How often have you heard the words, 'Just be yourself'? It is easy, right? As if you had a switch you could turn on whenever you needed it, and become yourself. What makes these simple words so difficult to put into practice?
For many of us, we have become disconnected from our identity. We were not born this way. Life intervened. We learned behaviors, and were shaped by many external influences. Family, cultural, generational, societal, and geographical influences have all helped to shape who we are. You may have endured traumatic experiences that have deeply affected your sense of self. How do you reconnect with yourself when you feel disconnected?
What if you chose, right now, to accept yourself with judgment? That's right, I am asking you make the commitment to equally embrace your strengths and your areas of non-strength. Does this make you feel uncomfortable? Good, because growth does not happen in the "comfort zone".
For those with perfectionist tendencies, please accept this invitation to let go of any notion that you or anyone else is perfect. For most, this is common knowledge, though for many, not common practice. When holding on to self-judgment becomes your way of being, you become trapped in old stories about yourself that don't serve you. You block your ability to access your internal resources to make effective decisions in the present, because your "old" inner voice borne of engrained thought habits, and developed from external influences and past experiences remains the only voice you hear. Socrates said, " The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new."
What would your new inner voice sound like? What language would it use? How would your relationship with yourself be different if you changed your relationship with self-judgment? How about your relationship with others?
Accepting myself without judgment has deepened my self-awareness, strengthened my confident vulnerability, and freed me to make choices in my best interests. With this foundation, I am able to better achieve and maintain internal balance, so that I can best serve myself and others. I am happier, because I am more tuned into what is important to me, and I am happier as a result. From a place of internal balance, I have also noticed that I am now able to accept others without judgment, and better appreciate each person for their uniqueness. This growth happened because I was able to let go of my long-held belief that vulnerability was weakness, and reframe vulnerability as humanity. Vulnerability requires us to open up to others and this might involve exposing some of our "weaknesses" to others. It is our willingness to be vulnerable that enables us to authentically connect with others. As we show ourselves as human, and through this invite connection with others, we create the space for learning, growth, and interdependence.
We live in a deficit-thinking world where more attention is focused on what we are not, or what others would like us to be than on encouraging each person to live and contribute through their unique strengths. This creates an environment where it is difficult to "just be yourself" and for this to be truly valued. It can often cloud your understanding of what 'just be yourself' means to you and discourage you from choosing to be vulnerable. Consequently you can become disconnected from your true identity and values.
Seizing your personal freedom requires courage to be yourself amid all external expectations and the contradictions and inner conflict these may bring. It requires gaining deeper self-awareness and choosing to accept yourself. I encourage you to build the new.
What actions will you take to foster greater self-acceptance and self-awareness? What weight would be lifted off your shoulders or your heart, if you committed to accepting yourself without judgment? What would your new inner voice sound like? How would your relationship with self and others be different?
Be Bold. Be You. Breakthrough.℠
About the Author
Brian Kelly is an experienced, certified Strategic Strengths Coach committed to Building Tomorrow's Leaders Today™. To learn more about how to create greater awareness and understanding of your strengths so you can better apply them to improve your results and relationships, click here to connect with Brian on LinkedIn or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about leveraging strengths to shift relationships and understanding the needs of your strengths, click the link below. This is the first chapter of Strengths Strategy's upcoming book, Unlocking Strengths: the Key to Accelerating Performance, Energy, and Relationships: http://strengthsstrategy.com/download-book/.