‘Be Yourself’ – Bad Advice?

Today’s video I’ve been wanting to share with you for a while.

There’s a piece of advice you’ve heard hundreds of times before that could be really holding you back.

‘Be yourself’. Seems like good advice right?

That’s what makes this line so insidious.

On the surface we feel it’s helpful, but the truth is it rarely serves us.

When someone says ‘be yourself’ all it does is give us validation for staying the same and not taking risks.

It’s a polite way of saying, ‘be who you are now, don’t explore being more evolved, advanced, or daring.’

It implies you know who you are, but do you really?

Many of us when asked this look in the rear-view mirror, looking at who we’ve been in the past.

I don’t think that our behaviours and habits are who we are. We should never confuse who we are at our core with the behaviours we’ve adopted over time.

There are parts of ourselves we won’t have experienced in a long time, or that we’ve never experienced because we haven’t pushed ourselves in certain directions.

We find out who we are by having new experiences, adventures, by trying things, figuring out what we like and don’t like, and by judging our actions upon reflection.

But we only know all this when we take chances.

If I had followed the advice ‘be yourself’ I never would have stepped up on stage to start public speaking. I was terrified of it growing up and thought I didn’t enjoy it. But once I began to get good at it, I began to adopt it as part of ‘me’.

We always have to be questioning who we think we are.

When did you decide you were any one thing? And how do you know it’s really true?

Stop trying to sit there ‘discovering’ who you are, and start DESIGNING who you want to be.

Figure out who you want to be and the goals you want to have.

–What type of person do you have to be to achieve these goals?

This is a much more practical question than trying to discover who we are.

Are you choosing the route you’re choosing because it’s really who you are, or are you saying this is who you are to avoid something you’re afraid of?

Keep taking risks, mess around with who you are, try new things, and dabble in different ideas and with different personality traits to come to a conclusion yourself from the experiences you have in your life.

If you want to hear more about this type of stuff, my Retreat program is the place where I really get into this. It’s where I go deep, helping you figure out what you really want from your life. I have one program left this year that’s not sold out in Florida in November. To check out more about it, click here.

Question of the day…

What’s one new personality trait you can try on for size this week? How can you shake things up and do something you wouldn’t normally? Let me know in the comments below!

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89 Replies to “‘Be Yourself’ – Bad Advice?”

    1. Matthew, how can we focus at an important task when we are unable to overcome our fear and anxiety of the task at hand? Thank you, Matthew!

  • Experiences test an individuals morals and values..Etc. and that is what makes a person who they are….These ‘tests’ help you and also allow you to DISCOVER YOURSELF!!

    i’ve definitely learnt a lot this year, about myself my strengths and weaknesses.

    1. I love your thought Amanda when you say that our choices through the moral experiences determine who we are (in this stage of mortality :). I also believe that who we are is the present and who we were is the past.

  • Hi Matt,

    so me trying bunch of new things – that’s my self now! And it is so enriching experience, so little summary:
    1) As I already mentioned you, I have registered for that dating site and met already 2 very nice guys, I think we can be friends, with one of them I practice my Spanish, so I’m improving my language skills :)
    2) I started new sports: H.E.A.T. and Korean martial arts, sth I have been planning for so long and now I’m truly enjoying it.
    3) I have tried a new gym and registered there just yesterday, so I have a real commitment with the gym :) But good for me, since there are many men around :)
    4) I have registered for your Keep the Guy program and received your DVDs. Also sth I have been planning for so long and now is the time to go further and learn sth more.

    So I’m social sporty Petra open to new learning ;)

  • Hi Matthew, I’m always being myself because my nature is to do new stuff, try new stuff, take chances etc, but what you say is spot on for anyone who is unsure how to grow. However, most things I do are a huge challenge as I’m constantly battling my anxiety. My next challenge is when I will travel from Devon up to London as I’m having a coaching session with one of your team, so very nervous. I’m also hoping to go on one of your retreats next year, if I can overcome my fears! Thank you for being a great role model for all of us Matthew xoxo

  • Hi Matthew i hope you have a really Nice day.
    But i have one question for you what can you do if your parents get divorce?
    I mean what can you do to handle it better? They Get now relationtherapy but it’s really hard for uss because sometimes i Get so angry for That and than i can’t handle myself i’m Also frustded because i can’t no to talk About it only my twinsister and my older sister and my Mother but they are Also stuck in this routine what can i do??
    My internship Goes good Ok you have boys Who act very childish it’s very iriteded sometimes and they think more with there underside if you know what i mean -____- Luckly i think more with my brains haha :P
    Have a Nice day Matthew lovely Greetz Thirza

  • Hi Matt

    This video really struck a chord with me because this is something that I’m struggling with at the moment and probably have been for a while after a series of destructive relationships left me confused about who I am.

    I am trying to work through it though and will heed your great advice.

