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Why Being Yourself Is Not Good Advice

Before you can be yourself you have to know yourself

Imagine you have a job interview tomorrow.

Or perhaps you are going on a new date.

You are feeling nervous so you talk to a friend.

They listen to what you have to say and at the end they reassure you that it will all be fine - all you need to do is “just be yourself”.

You may even have given such advice yourself at some point?

Just be yourself. This is great advice, but is it? What if your friend has poor eating habits and talks about themselves endlessly? Surely the best advice to them if they are going on a new date is not to be themselves? Don’t eat with your mouth open and don’t talk about yourself all night, is what you really want to say!

The problem with just being yourself is that it is only one part of what it takes to be authentic. There are three parts.

Authentic people know themselves, own themselves, and be themselves.

To be authentic, we first need to know ourselves in such a way that we have self-awareness and self-knowledge. Then, we must take responsibility for our choices in life. Authentic people recognize that they are the authors of their own lives. Finally, when we know ourselves and we take responsibility for our choices, it makes sense for us to be ourselves.

Advising someone who doesn’t seem to know themselves and who doesn’t take responsibility to just be themselves isn’t helpful to that person as they won’t know what it means. They might even feel encouraged in their bad habits.

But it is good advice to seek to live an authentic life, but only if you follow the full formula: know yourself + own yourself + then be yourself.

Think of the people you know that really seem authentic. Chances are they score top marks in all these three ways.

Find out more in my new book Authentic. How to be yourself and why it matters,