To describe happiness is to diminish it.

~ Stendhal ~

Being Your Real Self

November 15th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 1 min, 49 secs

You’re better off being yourself.

Self is a difficult concept. What does it mean? Dictionary definitions suggest it’s your  “perceived personality”, “what identifies you”, or your “complete personality”.

Yet, however we see self, it’s always reflected best by our true nature. That characteristic way you have of behaving and thinking is somehow rolled together into a package we collectively see as identity. Self is the essential “you”; a slightly vague way of identifying your essence through what we perceive.

Clever people spend a lot of time studying the self so I won’t linger too long on the concept. Still, it’s fascinating that the very thing that defines you as a unique person is so incredibly hard to describe.

Maybe that’s partly why so many surrender their “self “ so easily. Because, they don’t know how remarkable they are. It’s easy to let go of who we are when we not too sure of it ourselves and the experience keeps meeting our needs.

Cults and isms abound, trading on the exchange of identity for security.  By fulfilling unmet longings and reassuring with a strong sense of belonging, cults collect. Melding people’s sense of self-concept with their own brand of control, individuals are diminished The result is a kind of mind control, robbing people of their real selves and instead planting a mix of official group think.

But people don’t have to go that far to lose their sense of self. Just following the herd will do it too. Whatever the media says, a great many will obey, because the pull of belonging is too hard to resist.

That’s why being true to you is so crucial. By understanding your self well enough you can avoid forfeiting it in exchange for someone else’s idea of who you should be.

With our need to belong so strong, preserving our sense of identity requires a mindful approach. The more aware you are, the less likely you will trade your self in for just another “me too” facsimile.

Most likely though, few people will grasp this well enough to keep their real self intact. With an expert media and slick advertising machine so capable of pulling our strings, only understanding will keep us free.

Superficially, being your real self seems blissfully easy. Yet, it seems to me that keeping your originality takes conscious integrity that’s closely tied to finding your happiness. As vague and as woolly as thoughts on self can be, each of us keeps as much of it as we knowingly care to see.


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