Have you ever arrived to a social event of some kind and stood at the entrance feeling awkward and somewhat overwhelmed? And your welcoming hostess or host tries to ease your obvious discomfort by saying “Just be yourself”?
Little did they know their kindly gesture would spark a minor explosion in your brain. You grapple with a whirlwind of tumultuous thoughts. Your mind is racing with ‘What does that mean, just be myself? What am I supposed to do to just be myself…?’ The quizzical look on your face doesn’t go unnoticed. “Come on in. Just relax and be yourself. No one is going to bite you.”
Slightly comforted, you go in and hope for the best….
Experiences like that are more common than you might think. And there is a good reason for it. We are seldom raised and educated to be ourselves.
We learn to play roles that fit into the expectations of our surroundings.
From quite young, we learn to adapt to the expectations and demands of our caretakers. We learn different roles, as ways to get approval and love. If we got ‘points’ for being cute or entertaining, it becomes one of our roles. If being obedient, pleasing, pretty, tough, athletic or smart was popular, that became a part of our repertoire. If being loud, sassy, independent, inquisitive or expressive didn’t gain any points, or caused negative reactions or punishment, those behaviors and that part of ourselves receded into the shadows…
Not only did we learn to play roles. As a very young child, we literally took everything personally. If Mommy was in a bad mood, it must be because I did something ‘bad’, or because ‘I’m a bad person’. That is how the brain of a child functions until around age seven.
The child’s sense of who they are and how much they are ‘worth’ evolves from their experiences with their surroundings from birth to age six, and possibly even as early as conception. The most influential programming of the subconscious mind occurs in that period. Moreover, it is this subconscious programming that ‘tells’ us, who we are and how to behave. Even much later in life, when we have completely forgotten a formative, perhaps traumatic event that happened way back when we were only two years old.
So who am I?
It is an ancient spiritual practice to repeatedly pose oneself the question ‘Who am I?’ while in states of deep contemplation. Who am I really underneath all the roles and personality traits it is so easy to identify with? Is there more, and if so, what? The purpose of this practice is to discover and experience oneself beyond the perimeters of personality and programming.
I once got a taste of how this practice works and feels during a personal development course. We were put into pairs, sitting face to face. After being guided into a relaxed, meditative state, we began.
My partner would quietly ask “Who are you?” and then listen attentively, without interrupting or commenting, as I answered. This continued for five or ten minutes, and then we switched roles.
The idea was to keep answering the same question – “Who am I?” — while remaining in a calm, relaxed state throughout to allow for deeper responses to surface.
We were also advised to try avoiding the typical “I am a bookkeeper”, “I am a woman/man” type of answers and go more within.
As you can imagine, it was not so easy. Lots of subconscious programming to wade through…. but when the breakthroughs came… what a glorious moment!
You can try it yourself. Sit comfortably, best in front of a mirror; get into a relaxed, meditative state with some deep breaths. For as long as feels right for you, continue to ask yourself “Who am I” and see how deeply into the core of yourself you can go.
You might be amazed at what this simple process can reveal to you. I would love to hear about your experiences, so please feel free to share and comment.
The grip of subconscious programming
One of the reasons so many healing modalities have grown and flourished in the past years is the discovery that limiting subconscious beliefs about who we are and what is possible for us can be changed. For example, the subconscious belief “I am nothing” can be transformed into a new belief, such as “I am a being of love and light,” or “I am a beloved child of God/the Universe with infinite potential.”
The subconscious belief “I can’t have what I want in life” can be transformed to “I easily fulfill my heart’s desires,” for example. Quite a difference!
It is becoming a more widely known and accepted fact that human beings are complex and intricate creatures, with infinite possibilities. In light of that, what does being yourself really mean? Is there only one ‘you’? Or are there many layers and dimensions to you?
If we have infinite possibilities, then maybe we also have infinite selves… are multi-dimensional somehow. If so, then staying within the confines of self-limiting beliefs, just because ‘we’re used to it’, no longer makes sense. The grip of subconscious programming starts to loosen. A crack of light, a sliver of hope appears, and we begin to wake up from the spell we might not even have realized we were under.
It’s always an encouraging moment to see or sense the light at the end of our own particular tunnel. With renewed strength and motivation, we head for the light. A brighter future is calling, and we don’t want to miss it!
Infinite possibilities = Endless levels and layers of latent potentials to uncover and express.
“WOW! I can’t wait. There’s no stopping me now!”
You can go very far with a clear intention. Once you have seen the ‘light’ and broken the spell of your conditioning, just by seeing it for what it is – the sky is the limit.
You may need to take numerous steps to liberate yourself more fully from your pre-conditioning. However, rest assured, there are many rewards along the way to keep you inspired and heading for the light. Look for them and keep going…
Why is it so important to be your real self, and not only who you turned out to be?
Remember the example in the beginning, when the guest felt awkward not knowing which role to play upon arriving? Being told to ‘just be yourself’ only added to their confusion.
“Mnn, I don’t think I have a ‘Be Myself’ role. Now what?”
If we completely identify ourselves with the roles we play, we lose connection to our inner being, our soul. This makes us much more vulnerable to what others think of us and how they treat us. We have unwittingly given away our power and autonomy. And worst of all, we have become lost unto ourselves. We are in a dark tunnel with no light…
This shows how connection to your real self is of vital importance. Not only for your own sense of aliveness and joy in life. The well-being, peace, joy, and love within you, the essences of your inner being, are also a powerful blessing to the world.
When you grow the love and light within you, when you discover and express your potentials, your soul expands. You are evolving into an exquisite and unique gift to all that is.