Why “Just Be Yourself” Is Bad Advice (And What You Should Do Instead)

be yourself

It was a beautiful summer and elementary school had just ended.

I was wondering how I could make a good impression in junior high and asked a friend of mine for advice.

“Just be yourself”. he said

Even back then I remember wondering, what it really meant. If I hadn’t been myself until now, then what had I been doing?

You are always “yourself”

A persons upbringing is a mixture of love and shit. Everyone has their own mixture – some people get more love and less shit and vice versa.

If you get bad genes, no love and too much shit, there’s a possibility that you aren’t going to do very well.

Everyone still tries their best, but that isn’t always enough considering the background they come from.

The kid who starts to act “out of character” in new environment, is being himself because that’s what his experience tells him to do.

As a kid I always tried to outsmart everyone by thinking. It didn’t work, because I was almost never on the same wavelength as other people.

That was me being myself and it didn’t work.

People don’t care who you are

If you’ve raised to be a dick, being yourself won’t do you much good.

People will always respond to positive qualities and integrity. It’s always better to be congruent to your current feelings so you don’t come off.

When “yourself” isn’t enough, you will have to change.

Identity is a collection of habits

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”- Lao Tse

Your identity is a big fat lie.

What you do, say and think daily is what you are. Every single one of those is a habit that you cultivate daily.

If you keep doing stupid things, saying stupid shit and thinking negatively, then that’s what you are.

The good news is that all of them can be changed. I’ve done it, a lot of other people have done it: it’s possible to change your identity.

Ultimately changing your thinking from negative to positive is the key to everything. You say what you think and your actions stem from your thinking.

How to change your thinking

  1. First, realize that your thinking is a habit that your mind does. Especially those recurring thoughts that you have.
  2. Become continuously aware of your thinking – observe your mind. Be aware that you have a problem with your thinking.
  3. Your thinking doesn’t represent any truths, but your own view of things.
  4. You can’t decide what is going to come to your mind next, so don’t judge yourself for not being able to stop negative thoughts.
  5. The trick is to let your thoughts pass: watch them and let them go. If they are bring you negative emotions, dive and focus on the feeling, not the story.
  6. Recognize the negative patterns in your life and don’t act them out. Just be aware of them that they are there.
  7. Get rid of negative influences in your life. (People, news, communities that dwell of negativity and hate)
  8. Be present as much as you can, the past and the future are just thoughts in your head. You don’t need them. Start meditating daily.
  9. Bring more positive influences to your liferead books/websites on how to improve yourself and your life.
  10. It’s a progress – it took me several months to start seeing changes in my own thinking and one year to see permanent change.
  11. You can’t get rid of everything – You can’t stop negative thoughts from arising. What you can do is to be aware of them, let them go and it will be like they never even existed. In my case I’ve changed probably 95% of my thinking to positive and the last 5% are just something I choose to ignore.


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