"Just be yourself." Simultaneously, the best and worst advice ever. First off, the "just" part is borderline condescending... saying "just" indicates that the advised action is supposed to be EASY. If we could all "just" be ourselves, the world would be a very different place... granted we know just who the f we are in the first place. For most of us, the sense of ourselves can be ever fluctuating and amorphous. We can feel like we are one person with our friends, another with our family and entirely someone else with our romantic partners. In a very real sense, this is because we ARE. Each person, situation and relationship calls forth different aspects of our personalities, patterns and neurosis. Ever wish you could be the person you are for your friends, in a romantic relationship? uh, yeah. Wouldn't that just make everything easier?? Yeesh. So, if we display ourselves in a myriad of different ways to strangers, family, friends or co-workers, not to mention who we are when we are alone (lets hope no one ever gets to see THAT "you".. eewwww.. ha!), how are we to know which one is the REAL you? This you that you are "just" supposed to be??
Ok, I won't leave you hanging.. Not that I have THE answer, but I have an answer that I have felt into recently. Again, on the dance floor ;) In the middle of all those selves, there is an essential CORE. A defining element that feels amazing when you are smack dab in the middle of it. That place that you find yourself easily able to chose what feels best for you and let the chips fall where they may. Hint, if you are worrying about what others will think, or about anything really, that is a clue you have dived into one of the many "personalities" you fool others (and yourself) into thinking is "you." The real you moves only on the most lovely and juicy feeling promptings from within. Anything else is just noise.
If we are anchored in the reality of our essential core, than "just be yourself" is amazing advice. If we are anchored into one of the many voices in our heads masquerading as you, then "just be yourself" might be the worst advice ever. "What do you mean I shouldn't have told you to f*&k off? I was just being myself! And at that moment I felt like being an a-hole. So there". Can you see how easily mis-interpreted this advice is?
That being said, I had a visceral experience of profound relief on the dance floor... when, having noticed my inner dialogue (a 31 flavors smorgasbord of anxiety producing thoughts), and noticing it was just commentary and not actually me, a space opened up inside. This space WAS me. The me at the core of all outward personalities I show to the world. And though this me was really just space, there was still a "me-ness" that was/is deliciously unique to me. That me still loves to dance, and laugh and love and make off color jokes. That me still likes certain clothing and some movies over others. That me still prefers cashew ice cream over real ice cream. The only difference is the essential me doesn't apologize for any of it. The essential me, that is really just a space for life to happen in, feels free, and yes, SIMPLE. I mused to myself at that moment; "oh, all we have to do is be THIS self? And everything is ok? Really?? All we have to do is feel things, chose what feels clean inside and act on it? Claim responsibility for our results in life and let go of what isn't ours in the first place? What could be easier?" In that moment I got the "just" part. "Just be yourself" where yourself is the essential you, is actually the easiest thing in the world. Its being all the patterns, outmoded belief systems thrust onto us by life and ping ponging thoughts in imitation of a self, that is complicated and hard. There is more on this to share, but I want to write a blog tonight, not a book so I will stop here ;)
Sending love to all my fellow beautiful and complex beings out there :)