Being yourself is not easy, but it’s worth the risk. The song, “This Is Me,” by Keala Settle & The Greatest Showman Ensemble, might inspire your effort.
[ music ] . Hi, this is Rob Sepich, and welcome to Relaxing with Rob. How comfortable are you in your own skin? When much of our identity seems to be shaped by how we want others to see us, being comfortable can be difficult. And who you are today might feel different than who you were last year. And what research shows is we underestimate, at any age, how different we're going to feel next year. In classic Buddhist teachings, there is no "self," at least not an abiding, solid self that we usually think of. I saw a cartoon once of a student seeking guidance from a teacher asking something like, "If there is no self, whose back pain is this?" I'm sure you've heard the advice to "be yourself." And although it m ight sound simple, it's not easy. But I do think it's an excellent path to stress reduction, and today I'll tell you how. Back in high school, I spent my first three years trying to be somebody--anybody--who could fit in and make friends. By senior year, I gave up. And without consciously trying to "be myself," I think that's what I did. It's like my defenses dropped because I just didn't have the energy to act like anybody else. And the most incredible things happened. I started making friends, really good friends, several of whom I still have today. Why? Because apparently being myself was good enough. A student was interviewing for local part-time internships the semester she took my stress management class. And she was telling us how after a series of rejections, always trying to act the part she thought the agencies were looking for, she ran out of opportunities. And on her way to the last possible interview, she was talking with her Uber driver about this and he told her, "Just be yourself; you'll get an offer." Like it was that easy. Well, she decided to try it, and she got the internship, which led to a great job in another city right after she graduated. Then about a year and a half later, she was back in town for a friend's graduation, and by sheer coincidence, she recognized her Uber driver that weekend as the same guy who offered her that advice before. She had an opportunity to provide a thank you and follow- up story, which apparently made him really happy. And I'm so glad she stayed in touch with me, so I could hear the follow- up. Being yourself can pay off. Carl Rogers, the world famous psychologist and researcher said, "What I am is good enough, if I would only be it openly." I think that condition is an important one, because lots of us get to the point of privately accepting ourselves, but we're afraid to let others in for fear of rejection--if they really knew us. But when we can be ourselves openly, friendships become more solid. And without that, we start relationships based on our social selves and we grow fearful if our friends or partners could see our true selves. Maybe this has happened to you, where the difference between how you act and how you actually feel grows larger, and you feel less and less genuine. And maintaining that duality can be incredibly stressful. So why do we do it? Probably because it feels too scary to be our true selves. I have a friend--an extremely bright and compassionate student who was graduating from a challenging major with solid career options. But she painfully figured out that this path would be a poor match for her personality and her values. And telling her parents felt risky because they really wanted her to be financially secure, but it meant my friend couldn't be herself. Difficult as it was, she gathered the strength to break the news about her new path, one with less security, but with plenty of food for the soul. Fortunately, they got it. And once she began on her new path, it's incredible how many doors opened. I admire her for this, as it took courage, but she'll be the first to say it was worth it. So here's an experiment to try if you'd like to be yourself--only more openly. Take an area of your life, or simply a problem you're facing--in school or your job or a relationship--in which you can sense a gap between how you feel and how you act. Now, focus on how you're feeling and think to yourself the statement, "This is me." Take a slow and deep breath. And as you're exhaling, think again, "This is me." And now think about how you're acting, and see if an option for a slight change in direction comes to mind. It could be subtle, but if it seems even a bit more consistent with how you're feeling, take it. By doing this, with a little time, you might find it leads to significant changes. Rest assured that you could always return to the path you were on, simply with more knowledge about alternatives. So in other words, you're just making a mid-course correction. It might lead to a right angle change or even a U-turn, but becoming yourself doesn't have to occur that suddenly to be ultimately that powerful. Thank you for listening, and we'll talk again soon. [ music ] .