are laughing and joking and smiling like they all just won the lottery. They are almost looking up to me like I am some sort of hero, and then I get nervous. Then I feel, “Hey, what’s going on here, don’t these people know who I am, who I really am?”

You see, people can tell what sort of person you are when they spend time with you, and then you realize, despite all the bad things you think of yourself, those don’t matter, what matters is how people feel when they are around you. People feel comfortable with me and like to have fun, and laugh and just enjoy themselves, and I have that gift in spades. It’s just that my insecurities sometimes get in the way.

But I try not to be self-conscious of it, nor do I try to brag about it. It’s just who I am and I try to accept it.

He who makes his friends laugh deserves Paradise as a compatriot of Leonardo da Vinci one said.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

I just be me. With me, you get what I am. The good, the bad & the ugly. What you see is what you get.

Dog's avatar

I believe that I am being “myself” but that others wish for me to be what I am not.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Being yourself is no great effort. It takes more effort to try being someone you’re not.

If you’re trying to be yourself, you’re trying too hard.

cheebdragon's avatar

Screw that advice, just be whatever the hell you want to be….

(The world would be a horrible place without any Elvis impersonators…)

gailcalled's avatar

I remember a more useful piece of advice; “Know thyself.” Then one can act accordingly. Hate dressing up? Love doing research alone in the library? Want to get your hands dirty?
Like blue suede shoes? Enjoy hanging around with lots of people? You can be who you are and still keep your dignity. (David Brooks’s column today.)

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@cheebdragon I think the world would be a BETTER place without Elvis impersonators.

cheebdragon's avatar

(Reality tv can destroy dignity)

@Evelyn- **gasp**….Blasphemy!

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

“Be yourself” To me this means:

Don’t feign interest in something just to become more interesting to someone else (unless it’s your boss)

Don’t try so hard when it comes to emoting. You really don’t love everyone or wish them all peace or care deeply when pets die or are getting married or having babies.

Basically this- walk your talk and if you can’t in some situation then swallow your pride and move aside.

JLeslie's avatar

I think being yourself means really listening to your inner voice. When we do things sometimes we should stop and think about “why” we are doing them. I had a girlfriend who said that she lived in a house her mother would love until she was in her 40’s and finally bought the house she wanted after lots of therapy.

As I think about this I realize that throughout my life I have sought out people who would allow me to be myself. In high school most of my friend drank alcohol and I didn’t (just so you parents know this can be very lonely and depressing and in some ways is just as dangerous as having a drink or two) so I got really lucky and went to work at a clothing store where the other teens did not drink or smoke or toke. It was a real gift, thank goodness my parents let me work at a very young age (started when I was 14). It had seemed to me that no one was like me and I was not having any fun. Later I also dated a guy who did’t care if I partied and never put any pressure on me to do something I was not comfortable with.

I have never dated someone that I had to change myself for them, I don’t see how that relationship can work.

If I am with a group of people I do not know well, I do sometimes withhold contradictory comments on a subject if it is going to cause a conflict, but these people are not going to become close friends of mine.

hearkat's avatar

Similar Question: —but that’s not the one I’m thinking of. I’d swear this question was asked before… :-/

Just this morning, I was thinking of the Rick Nelson song that says, “You can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.” To me, being myself means choosing actions that suit my values and take me in the direction I want my life to go. I need a good night’s sleep, so I make an effort to avoid doing things that will have me worried or stressed-out.

I consider all sides and try to imagine all possible outcomes to make the decision that is best for me. Sometimes my choices conform and sometimes they contradict what is considered “right” or “popular” in our culture… but I don’t use that as a basis for my decision – I act independently of cultural influences. I do observe others and I will listen to what people have to say about their experiences, but I know that I alone have to live with the consequences of my actions, so I will still follow my own heart and/or logic to do what feels right for me.

loser's avatar

I’m really only myself when I’m alone.

SuperMouse's avatar

I try to always be myself, but I think that person morphs with time. When I was back home as a stay-at-home mom, I was myself, but a completely different person than I am now. Here I am a single mom, student, employee, and I am myself as well. Some things are consistent no matter where I live, where I am in life, or who I interact with. I am always outgoing and slightly arrogant, I am always full of energy and a kind, loving, loyal person.

tinyfaery's avatar

We are always ourselves. There is no way to not be yourself.

nebule's avatar

I’m with loser… That’s me too

irocktheworld's avatar

Well just be you and do what your always doing and just dont change youself

nebule's avatar

I just danced around the living room like a lunatic…

Grisaille's avatar


I wake up at 4 PM, naked. Drifting about in my dark room, I find my robe.

