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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Be Yourself

 “Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinion drown your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

Be yourself! No, I mean it. Don't be anything else but yourself. Cultures, media, employers, co-workers, friends and families may want you to be something or someone else, but do not falter, don't give in. As Steve Jobs reminds us "Your time is limited, don't waste it living someone else's life."

We are continually bombarded with an entourage of guilt trips, sermons, lectures and reprimands on how we should be something that we may or may not be:

  • Nicer/Meaner
  • Gentler/Tougher
  • Quicker/Slower
  • Spiritual/Down to earth
  • Passionate/Placid
  • Serious/Lighthearted
  • Feminine/Manly 
  • Brave/Fearful
  • Sporadic/Cautious
The list is endless. We don't all face the same circumstances in life, but we all face these personality altering suggestions. 

While it is often others whom are guilty of putting these expectations upon us, the greatest perpetrator of all, more often then not, is our very own-selves.

We have all heard the saying, "I am my own worst enemy.". This concept is the closest thing to truth that I know.  Many opportunities have slipped me by, due to this personal enemy. It seems as though a constant battle is evoked within me. A battle between what seems to be myself and another. One whom would, perhaps, seek to destroy me or at most hinder me. Spies of all parties traverse the landscapes of my heart, mind and soul, adding their influence from without.

I must seek to understand this conflict. I must look back, review and analyze this thing called my life.

And so a brief intro, to a longer analyses, is in order.

I have been conditioned, as I believe we all are to some extent or another, from the day I was born for good and bad, intentionally and unintentionally. One of the most dangerous conditionings that I can recall is a practice that I myself, and I'm sure there are others, derived from the "christian" culture. A culture that I was deeply immersed in, particularly that of Evangelicalism. The condition? The denial of the self. I was taught, trained and moulded to continually deny the self. While I believe that there are very important aspects to the practice of this, I also believe that within this there contains a great and mighty harm. I must, however, give appreciation and grace to the hearts of those whom held such influence over me, as they were doing only that of which they felt was the right of way and what they themselves have been conditioned to do also. To them, I give thanks for their concern, no matter how miss guided it may have been (Please note, unless someone mistake me for the condoning of misled actions, I do not thank them for what they did, but rather, only for whatever pure motives that may have driven them to do so.).

The war has been ongoing for as long as I can remember and I am afraid I have lost memory of it's commencement and reasons for it. [The more I think about it the more I understand why I'm in counselling and the blessing of it.] I don't even know why I am fighting any more and if I am even on the "right" side. 

 One could say that I am a recovering Evangelical, and may always be so.

However, hope remains.


“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – 
George Eliot

To be continued...

6 comments:

Grant said...

Just to be disagreable. If the Scripture says we are to deny Self, then the counsel is not wrong and it will not have a negative result. BUT is that what the Scripture says? Or is is speaking of denying the "flesh", or more specifically the "lusts" of the flesh, to 'selfish' "pleasure"? I think in actual fact the word describes as "lust" means only an ambition or desire, and depends on the context to determine if such "ambition" is good or bad. BUT, the point is that IF we are to live life to the fullest, then the whole purpose of "putting to death" the flesh, is so that the true "Self" is the one in control. The Will, or even ID must have the power to "control" the base appetites. Put another way "I" am not my stomach or my sex drive or my position and power. But if these are seen as the Self, and are "denied" or brought under "self or Spirit control" then the person that is truly "ME" is liberated to be "who I really am.".
If the true me, is artistic but I can't control my desire for alchohol, the artistic "ME" is submerged in the fogged mind and limited physical stregth or ability. Thus to "deny self" as in the giving in to drink, would be to discover the ME that I am and needs to be set free.
THIS I think is the conept in the Scripture and what evangelicals OUGHT to be concerned about.
It has been said, concerning "Law" and the same is true of this "denying of self"> "I don't HAVE to if I WANT to." or "Others CANNOT, but I CAN NOT do particular things>" Denial of Self is really the assertion of the ME over the flesh (appetites/ambitions) and is in fact the ONLY way to gain the "ABUNDANT LIFE" when the Spirit is set free.

Some people of course are most "being themselves" by being what others suggest that they be... Because they have not come to the place to see themselves as unique bits of "workmanship" created by God to do their particular task.
The FB status shared this week:
"Be yourself. After all, all the others are already taken."

Kmarie said...

I liked your note and list. Be being yourself and writing this post you will help some and that is where the beauty lies. I love you. Xox

Anonymous said...

I'm with you both on that = it seems people can't help but put onto each other their expectations which are based more on what will make them feel comfortable, and have nothing to do with knowing and affirming the person (us) as we are,without having to adjust or change us.
There are a few, though...where the opposite is true.
Like you two!
Thanks - Miriam

Philip A. said...

Grant- I agree with you, though we may arrive at these thoughts by different avenues. Good thoughts.

Kmarie- Thanks, your right there is much beauty in that.

Miriam- Thanks for the compliment. I wish I could say it was always so, but to be honest, I feel as though I may not be dong so, at least not with myself. I try.

Trish said...

I think, almost too simply perhaps, that denying one's self is not the point, but putting one's self interest ahead of another's personal self fulfillment, that is where I have an issue. I KNOW who I am, and am self contained (I've been reading Covey as I am studying leadership and authentic leadership). But I do know that any success in the 'outside world' or the world with 'others' is putting 'self interest' aside. That is not the same as 'self'. I define self as ME....my essence. That I won't deny. I can't, it is me. Good grief, am I making any sense? Grin.

Trish said...

grrrr.....I think I said something semi intelligent here and I lost it...smile. Lets try that again.

Self Denial. How can one deny self? But there is something fundamentally simple here or am I just too simple myself? I think it depends on how one defines 'self'. For me, self is ME....my essence, who I am. No-one should deny this....it is god given. It is who we are. But putting 'ego' or selfishness or 'ones own personal interest' ahead of someone elses' so that they cannot achieve their own personal success or fulfillment...that is not kosher. That should be self-denial...better yet, selflessness. I like that word better. Just saying .... this is my creed. And as I am studying leadership these days in management style and reading a lot of Covey and similar authors, I'd say that 'authentic self' is what we should strive for. I suspect that any great historical teacher of wisdom did not really mean denial of self or one's essence, but rather, how we take that 'self' or ego into the rest of the world that we affect. Good thoughts expressed here. Yes, we, many of us, have these deep rooted impressions of how to live our lives and much can be located in our religious upbringings...for sure. But the wisdom in living our lives is understanding the root of the teachings we adhered to. If we can eliminate the doctrines and man made interpretations and get to the essence I suspect that we can find peace. Yes, peace in self wisdom and self understanding. I know for a fact, yes this I know, that my personal success and work success has a direct co-relation to removing 'ego'. My two determiners in my job are these...1) am I being authentic when I handle a situation and 2) have I removed 'self interest' from the problem. If I can say yes, I know that I have eliminated guilt, angst, 'righteous indignation' or whatever else might deter me in coming to a simple and clear solution.