I just have to be me?

Do you feel like you have to work hard to hide the unacceptable version of you that lurks in the background? Has this started to become exhausting? Read on for how to be relieved of this effort.

“It takes a lot of energy to be a person. It takes no energy to be yourself.” Mooji

In 2020 I had the realisation — ‘I just have to be me!’ Oh the relief felt in that moment. It was beautiful. All effort dissolved. Freedom!

I saw how, in my work with clients, there’d always been this tension to get it right, be a good coach, make a big enough difference. Trying to hold it all together so nobody would see through to (what I thought was) the ‘real’ me.

Prior to this realisation, if anyone had said to me ‘you just have to be you’, it would have been met with a question mark, as in the title of this piece, disbelief that this was, or could ever be, enough.

And probably before that, it would have been met with ‘oh I don’t think so — you don’t know what I’m really like. I’d be in trouble! You’d hate me’. This terrible me looked like the real me that had to be kept hidden at all costs.

So let’s walk through those seeing what’s happening with each de-layering of confusion.

‘Oh I don’t think I can just be myself, you don’t know what I’m really like’

This is the fear that most of my clients are walking around with. That there is an awful me in here and I have to work really hard to cover it over with acceptable behaviours and ‘normal’ opinions and perspectives. If I don’t keep working at it, the awful me will show through and then the game will be up!

Notice that thing about ‘normal’ opinions and perspectives, or ‘normal’ behaviour. Do you find you adjust and shift to fit in with who you’re with? Do you feel like a chameleon trying to fit in (and stay safe) based on who you’re with and therefore what counts as acceptable or ‘normal’?

This adjusting isn’t bad or wrong, it makes perfect sense given we humans are relational, and designed for cooperation, but the effort and trying with it is exhausting. The mind working overtime scanning for clues and cues and then trying to figure out the ‘right’ response.

Have you seen how this can lead to two possible outcomes? One is that you don’t say anything, you’re so caught up in your head trying to figure out what’s ‘right’ that no words can be found. And the second is that you blurt something really inappropriate and off-beat with the situation. I’ve totally done both!

And it was always taken as more evidence of ‘you see, you really aren’t good enough and need to try harder to keep the terrible you hidden’. I didn’t know that ‘evidence’ wasn’t evidence of that at all. I’ll connect back to this later…

‘Just be myself? But that can’t be enough?

From the beginning (and I’ve done it with my kids too) we’ve been taught that there’s something I need to be, do or have in order to be loved, appreciated, valued.

Society is set up with a carrot and stick mentality and that ‘if you do that, then you’ll get…’

From the simplest moments, this narrative begins that says ‘I don’t deserve that so I mustn’t be enough. One that I remember with my kids (and who knows what effect it might have had) was that if they called for me I’d say ‘Just a minute’ or ‘Hang on, I’m just going to…’ or ‘Just finishing…’ All inncoent as those things looked important to me to do at that time, and it looked like I needed to do them first before going to the child, but quite possibly this set up within them the idea that they came second to the washing, the cooking, the work — whatever the ‘thing’ was that I just wanted to spend an extra minute on to finish. Those things looked more important to me — to tick it off my list, so I could feel better, because then I would have ‘done’ something that made me worthy or enough…all stemming from my own conditioning that said the same story — ‘do this and then you deserve…love / happiness / rest.’

The theme then continues with education and work, always a ‘next thing’ to do to be deserving. And then with coaching, the ongoing CPD and the next tool or approach to learn. Being taken into client sessions like psychological armour to prove that I’m worth my salt because look at all the models and theories I’ve learnt and can use with you.

Nothing wrong with the tools and models, nothing wrong with learning, or wanting to progress and be more challenged in our work, but doing and using these things from a place of lack — from a belief that ‘I’m not enough just as I am’ — creates a huge tension within us.

What you are knows you’re already perfect just as you are. And always have been. So the confusion in the system when a narrative is believed that says ‘no you’re not perfect at all! You need to do this first’ — is huge!

It really is like your psychological conditionning trying to push a torrent of loving river back upstream to its source. Oh the effort! And the futility.