Opening the door, the evening light usually pours through the hallway window and I struggle to maintain the sense of the world around me. Squinting and stumbling, I make my way down the stairs to my living room.

My cat usually greets me from my couch – she’s a lovely thing. A tabby cat with a wondrous life; always full, always active. I envy, but love her nonetheless.

I give her a quick call, and she follows me into dining room, then the kitchen. I feed her half a can of wet food, and go about making myself coffee.

I pluck out the bright yellow can of Bustelo coffee, and my mind automatically thinks of my parents back home. I smile, than am sad. I miss them.

A full minute goes by, and I realize that I’m standing there, staring at the coffee. Rushing through it, I put an onion bagel in the toaster and head on Fluther. I look through my activity and see if anyone has written anything mildly entertaining or intelligent, before drifting away. I don’t know why I feel the unnatural need to visit or devote time to the site. I just do.

By now, my coffee is brewed, and my bagel is toasted. I spread some cream cheese on it and grab my coffee, heading back to my office. Stopping momentarily to look at the pictures of my passed on loved ones and urns containing the cremated remains of my two previous cats, I realize that I’m a sad individual – even more so because I feel sorry for myself, often. Working at home sure has it’s benefits, but I’m often alone, by myself.

My cat walks into the room a lazy pace, licking her chops before sitting at the doorway, looking at me. I smirk. I put my hands to my keyboard, and get to work.

It’ll be about 14 hours before I stop.

Blondesjon's avatar

Hey look! I’m doing it right now!

azusenal's avatar

I think being yourself is when you can be yourself around people that take you as you are, and that are not judgmental of you. If you’re with a person in a relationship and it feels easy, that’s when you’re yourself. When it’s difficult, then you probably can’t be yourself around them because they are not allowing you to express who you are.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’d say it’s often hard to be myself, that is say all that I mean when I want to, because a lot of people don’t like the things I speak about, as generally I’m not about the weather or their relationships but always talk about activism and social issues and what we should be worrying about…they think this makes me a downer, I think this makes them ignorant

Bluefreedom's avatar

I refrain from being a hypcrite and I practice what I preach. I maintain my same traits and behaviors all the time around those I know and strangers also. I don’t pretend to be what I’m not and like someone already said, what you see is what you get. This is me and I’m happy with it.

YARNLADY's avatar

I find that advice to be very limiting. If you want to be better, then act better, do not act like “yourself” in the past, but act as “yourself” that you aspire to be.

wundayatta's avatar

@Grisaille Ok, I’ll bite. What is it that you do for work, that is so you, and why do you get up at four pm, and work until six am?

@YARNLADY I am quite interested in your answer. I like the idea of being yourself as you aspire to be. Although, now that I think about it, I think that’s what people mean when they urge you to be yourself. They mean more fully yourself, which is the same as the self you aspire to be.

@all I think a number of people have addressed the issue of people trying to act in a socially acceptable way, instead of in the way they truly want to. I guess it comes across as insincere, and even if you can pull it off, you are damaging yourself by doing what you think others want you to do instead of doing what you would prefer to do. Although we all must let society constrain us in some way. It would be no good if we all wanted to be ax murderers.

tinyfaery's avatar

“I guess it comes across as insincere, and even if you can pull it off, you are damaging yourself by doing what you think others want you to do instead of doing what you would prefer to do.”

But this is still being oneself. Maybe someone is the kind of person who likes to please others over themsleves. Like I said, we cannot not be ourselves.

Grisaille's avatar

@daloon Just a writer. We tend to over-dramatize things, ya know.

justus2's avatar

when I was dating my ex boyfriend I completely became not myself, i was always screaming and scared of every little thing that I did, and started treating my friends differently, got e mails from my best friend Angel telling me how I was hurting everyone because I never talked to them anymore and the way my boyfriend was was he would try to take all my friends away from me and isolate me from the world, now I got away from that and am myself again. :)

lifeflame's avatar

I’m just starting out in the performing arts, been directing and acting in plays professional for the past couple of years.
What’s really interesting is that people are starting to intuit a style of dance theatre that they believe belongs to me; and they are able to judge whether something is “Hofan” or not “Hofan” (my real name).

