How to Be Yourself

Knowing how to be yourself in social interactions is essential for building a rich social life and rewarding relationships with others.

And like many other people out there, you may need to learn, or better said, re-learn how to be yourself.

Well, I’m gonna guide you on this path towards confident and authentic self-expression.

The Journey of Learning How to Be Yourself

A friend of mine once went to a therapist and told him he wants to be himself more. The therapist asked him: Well, who else do you think you are?

It’s a thought-provoking question. As a social confidence coach, I think for many people, the answer is that while they are themselves most of the time, during lots of social interactions, they put up a front.

They don’t reveal themselves authentically and instead they create this fake social person which they show to others. This persona typically tries to embody all the qualities that others will like and approve of: niceness, chivalry, humor, competence, confidence, a good mood and so on.

Usually this tendency to hide the authentic self is grounded in some kind of insecurity, perhaps an inferiority complex or a negative self-image.

Essentially, learning how to be yourself is the process of dropping this fake persona, replacing it with your genuine person, and becoming comfortable with expressing it.

Now, I’m going to teach you a 3-step process for being yourself, which has been used successfully by my coaching clients.

If you want a more thorough understanding of this process, check out this free video guide.

1. Get In Touch With Yourself

I find that many persons have lost touch with their authentic self. They’ve gotten so used to putting up a fake self in social interactions that they don’t really know who they are anymore.

They don’t know what they truly like and dislike anymore, what they want, or what their real opinions are. Sometimes, they feel seriously alienated from themselves, which can be a source of anxiety or depression.

So the first key step in learning how to be yourself is to get in touch with yourself; with your passions, values, opinions and natural inclinations. The main way to do this is through personal reflection.

Ask yourself questions designed to reveal to you your real self. For instance ask yourself:

  • What movies do I really like?
  • What are my opinions about the current economy?
  • What subjects do I enjoy to talk about?
  • What values do I treasure the most?

Take some time to really think about these things. The better you know your true self, the more you can bring it out in social interactions. This leads me to the second step.

2. Make Small Steps Forward Towards Authenticity

The big practical issue regarding how to be yourself is that most people try to do it all at once. They wanna completely drop their mask all of sudden and be totally authentic with others.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. You need to identify the specific ways in which you are inauthentic in social interactions and then correct them one by one.

You need to gradually get out of your shell and become more authentic. And you do this by setting small change goals for yourself and working on achieving them.

In time, these small goals add up and soon enough, you find yourself behaving in a radically new way when dealing with others.

In fact, many people may actually say to you: “Wow, you’ve changed!” Becoming more authentic leaves external clues, and this is definitely one of them.

3. Calm Yourself Down

The vast majority of people who have a hard time being themselves feel somewhat anxious or tense when interacting with others. And when they even think about being real in a context, their anxiety shoots up.

The trick here is to calm yourself down and assure yourself that it’s OK to be yourself. Nobody else is going to do it for you, or at least not forever.

You do this through your self-talk. The fundamental skill to master is talking to yourself, in your inner dialog, in a manner that’s constructive and reassuring.

For example, when you feel anxious and the need to hide your true self, you can say to yourself something like: “Is perfectly fine to be myself. This person will probably like me as I am, and if they don’t, that’s their problem.”

This kind comforting self-talk will make the anxiety slowly dissipate and make it easier for you to be yourself during a social interaction with somebody.

You can find out more details about changing your self-talk and enhancing your confidence in my free conversation confidence guide. Make sure to check it out.

As you implement these three steps, you’ll create a positive shift in your self-image and you’ll become a lot more confident in social settings.

How to be yourself is something that’s absolutely learnable. The important thing is to take the right steps, to execute them effectively and to be committed.

I’ve seen numerous persons dramatically boost their social confidence and become truly genuine when dealing with others. If they can do it, so can you.

Image courtesy of I’ethan

How You Fuck Yourself Emotionally

This week I’m somewhere up in the mountains, delivering a communication and public speaking training. I can see snow and skiers out the window; it’s a pretty epic scenery.

Today was speech delivery day. Each participant to the training delivered a speech and received feedback on it, from myself and from some of the other participants. It’s been another reminder for me of how our fears are self-generated and most of them are based on pure crap.

