D is for “Dare to be you”
Updated: May 12, 2021
“Dare to follow your own paths. Dare to be yourself. Dare to be different.”
To dare to be yourself and live an authentic life aligned with your values takes courage. It takes courage to face up to the fact that you are responsible for your own life and responsible for creating the best version of yourself and living your life to the fullest.
“The hand you are dealt is just the starting point for development” Carol Dweck
We are all born with different strengths and weaknesses, have different values and there is no single set of instructions or prescribed method for creating the best version of ourselves, but we are all born with the ability to create a better version of ourselves each day. We need to do this in a balanced way; looking inwards, developing self-awareness and treating ourselves with unconditional love and acceptance on our journey of self-development.
Self awareness is a necessary key tool when evaluating our strengths and weaknesses; or when reflecting on our behaviour (without blame or denial) so we can learn to act in ways congruent with our own values and needs, even at the risk of criticism or rejection. It is important to spend time reflecting on our core beliefs; examining them then either reinforcing them or rejecting them; looking at our patterns of behaviour and seeing where we need to make changes.
While it’s never a bad thing to seek different ways to improve oneself, we don’t need to “fix” ourselves before we are acceptable to ourselves or anyone else; we are worthy just as we are. We are as important as every other human being and deserve the same respect as anyone else.
“Be what you are. This is the first step toward becoming better than you are.”
Julius Charles Hare
No one is perfect. Any perceived imperfections are characteristics that make us unique and sets us apart from others, allowing us to bring something different and valuable ‘to the table’ rather than being a clone where everything and everyone is the same and has no ‘added value’.
“Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except the best.” Henry Van Dyke
Our perception of who we are changes constantly, as does our perspective of what constitutes a ‘best life’ as the values we have inherited are examined, put to the test, re-honed or changed completely through the many stages of our life.
Throughout our lives our physical self changes constantly as we age from birth to death; the thoughts and feelings coming from our Thinking Self change hourly if not every minute throughout our lives; our roles in life change at different stages of our lives within the family, the community and the wider world and according to what we are doing at the time. It is also possible for us to have multiple roles at the same time e.g. daughter, mother, wife, teacher, friend, student, etc but the Observing Self does not change.
“So the roles you play and your thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, and physical body all change continuously throughout your life. But the Observing Self does not change. The Observing Self is a viewpoint from which to observe everything else –thoughts, feelings, sensations, roles, body etc . But the viewpoint itself never changes.
You can think of it as the part of you that truly 'sees the big picture”' By ‘big picture’ I mean everything you ever experience, everything you ever see, hear, touch, taste, smell, think, feel or do. The Observing Self 'sees' it all.” Russ Harris
The Observing Self is like a neutral observer without any responsibility, it just observes what you do and helps make you more aware enabling you to learn from your experiences. As it doesn’t judge or attach any values, the Observing Self can, as well as being described as ‘pure awareness’, be described as ‘pure acceptance’.
"Champion the right to be yourself; dare to be different and to set your own pattern, live your own life, and follow your own star." Wilfred Peterson
“Who am I?” This is an age old question that we ask ourselves throughout our lives. The need we have to know ourselves guides us to explore and reflect at every age and in every aspect of life. We seek to find what ‘feels right and we can relate to’ as opposed to those things that ‘don’t gel with us’ and are ‘not our thing’. As we go through life we continue to reflect on our life choices with regret or satisfaction based mainly on whether we feel that we have been 'true' to ourselves.
“Stop wearing that mask that is trying to be a match for everybody, and realise that you have to have more of a 1s and 10s model. A 1s and 10s model means that if you want to be a 10 for somebody you have to risk being a 1 for somebody else. [...] You wanna express who you really are.” Steve Pavlina
The people that have the potential to be really happy are those who live authentic lives regardless of other people’s opinions. They don’t wear masks (except when it is compulsory) or pretend to be someone else and don’t let other’s views, wants or ways of doing things restrain them or dictate their actions. When being there for others they know how to prioritise their own needs and thereby remain free to be the best version of themselves for their own integrity. They can give their best to the world by living an authentic life; loving and accepting themselves and others for who they are ‘warts and all’.
“Don't dare to be different, dare to be yourself - if that doesn't make you different then something is wrong.” Laura Baker
Questions of authenticity also determine our opinions of and interactions with others. Honesty, self awareness, openness, integrity and self-confidence or courage are necessary to develop close relationships.
“This is our big chance to see what people think of us. The real us. We have to show them there's nothing to be afraid of. If we don't get over our fears, they never will.” Lisi Harrison
We are made up of multiple parts and in order to be 100% aware we need to acknowledge all facets of our character and make-up not just including the parts of ourselves that we like and understand but also those that we don't. Different situations can bring out different aspects of our character and we learn to become more consistent within these frameworks. The authentic self isn't always perfect, but it is real.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Jim Rohn
Our choice of friends is important not only for our mental health but to enable us to create the lives we want with a good supportive network.
“Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.” Tennessee Williams
It is important to develop friendships that enhance our lives. Good relationships are mutually beneficial. We should look to find people that motivate, inspire, help us and share the same values and reduce the time spent with those that drain our energy. When we work on ourself, we make the lives of those around us better too
“Your network will determine your net worth.” Tim Saunders
It might not always be easy, but everyone can flourish with effort and contribute to a greater sense of their own well- being. It is possible to be diagnosed with mental health difficulties but still flourish, and conversely it is possible to be diagnosis-free but still languish.
What does it mean to flourish?
“We flourish when we cultivate our talents and strengths, develop deep and meaningful relationships, feel pleasure and enjoyment, and make a meaningful contribution to the world. We flourish when we find fulfillment in life along with achieving more traditional objectives related to success when we are truly living the ‘good life’.” Martin Seligman
Flourishing is an action-based happiness – it is not a spectator sport. We cannot flourish just by trying to think positively it is a process that requires action on our part. If we want to flourish, positive thinking has to be accompanied by coherent behaviours and actions.
“Dare to be courageous in life. You have nothing to lose.” Lailah Gifty Akita
When we flourish it has a direct impact on our lives and sense of well-being and happiness and our relationships with other people but if we want everyone to flourish, then we need to be concerned with the welfare of others not just ourselves.
“No society can be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable”. Adam Smith
Acting in accordance with one's core self and values is considered by some as one of three basic psychological needs, alongside competence and a sense of connection to others. Being authentic has many correlations to different aspects of psychological well-being, physical health, sense of self-esteem and our levels of resilience. When we act outside our core values we set up a dissonance which leads to stress and we become a 'poorer version' of our true selves and have poorer interactions with others.
“We are not here to fit in…We are here to be eccentric, different, perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add our small piece, our little clunky, chunky selves, to the great mosaic of being… to become more and more ourselves” James Hollis
Authenticity requires us to continually make active, conscious, informed choices based on accurate self-knowledge. We need to be willing to constantly evaluate nearly everything that we do. By striving to be authentic and accepting all aspects of our lives we can become the best version of ourselves and have the best relationships and sense of connectivity with others.
Some questions to think about/or discuss below:
Do you live a life true to yourself or do you feel pressure to act differently?
Which masks are you tempted to wear?
Do you feel pressurised to put others' wants/needs first rather than practice self-care? If so, why?
Are you confident in yourself to be able to dare to be you regardless of circumstance or company?
When conflicts arise in your thinking, how easy is it to look to your values and not your emotions?
If you are interested in some more reading on the subject, here are a few links to get you started:
“Some people are going to reject you simply because you shine too bright for them; that’s ok keep shining anyway” Mandy Hale