There's lots of focus on the annual "new year, new you" phenomenon in the advertising, media and self-help worlds. And while this time of year can be a great catalyst for positive change in your life, what if you made a commitment to live your life in 2010 focused on who you are, and not so much on what you do, what you've accomplished, what you look like, what you're striving for and more? One of best things you can do in this new year is to focus on who you really are, instead of who you think you're supposed to be.
Who would you be without your accomplishments (or failures), your degrees (or lack thereof), your bank accounts, your experiences, your title, your home, your status? As simple a concept as this is to think about and discuss, at least on the surface, it's actually quite difficult for many people—myself included—to genuinely separate who they are from what they do (or have done or not done). This past year has shown, in some cases quite painfully, how quickly the external circumstances of your life can change and things can be taken away.
The deeper question to ponder here is really one of the big philosophical questions of life, "What makes you a valuable person?" While this is something everyone has thought about to some degree, most people don't really engage in this inquiry on a regular basis. And, when you do, you often think that if you just got more done, lost some weight, made more money, took a vacation, accomplished a goal, had more meaningful work, made it to retirement or whatever, then you'd be happier or feel more valuable. Sadly, this is not usually the case and is why most of your New Year's resolutions don't really last.
What if, in addition to having resolutions, you could expand your capacity for appreciating yourself for who you really are in a genuine way, having nothing to do with your external self? What if just being yourself, the way you are right now, is good enough?
Being yourself takes courage, commitment and faith. It's a process of letting go of many false beliefs you've picked up from the collective consciousness: that you have to look good, be smart, know the right people, say the right things, have the proper experience, in order to be happy and successful in life. Being yourself can be scary and counterintuitive, difficult and even off-putting and, at times, lonely. However, being your authentic self is liberating, exciting and fulfilling. When you have the courage to just be who you are, without apology or pretense, so much of the suffering, stress and worry in life simply disappears.
3 ways to truly be yourself
Here are a few things to consider and practice as you deepen your awareness of and capacity for being who you truly are in this New Year:
Have fun with this, talk to others about it and have a lot of compassion with yourself as you practice—this is big stuff for most of us. This year, instead of trying to be a new you, just be yourself.
- Tell the truth to yourself. Think about how much of your self-worth is based on what you do, how you look, who you know, what you've accomplished (i.e., the external stuff). The more you let go of being defined by the external, the more freedom, peace and power you can experience. And, as you really get honest with yourself, you may realize that outside of these external things, you don't really know who you are. As scary as this may seem on the surface, it's actually great news and can give you access to a deeper and more meaningful experience of who you are.
- Appreciate who you really are. What do you appreciate about yourself that has nothing to do with anything external? In other words, what personal qualities (of being, not doing) do you value about yourself? The more you're able to tap into what you appreciate about who you are (not what we do), the more capacity you have for real confidence, peace and self-love.
- Practice just being you. As silly as it may sound, you have a great deal of experience being phony or being how you think you're supposed to be. It actually takes conscious practice to be able to just show up and be who you are. Practice alone, with people you know, and with total strangers. This is all about awareness: paying attention to how you feel, what you're thinking, what you say and how you show up. It's not about getting it right or doing anything specific; it's about letting go of our erroneous notions of how you think you're supposed to be and just allowing yourself to be who you are in the moment.
Mike Robbins is a best-selling author, sought-after motivational keynote speaker and personal growth expert who works with people and groups of all kinds. Robbins is the author of the best-selling books Focus on the Good Stuff and Be Yourself: Everyone Else Is Already Taken. He and his work have been featured on ABC News, in Forbes, Ladies Home Journal, Self and many others.
More from Mike Robbins
Printed from Oprah.com on Monday, March 10, 2014
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