It seems that artistically, I am developing a sort of voice, a personal stamp—which curiously enough, is both of me and independent of me. It’s sort of like writing a novel, and discovering that the characters you are writing suddenly have an integrity and a life of their own, and you can identify things that they would or wouldn’t do.

I do believe that each performer (and each human being, for that matter) has a unique presence. A type of life-force. As a director, my job is to listen, figure out how I can bring it out more strongly, and find a place for it in our work. When I teach creative writing, I try to nurture the strengths of each student, to the point where they are discovering their own writing voice.

So on creative terms, I would say that “to be yourself” is to discover that unique form of expression that has integrity and an identity of its own.

atlantis's avatar

Being yourself is knowing how much consideration and significance you attach to yourself, as opposed to the people around you. This is an important aspect of an individual’s personal development and it is always changing and shiftng according to the actions of the individuals and of those around her.

The person wanting to be themselve should have a very clear, distinct idea of what she wants and a good idea of the distance she wants to put between herself and her group.

shortysith's avatar

Being yourself is difficult to do. It means, in theory, you show the good, the bad, and the ugly. Most of us aren’t that way around the vast majority of people we know. The few that we do let down our guards for and don’t think about our behavior for are the ones who see all three of these things. For me, it is my closest friends laughing when I dance around at the zoo pretending to be a vulture for example, or crying because of something no one would understand but myself and a few others. You are at your best when you are yourself, regardless if sometimes it isn’t always pretty. It is better to be true to who you really are then walk around pretending to be something else.

SeventhSense's avatar

Does a dog have Buddha Nature?

Noel_S_Leitmotiv's avatar

Fear no criticisim.

zookeeny's avatar

I like this question. I have had a year of trying to focus on this. I didnt know what it meant until I could start looking back and see how more myself I had become – that way I had something to compare it to.

Being yourself means living in the now (google living in the now and you will find some interesting ideas to ponder on about it). I dont go with all the cheesy love yourself me time stuff – some of that I think is very false and completely defeats the object of it all. What I have found is that trying hard to focus on the moment – be concious of your surroundings and self at the exact moment you are in using all your senses can help. It takes alot of practice but the more you practice the longer the sensation of being present as yourself becomes and I imagine in time it becomes habit and second nature. Its hard to do but once you start noticing the difference between being grounded and present you dont want to go back to how you were before and so it motivates you to keep trying. You realise how much energy it takes to put on the mask and how freeing it is when you can just ‘be yourself’.

Being yourself means – I think, responding to the cues your body gives you. When you are hungry eat, when you need to pee then pee, when you are tired sleep etc – obviously you have to choose your moments peeing whilst standing at the queue in the supermarket is not a good look but acknowledging what your body is telling you and responding to its needs (therefore your needs) is a way of treating yourself well. If you treat yourself well and dont be too hard on yourself you will start working in harmony with what you really want because you will be listening and responding to you and not trying to conform to what you think you should be. You know inside what you want to do and be and feel etc to be yourself you need to listen to it and work with it not against it. When you are doing that you are being yourself because it is coming from the inside and that is all you have to know how to be you – you is inside you, so there is no point looking anywhere eles.

Its hard but I have realised it is vital to live a full life. I have been absent from the real me for many years and finding myself again is strange but makes everything make more sense and makes life much easier. If you want to look further into these concepts then look up – mindfullness, grounding techniques, living in the now, coming into fuller being – things like that.

You will find there are lots of interesting things out there to read about it. There might be some courses on those concepts through your local mental health team…. not sure how it works where you are but in New Zealand they are pretty good about running groups like this its called holistic health care. I am definatly not talking about those self help gurus who make heaps of money out of talking rubbish – thats all shallow and totally empty and void of the very thing they are claiming to promote.

There is this really great book called The Answer by Linsey something (will find out) its a nice one to read – beautiful photography and wording is so down to earth and lovely. Also I had a black dog – again will find out the author. Thats about depression but is so well written and pictures are great its worth a read.

SeventhSense's avatar

Doesn’t this get old after a while? What if one day you want a muffin?

Just_Justine's avatar

I find there are so many “me’s” just being myself is a hard choice.

SavoirFaire's avatar

The advice “be yourself” means to be authentic. While we might always be ourselves in a technical sense, we often fail to be ourselves in a meaningful sense because we try to fit ourselves into a mold of someone else’s design. The best way to become oneself is to stop trying to be something and start trying to be someone.

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