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Rarely anything pissed me off more when I was trying to get my ex back than when someone told me, “just be yourself.” WTF, does that even mean? It’s like someone threw me a Lego set, burned the included instruction, and said, “Just assemble it. You got this.”
Ask any average Joe for ex-back advice, and that’s usually what you’ll hear. Wanna get your ex to text you back. Just be yourself. Wanna get your ex to like you again? Just be yourself. Wanna get your ex to get back together with you? Just be yourself.
Well, what If I’m awkward, uninteresting, and socially inept? What if I’m rude, prejudiced, entitled, or narcissistic? What if I’m an emotional wreck with no boundaries or sense of self, and for who the only source of happiness and meaning is my ex?
Problem solved? I don’t think so.
Years ago, I wanted to kill myself because my ex didn’t like me back. I was insecure and emotionally broken. I had no life, goals, or ambition. Hell, I didn’t even think about my future.
And if I would just keep being myself at the time, I would probably end up actually killing myself — slitting my wrists, shooting myself in the head, hanging myself, you name it, fuckface.
The Drawbacks of Being Yourself
“Being yourself” not only prevents you from having the kind of love life you want, but it also demotivates you to reach beyond your comfort zone and evolve into a better, more attractive person. In a way, the advice keeps people stuck.
Plus, being who you are is entirely contextual. You’re not the same person when traveling to Hawaii or commuting to work. You’re not the same person when you talk to your ex or talk to a best friend. You’re not the same person when you’re inundated with fear of loss or when you feel no fear whatsoever.
For these reasons, I would argue that “being yourself” doesn’t really mean anything, even if it feels like it sometimes. It’s one of those empty phrases like “I need to find out who I am” or “rediscover yourself.”
Hell, being yourself isn’t even possible — it’s an unreachable destination always moving away when you try to grab it. This is because we, humans, aren’t static but always in a state of flux — constantly evolving — sometimes in good ways, other times in bad ones — even if we’re not always aware of it.
And to top it all off, the sole reason you broke up in the first place is probably because you were trying to be yourself.
For instance, if you were needy, controlling, and obsessive and continued to be yourself, you never learned to manage those emotional blemishes. Hence, they probably contributed to your breakup as they contribute to destroying your chances now that you’re working toward mending your relationship.
Transforming “Be Yourself” Into Good Advice
As you’d guessed, “Be yourself” is perhaps the most well-intentioned yet least helpful advice you’ll ever receive. But there is a way to make it helpful.
Whenever someone tells you “be yourself,” do a mental translation of the phrase into “be more resilient, relaxed and confident,” or simply, “be better.”
You see, when people tell you to be yourself, they’re not saying to accept the habits and quirks that hold you back from becoming the most attractive person you can be.
If you’re a sucker for validation, needy, emotionally erratic, and codependent, that’s not you. If you have a negative disposition and a bitter outlook upon the world, that’s not you. If you’re overweight, unattractive, or simply feel like an unworthy sack of shit, that’s not you.
When someone tells you to “be yourself,” they’re not telling you to act as though these things are true.
What they’re actually telling you is to develop a strong identity and assert the everlasting fuck out of it. Decide specifically who you’re going to be, independent of your ex, embody the identity, and lead your life based on it. Find happiness and approval within; don’t make your ex responsible for it.
How To Be The Person You Want to Be
A beautiful exercise to put this theory into practice is to imagine what your ideal version would be — the behavior, looks, vibe, goals, etc. — write it down somewhere, and marshal yourself into it.
So what does your ideal version of yourself look like?
They’re probably in shape and have a good sense of style. They probably have a life and don’t make their happiness revolve around an ex. They’re probably relaxed and confident. They’re probably ambitious. They probably take good care of themselves — mentally, emotionally, and physically. They’re probably comfortable with sharing what they think and feel. They probably have character — a set of mental and moral qualities distinctive to them that they don’t feel afraid of defending or vindicating. They probably live in the moment and are unworried whether or not their ex texted them back. Hell, they probably don’t even want their ex back since they know they can do so much fucking better — they know that their ex is not special.
These are all universally attractive traits and behaviors you exhibit when you’re comfortable and confident with yourself. But this is only half of what it means to be the person you want to be.
The other half is your half. It’s a half where you and I will differ markedly, and it’s going to gain you a lot of love and lose you a lot of it, but you have to do it — even if it means throwing away any chances of getting back with your ex. And you have to do it on your own. Or else, you will emotionally and spiritually obliterate yourself, and like me years ago, get struck by a death wish.
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