Being yourself – Is It overrated?

'The most important thing is to be true to yourself', in times of crisis you 'lose yourself', you need to go on a journey to find your 'real self' - we swallow these messages in the media and say similar things on a daily basis, but what do they mean, exactly?

Is there really some kind of essence of 'self' that is hidden and we need to find? Or a 'self' that needs to be achieved, or perfected? This kind of thinking can lead us to an endless search for something that we will only recognise once we have it. Because everyone's 'self' is unique, it can also lead to a lot of stress, as our selves never appear to be good enough, or as good as other people's - particularly those people who give extensive interviews about how they found their real selves! The need to be true to yourself can also function as a great excuse for doing things that hurt other people.

When we advise someone to 'just be themselves', though, we usually mean, 'just relax'. Maybe rather than asking if we are being ourselves, we might simply ask if we are doing what makes us happy, if we feel in accordance with our values, or whether we are pretending in some way, in order to please somebody else (the list of such people starts with our parents, however old we are, and can be endless). If we are doing what feels right to us, within the circumstances we have to work with, then we can let ourselves off the hook. There is no 'realer' self to find.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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