The phrase JUST BE YOURSELF has always confused me when it comes to relating to other people. Obviously we all want to get along with others. We want this because it just feels nice, and because relating well to others is correlated with all kinds of perks like better health, an increase in happiness and a longer life.
But does it mean that when I get annoyed in the grocery line that I should let the person in front of me know that they are taking too long? I mean, they are taking too long and I’m annoyed. I’m thinking it. It’s how part of me truly feels. But would blurting that out make me an insensitive jerk? It probably wouldn’t help in the “relating to people well” department So I decide not to say it. Obviously being myself can’t include saying EVERYTHING I think.
So when can I say how I feel, when can I say what I think? The answer lies in the following thought:
Once you know who you are, you begin to realize that YOU are made up of many parts.
One part may be saying, “Yell at the slow poke!” Another part might be saying, “Maybe the guy is having a bad day.” Another part wonders, “Is it just me, am I just really irritable today?” By looking at the other parts of myself I can then ask, which part of me should get voiced in that moment, and which parts of me should be gently told “shhh”?
Doing this little exercise allows me to hear all parts of myself, but since my goal (most of the time) is to relate well to others I am drawn to the part of me that is my BEST self. By checking in with the various parts of myself, then giving a voice to the part that is the wisest or most compassionate, I find that I can brush off many potentially volatile moments.
Be careful though, being your BEST you doesn’t mean you have to act perfectly or be perfect in any way. Sometimes my best self would rather write than clean the kitchen or take my kids on a picnic instead of making a gourmet meal. Sometimes my best self calls for a nap to prevent grouchiness. My best self tells me that I really don’t know what is going on with the person in front of me in the grocery line, so maybe it is better to have compassion.
Of course, our best attempts at being our best selves may fall short. Chances are that from time to time you will snap at someone you love, allow frustration to run your mouth or forget to be grateful. It’s okay to apologize and join the legions of other people whose best selves make mistakes and move on. So go ahead and be you. Just try and be your best you.
Nicole C Weiss LCSW
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