    Thank you

    Jo x

  • Hello, Matt! I’ve learned from you that we should always strive for better life becoming more than we already are, and that’s a profound thought. I’ve read this book that my friend sent me “The Road Less Traveled,” and thought how simple it is—just have to be myself. . . and honest (“They are not burdened by any need to hide. They do not have to slink around in the shadows. They do not have to construct new lies to hide old ones. They need waste no effort covering tracks or maintaining disguises . . . people dedicated to the truth live in the open, and through the exercise of their courage to live in the open, they become free from fear.” Pg 51). And it makes me happy to hear you saying that it is possible to be ourselves without even exposing ourselves to stagnation because honesty and therefore ‘yourselfness’ is the freedom from fear (e.g. public speaking as a risk taking), and therefore, there the key to progress and success. Yourselfness and growth can get along indeed! :)

    Love your thoughts in this video:

    “I don’t think that our behaviours and habits are who we are. We should never confuse who we are at our core with the behaviours we’ve adopted over time.” Brilliant! We don’t always realize that outside behaviours stick to us with a time overshadowing our soul-born behavior.

    “Stop trying to sit there ‘discovering’ who you are, and start DESIGNING who you want to be.”Loving it and the words you using “start DESIGNING”! Very inspiring thought which reminds me of this video (reminds me of you too:)


    “Figure out who you want to be and the goals you want to have.”Here laid a map to success :)

    “. . . mess around with who you are, try new things. . .” and that’s my favorite thought! I should really start messing around or I’ll miss all of the adventures 

    Thanks again, Matthew, for everything you do! Xx :) 

  • Hi Matt,

    in response to the question of the day: I have difficulty sometimes in reading people in social situations, so timely enough….i’m studying body language and becoming more aware not only of the reactions of other people but of my own reactions in certain situations.

  • Hi Matthew,

    your blogpost resonated with my past experiences: Yes, I learn more about myself when I dare to try new things. It’s like seeing myself in a new light. Refreshing.

    Something I wouldn’t normally do… I will continue to get better at making it as comfortable as I can for guys to come over to me and chat. And the new thing: from now on I’m going to subtly communicate that in order to get me as their girlfriend, they have to invest in me. Continue searching for new options, even though I melt for a particular guy, when he hasn’t done anything to earn me! It’s like passing the ball over the net, and testing if they are able to pass it back.

    I just realized that it’s valid to view a relationship as a reward, because they way I picture it, it is two people living in synergy. And love is earth’s prize.

    Thank you for this blog, I like that you vary your approach between clips – keeps it fresh,

  • Hi Matt,
    Thank you for your inspirational video. I enjoy your videos and articles always. I am sorry for my English (I’m not native English-speaker).
    I think that it is great idea and it can work for business or career, but it can be difficult for dating.
    We should understand that it is necessary to set the adequate purposes and look for someone who is our equal. If a woman sets the goal of high level to become the wife of the prince (for example), she can work over herself and she can believe that she deserves this prince. But the prince can have other opinion. Dating is the market and it is necessary to confess it. Am I not right?

  • Hi Matt,

    Thank you for the inspiring thought.

    I would probably try to be a little bit more outgoing person in order to have new friendships.
    But I have a question, if I have a big goal,like to have a new job, to have new place for living, and to find new friends and enjoy it, then what is the first thing I should do? x

  • Bad hair day Matt? Happens to the best of us :)

    It’s not easy to step out of the boundaries of who I’ve been. Sometimes I wish you were with me to push me to go talk to people on the days it’s particularly more challenging.

    Keep doing what you love! It makes such a huge difference.

  • Hi Matthew!

    Thank you very much for this advice! I totally agree!
    Last year I found myself in a situation and the voice in my head told me: oh, I´m scarred now. But then there was this moment, where I realized, that that wasn`t true actually. My body didn`t react with fear, it was just my brain telling me that I´m kind of supposed to be affraid, because that was my reaction in the past.. but wasn´t really in the moment.
    Since that I try not to talk myself into emotions or reactions based on, what are nothing but habits I took on and accepted as traits.
    So thanks for reminding(it`s really needed)!
    A lovely Sunday for you and your team:)

  • Good morning Matthew!

    Great video……brilliant advice as always.

    I consider myself a work in progress….always striving to become the best version of me. I am happiest when I am learning and evolving. I feel the day I stop doing this is the day I stp living my life to the fullest? When I see people settle into a mode of existence, static, never changing or willing to adopt new ideas or perspectives….I think…..”how boring is that?”

    I do notice that when I travel I am more carefree and adventurous….I meet more people and have more unique experiences…..i even dress differently. When I am home I have my business and children. i am more conservative and as a result create less opportunties for personal growth. My goal is to incorporate more of this ‘free spirit’ into my everday life. It is ironic that you posted this exact message because I literally verbalized this to construct to a friend on Friday.

    I think this program is working for me….even one step ahead of my coach:)

    Thank you Matthew! I am signed up for the retreat…..it will be the icing on the cake!!!!

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