This confusion in the system is what I was feeling when I believed the ‘evidence’ in the section above as a truth. When you believe any thought as a truth it feels bad. And so to believe such a fundamental one as ‘you really aren’t good enough and need to try harder to keep the terrible you hidden’ — that creates alot of bad feelings! Because it’s really un-true. And that’s cool — because those bad feelings can now become a wake-up alarm, instead of being taken as evidence of being really broken.

And understanding what those bad feelings are telling you is then what increasingly deepens you into (or gives you a sudden realisation of )—

‘I just have to be me!’

And all of this is why the realisation that ‘I just have to be me’ is so relieving. Why there’s such a release and a ‘phew!’. A deep settling of the system back into what was already true.

All the effort of ‘trying’ to be something else and ‘trying’ to fix what was never broken, can stop.

And then, weirdly, and totally surprisingly to the mind that runs all that conditioning, you stop getting tongue tied, you stop blurting inappropriately, you stop ‘needing’ to do things ‘in order to…

And then, also weirdly, you find yourself being honest about how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking and it’s not met with the telling-off that the mind imagined. It’s not met with rejection. And even if the person does leave your life, or the work does end, you also now see that that is OK too.

Because now you know — within — that you are OK. Absolutely fundamentally. The comings and goings of life are just that, and they will always be so, and you can laugh about them and cry about them, but none of them say anything about your essential OK-ness. Your essential you-ness.

That is always and already perfect, unharmed, and whole.

And then the question that always comes…so how do I do this?

The conditioned mind that causes the seeming problem of efforting and tension, also wants to know how to solve itself. How to get rid of itself.

But there is no solution, nothing is broken. What would there be to fix? You are already enough.

AND you can look and understand the conditioning.

Think of it like this, if a little kid came up to you, upset because their favourite toy had just been stood on and broken, a loving response would be to be with them in their sadness, to understand the logic to them of their tears. You’d see that their thinking makes sense to them and so their tears make sense. Even though within, you know they’re OK. You know this isn’t a problem. A loving response wouldn’t dismiss them and say ‘don’t be ridiculous, it’s just a toy!’ you would be with them.

Same for us. Conditioned thinking isn’t broken and so it doesn’t need fixing. It’s not a problem, it just needs to be seen and understood. Not dismissed or diminished. Not stuffed away under the carpet in the hopes nobody spots it. Not covered over with more learning, more tools, more techniques, more impressive connections / clients / fancy titles to ‘make me better’. And also not solved with ‘thought-fixing techniques’. It’s not broken. And it’s not who you really are.

All that’s needed is for this conditioning to be seen and understood. And then, like the child with the car, it dissipates and disperses. It goes off, no longer needing to fight for airtime.

And what’s left is you. The essence of you. The real you. Now having the connected feeling of enough-ness that you’d always been looking for in the right behaviours / progression / learning / impressiveness.

So now, all you need do is:

  1. Notice and consider that times of settled enough-ness and OK-ness are you feeling Your Self. You’re feeling your essential nature. This is the real you that’s really there before all the ideas of being a ‘terrible you’ and before all the efforting to appear acceptable and enough.
  2. Notice and consider that times of working hard to be a ‘better’ or ‘the best’ you are the feeling of the confusion of conditioning fighting back the truth that you’re already perfect and whole.
  3. And consider that conditioning doesn’t need to be fixed or manually got rid of, just loved and understood.

With love, Helen

If you’re a coach and you’d like to bring loving understanding to the conditioning that’s hiding your already-enough-ness, join this 8-week programme to do just that. Doors close Friday 28th Jan 2022. Chances are if you’ve read to here this is totally for you! But if you want to talk, email me here.

I coach and guide smart, passionate, curious people who care about improving the lives of those around them. Often coaches and leaders, they’ve worked hard all their lives to be the ‘best’ them and it doesn’t seem to have delivered the happiness, security or freedom they expected. Now they’re wondering what else is available. I guide you back, prior to stories, to remember the real you because that’s what you, me and the whole world really wants! Find out more here.

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