Why ‘be true to yourself’ beats ‘be yourself’

You have probably heard it a fair few hundred times and will probably hear it a few million more times (unless this post sweeps the world by storm). I have heard it many a time, usually not directed at me but as a general message to people. But before I rant on and slam this phrase with Thor’s hammer, I must accept its defence.

The notion of being who you are and not being someone who you are not seems like common sense. ‘Be yourself’ is used to enforce this when we’re not using all of our common sense. People do get off track, start living someone else’s life and this phrase helps them get back. It’s important for you to live your life. But now you’ve heard the defence so allow me to highlight the major flaws in the ‘be yourself’ mumjago.

Firstly, who’s right is it to tell me to be myself. It seems paradoxical, how could anyone know what myself is better than myself? Maybe if they’re a good fried, but what if myself changes. People often use ‘be yourself’ to stop you from changing. People often say things like “you would never have done that a year ago” in conjunction with ‘be yourself’. The truth is you’re a different person. I’m more like one of my friends now than me at 5 years old. If we all stayed the same we’d still be sitting in caves just waiting for a bear to eat us.

Secondly, this phrase is far too ubiquitous, often when it’s not an accurate so called ‘solution’. It’s impact (which I am not a huge fan of) is almost lost through the abundance of its use. That almost cancels out the first problem, but I do have a solution, another phrase you’ve probably heard before.

“Be true to yourself.” It’s amazing how the words ‘true’ and ‘to’ improve ‘be yourself’ tenfold. Trusting yourself is actually a lot harder than it sounds. Not just trusting the decisions you make, but trusting in your abilities. ‘Be true to yourself’ doesn’t have the boundaries of ‘be yourself’ because it doesn’t tell me what to be or what not to be. It’s a lot more forgiving. I can change, be different and do great things and still be true to myself.

I think this video works quite well here:

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