Almost every participant had a lot of anxiety before and during their speeches; the kind of anxiety you would expect somebody to have in front of an execution squad. Discussing with the participants and finding out the way they think, it wasn’t hard to figure their fear out.

Two Faulty Ways of Thinking

First of all, almost every participant was convinced that they will have a terrible speech, and they will make total fools of themselves. Despite these expectations, all speeches were actually above average and many of them were quite good. Several participants couldn’t believe this even after receiving numerous positive feedbacks.

Secondly, many of the participants had hideous interpretations of feedback on their speeches that pointed out areas to improve. Emotionally, it was like a blow to the stomach for them. One person almost started crying during the feedback process, despite the fact it emphasized a lot more strong points than weak ones.

A Million Scenarios, the Same Two Problems

These two faulty ways of thinking are only particular and slightly stronger manifestations of two broader thinking and attitude patterns. These two patterns can be found in the psychology of numerous people.

1. A negatively distorted self-image. There are tons of individuals who see themselves as less able speakers, less skilled professionals or less attractive persons than they really are. Their self-image simply doesn’t keep up with their competencies, which leads to low self esteem and low confidence.

2. Perfectionist expectations of oneself. There are also tons of individuals who believe they need to be perfect, to have no flaws, and they can’t accept themselves otherwise. Thus, any emphasis on personal flaws or discovery of personal flaws is a real drama for them.

When you ask of yourself to be perfect but you see yourself as a loser, you create a huge mental gap. Thus, you fuck yourself up emotionally. And from there, you destroy most chances you have of a prosperous and fulfilling life.

Cognitive-behavioral therapists have been saying for a few decades now that for the most part, we make ourselves feel like crap through erroneous ways of thinking. Well, my training experience this week is just another concrete demonstration of this.

The Takeaway

This is a good moment to reflect upon your self-views and self-expectations. Are they pragmatic and anchored in reality? Do they help you make progress in your personal and professional life, or do they harm your life?

If the later is closer to the truth than the former, it’s time to seriously consider changing your attitudes and your thinking. And I mean REAAAAALLY consider it.

I often say that improvements in your people skills and your attitudes are the most relevant ones you can make. The more you support your emotional life through your thinking instead of screwing it, the better you will be.

Image courtesy of dpup

Why Being Yourself Is Hard and How to Actually Achieve It

‘Be yourself’ has got to be one of the most popular and attractive pieces of advice for people skills development these days. I think I read it or hear it almost every day. It’s one of those things people say instantly when they want to help you embrace your flaws, be more comfortable and more expressive socially.

I believe that actually learning to be authentic is a pretty complex process. In my experience, giving a person advice like ‘be yourself’ will usually do nothing (and I mean nothing) to actually help that person achieve this. It’s a piece of advice in the same category with ‘be confident’ or ‘be positive’, which are just as ineffective.

Why? Because none of these things are something you just do. Most people would really love to just be themselves. But they simply can’t do it like that.

In order to master being yourself, you need to dig dipper, and understand the attitudes and beliefs which allow you to be yourself. Then, you need to work on developing them. As you develop these attitudes and beliefs, you will naturally end up being more authentic. But your focus is not on authenticity most of the time; it’s on building this foundation for it.

In the last years, helping people learn to be more authentic has been one of the most meaningful parts of my work. I firmly believe that being yourself is one of the most powerful people skills to have.

But I don’t teach this by telling my clients: ‘Just be yourself man! What the hell is wrong with you?!’ I help them work on this foundation I’m talking about. What is this foundation? When it comes to being authentic, I think there are some key attitudes one must learn:

  • That it’s OK to be imperfect, to have flaws and make mistakes;
  • That people generally won’t think you’re an idiot and reject you for them;
  • That even if some people do, it really doesn’t matter.

These attitudes are solid gold from my perspective. Once you manage to drill them deep into your habitual ways of thinking, being yourself becomes easy. You can no longer imagine yourself not being yourself, and it seems so silly to be otherwise.

Of course, if you’re not used to thinking and feeling in a way which is aligned with the key attitudes above, it will take some time and practice to master them. Adopting these beliefs and making them a natural part of you can take anywhere from 3 months to 3 years, depending where you are right now.

And this provided you actually use the right personal development tools. Considering that a lot of people use the ineffective ones, and even more don’t go beyond just trying to be themselves directly, what we’ve got in today’s world is a large population striving for authenticity and not getting there.

