I stumbled on being myself by accident.
Life is funny like that.
What I’m about to share with you represents strategies that have worked for me. None of this is all-inclusive or the definitive guide, and learning how to like yourself and build a relationship with yourself is a process that takes years to get remotely good at.
I’ve figured out how to forge my path in life. I write, host a podcast, record hundreds of videos on YouTube, and am generally outspoken about my opinions.
I’m an entrepreneur and CEO of a company I started. The traits I’ve developed over the years are conducive to doing your own thing, but they are unnecessary. So whether you want to work for yourself or be an employee or travel the world and live frugally, whatever it is, is entirely up to you.
You need a relationship with yourself first and foremost.
Don’t let anyone tell you anything else.
Which leads me to the first principle of living with yourself: accept that your relationship with yourself is your first priority in this life.
You’ve probably grown up in an industrialized, Western culture. As a result, you have specific ideas implanted in your subconscious through years of living as an object for others to mold.
Your parents convince themselves that they want what’s best for you, but the reality is they want what’s best for themselves. The same is true for your girlfriends, boyfriends, brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents, coworkers, etc.
This is an inconvenient truth of our species that so many ignore—egoism: the reality that humans approach the world their their own self-serving bias first and foremost.
When you accept that people do what is best for the first, you can start thinking differently about the outside influencers from the people and culture around you. You can start asking whether this thing makes sense rather than blindly following it because someone else said you should.
Once you accept this of other people, you must accept it for yourself.
Now, this might give you pause. You might think this is selfish or egotistical.
But here’s the thing: you are selfish and egotistical because you are human. There’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with it unless you believe there is. And to a certain extent, if you become entirely selfish without considering others or the impact your actions will have on others, yes, it can become destructive and sway too far in the wrong direction.
The funny thing here is once you accept you are a selfish creature, you are granted the ultimate power to actually becoming less selfish and more compassionate and empathetic to people around you.
Since this will help you evolve above shame and guilt and societal pressure, you can make more precise, better decisions and unapologetically be who you are, which is always the best person you can be.
Mother Teresa dedicated her life to the poor because she wanted to. No one forced her to do this. Is this selfish or not? Is she not deriving benefit from what she is doing?
If someone sacrifices their life to save another, maybe their child, is that not a selfish act? Of course. It is so selfish of an act that one gives up her life to do so.
The idea around selfishness and what’s good or bad are nothing but mental creations.
Something is only good or bad if you believe it is. Nature is a place defined by cause and effect.
When the tiger eats the gazelle, is this good or bad or is it just a part of nature and the cycle of life?
Should we lock the tiger up in tiger jail because it committed murder?
When you start seeing through the Matrix that society has created for you, you can begin to accept who you are because you realize that all of your shame and guilt and conditioning around who you are not means NOTHING unless you say it does.
Which leads me to the next point: choice.
You cannot live with yourself until you choose to accept yourself
We talked about selfishness first because until you remove your negative judgments about being selfish, you’ll never be able to embrace who you are. You will forever try to alter yourself to fit someone else’s values.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, that is contrary to your nature, which is why it doesn’t work.
As you erode away the social conditioning of society that has turned you into an indoctrinated citizen, it is incumbent on you to choose what to do next.
It might seem like your only choice is to accept who you are and not appreciate you as a gift of nature, but that is not necessarily where you will go. Who knows where you will go.
You must choose to accept who you are first. Then you must choose to cultivate your opinion of yourself to one that is compassionate towards yourself, even proud.
Anything in life worth having comes first from wanting it, from desire.
If you don’t desire something, you can’t achieve it. And if you achieve it on accident, you won’t hold it if you don’t desire it.
Desire and choice go hand and hand. Until you want to be happy with yourself, you won’t be.
Choice is a prerequisite to being who you are.
Strategies for being who you are
Now that we’ve covered some of the philosophy of being who you are, let’s get into some actionable tips you can use in your life to move along this journey.
Like I said at the start, these aren’t exhaustive, and your results with these will vary.
Read books, especially biographies.
Learn from other people throughout history. Try to see how the most impactful change-makers in history were usually shunned by society.
The more you remind yourself that society is not here to help you flourish, you’ll start distancing yourself from its pull. This can take years of training, so don’t expect this to come overnight.
One way to remove suffering and conditioning is to get better at being in the moment and silencing your mind.
Mindfulness, mediation, hobbies, sports, and other mediums that bring you entirely into the now have tremendous power to displace much of the mental gunk clogging up your mind.
Take a daily walk in the sun. Let your mind wander.
Go into nature and listen to the sounds. Walk barefoot.
Do some exercise each day—pushups, situps, planks, squats, stretches, sprints, swim, etc.
The more you invest in your physical health, the more confidence you will build, and the better your brain will work.
Curate the people in your life
They say you are the average of the people you spend the most time with. They are right.
If you want to become free from guilt, shame, and the conditioning of society, you must first start with the people you spend time with.
If you spend time with judgemental people, you will become judgemental.
If you spend time with controlling, manipulative people that are always complaining, you will become the same.
On the flip side, if you find people that are free, unique, original, and love themselves, you will absorb these traits yourself.
It is a journey
I'm 35 as a write this and I still feel like I have a long way to go.
I've made massive strides in becoming who I am in the past few years. It seems like some of this progress has happened fast.
The reality is, I'm been learning and growing for my entire adult life.
Every year I feel a bit more like myself, and a bit more confident in who I am.
In fact, every year I feel like a different person.
I think this is an important metric you can use to track your progress.
Every year, are you growing, evolving, and become more happy with yourself?