It seems intuitively people know how to "be yourself." However, I have a few problems:
- It seems paradoxical. How can you NOT be anything but yourself? It's like the oxymoron "act naturally."
- One of my inner desires involves the supression of my flaws and self-improvement. If I were to "be myself," would that involve surpressing that desire? If so, then is "being yourself" contradictory to change?
- Where does learning fit in? You may hear the aphorism "be yourself" when your friend notices you acting uptight at a club. However, a few minutes later, he may offer some criticism of your social behavior, such as, "stop acting the fool."
In my limited literature review, I found a two locii: identity crisis and self-actualization.
Identity crisis involves situations where people are committing to a false identity. But what makes one identity false and other's not?
Self-actualization is one of Maslow's terms, which involves cultivating your true potential. Again, what is your true potential? Here is some criticism from Heylighen
Though the need hierarchy seems relatively simple and consistent, the concept of self-actualization is not clearly defined. There is a difficulty with the concept of "actualization" itself, because it presupposes that there is somehow a well-defined set of potential talents an individual is capable of developing, but a human system is much too complex to allow the discrimination between "potential" developments and "impossible" ones.
The Greeks inscribed the maxim "Know Thyself" on the Sun god Apollo's Oracle of Delphi temple. However, I've studied myself, written countless journal entries, and seem to know every little thing about myself. And yet, I don't really think I'm being myself.
However, this may have something more to do with "self-acceptance." But then again, where do you draw the line between self-acceptance and challenging your limits?
What strategies do you employ to "be yourself?"