The good news is that the more people will learn to address people skills like being authentic by going beyond the surface, and the more they will use scientific, well grounded in reality tools for transformation, we will see great things happening.

How Knowing Yourself Can Improve Your People Skills

Finding my niche as a communication coach and figuring the lifestyle that suits me was not a revelation, it was a process. One of the stepping stones in this process was knowing myself thoroughly and understanding what I have to offer.

An interesting side effect was how much I improved my people skills, as a result of improving my self-knowledge. There is an obvious link between knowing yourself and choosing the right career. I discovered there is also a strong but more subtle link between knowing yourself and your people skills.

It’s funny how the effective personal development in one area often starts in another, apparently far away area. Here are some specific ways I experienced myself how knowing yourself can improve your people skills:

1. More social confidence. When you know yourself well, you know what you are about and you understand your strengths. From this place, confidence to put yourself out there often comes naturally. Knowing yourself often pushes you to meet people and to express yourself socially.

On the other hand, people who have a blurry image about themselves are more reluctant to put themselves out there. They don’t even understand who the person they put out there is, so they often have superficial interactions with others.

2. Building comfort. I realized one of the best ways to make people feel comfortable with you is to give them the chance to know you as a person. And you do this by expressing your thoughts, values, passions, emotions, in a powerful way.

But of course, in order to do this, you have to know them. As you know and open yourself up authentically, it’s easier for other people to reciprocate by opening themselves up. This two-way process is essential in building strong relations.

3. Investing in the right relations. How often have you heard people complaining about how they have the wrong friends or relationships? It’s easy to get caught up in time and energy consuming relations with people who are not a good fit for you when you don’t know yourself.

However, when you understand yourself, your intuition and your logic will better tell you who is a good fit for you. This will help you invest time and energy in maintaining and growing the relations with the right people for you, and letting the other ones fade.

There is a very simple lesson here: if you want to improve your people skills but you don’t know yourself very well, forget your people skills for a while and focus on this aspect. Get to know yourself better and as you do, you will improve your people skills and you will also create a solid foundation for them.

How to Avoid the Holiday Madness and Enjoy Yourself

One big clue that we live in a strange world is for me the fact we even have expressions like “holiday madness” and articles like this one. What in the world is that? Aren’t holidays about rest, relaxation, fun? Have I missed some important lesson in school?

Left and right, I hear people talking about the upcoming holidays like they’re talking about a job they hate, about work they accepted by manipulation and actually wanna avoid.

Remember when you were a child? A holiday was simple: less school, more play, which equaled more fun. Then you grow up and something happens (other than the fact you find out Santa does not exist). You start turning a holiday into one big to do list, filled with things you must do, and you must get them right.

Here are just some of these things:

  • I must buy presents for everybody;
  • I must send emails, messages and postcards to everybody;
  • I must decorate the tree and the entire house;
  • I must prepare a big and lovely holiday dinner;
  • I must make sure all the right people are invited;
  • I must do charity and help others;
  • I must make a new year’s resolution.

And as if all of these are not pain provoking enough, you add the ultimate holidays’ expectations:

  • I must make the holidays special for me;
  • I must make the holidays special for the people around me;
  • I must enjoy the holidays;
  • I must make sure the people around me enjoy the holidays.

With all these “musts”, the concept of “holiday madness” is starting to make sense. You create it; in your head. You take holiday traditions and turn them into obligations; you take holiday wishes and turn them into desperate wants. After a holiday like this, you can’t wait to get back to work!

By this point, I’m positive you already have a good understanding of what the primary way to avoid holiday madness is: letting go of the imperative expectations about what you must do and what must happen during the holidays.

It’s a process. Like most personal development journeys, it starts in your head. This one with asking yourself what would happen if you would drop some of these tasks and expectations. What would happen if you stopped buying gifts to everybody? Would they really stop loving you? If they would, do you really want a type of love which is this fragile? What would happen if you skipped on the Christmas tree this year? Is this plant the main source of your potential holiday joy?

Once your shift in thinking is happening, you can start doing a behavior change. Do more of what you like, instead of what you used to think was required, and keep things simple. When you can avoid the holiday madness and actually enjoy yourself, you are going places.