Be Yourself

Praise Moses! You've just solved all my problems!

To think, all this time, all I had to do was just be myself! Oh, you have just put the entire self-help book industry out of business with those three words! No date, party, job interview, or speech need ever fail again, for you have uncovered the ultimate secret of the universe! Everybody here will tell their grandchildren that they bore witness to this glorious day in human history!!!

By using the PatternPattern, we find that "Be Yourself" is not the solution, but the problem to be solved. You know, after seeing this example, I actually buy into the PatternPattern a little.

Context: You're a happenin', together dude who's good at what you do, fairly witty around your friends, you're confident about what you do in familiar situations. But outside of your comfort zone, where you don't know what to expect, you tense up. Your wit is dulled, you become tongue-tied, you lose confidence, get nervous, and perform poorly. The real you doesn't act like this.

Problem: How can you BeYourself in unfamiliar situations? Or, rather, how do you avoid the paralyzing fear that would mask your natural strengths?

Forces: Solution: Resulting Context: Known uses:

All I had to do was just be myself!

Impossible. Being yourself (and in fact, being anything) is not in the domain of doing, but in the DomainOfBeing?. Being yourself is not something you can just 'do'.

The hardest part of BeYourself is learning to change without sacrificing yourself.

The core of BeYourself is, of course, confidence in the face of the unknown. The only way to develop this confidence is to learn about yourself and your capabilities. This is a life-long study.

(Think about it - the unknown, by definition, is unknown. The one constant in all of your encounters with the unknown will be: you.)

Try many different things - sports, activities, crafts and arts that you wouldn't normally try. Make a serious commitment to these efforts - for example, try a martial art for at least a month, three days a week, before stopping to think about whether it's working for you or not. Try several martial arts, at least five, before deciding whether or not martial arts are something you want to make a part of your life.

For most geeks, an extra effort to explore the physical and artistic side is probably a good idea. Discover the things your body is capable of, things you never would have imagined before (to truly shake up your preconceptions of what your body can do, try learning some acrobatics!).

Since most geeks are heavily analytical, try some non-analytical activities (sports, dance, martial arts are good candidates). It may be hard to get past your habitual analytical mode - try something like light-contact sparring, or performance shooting, or public speaking, which will put you in a situation where you have to respond without time to analyze. It's okay to analyze before, and after, but not during. Sometimes you can take the opposite tack - try something where progress will have to take place over the long term, where you have to work at it, and work at it, suspending judgement.

Learn to dance - or some other performance art that is intuitive and non-verbal. Qualities that I particularly like about dancing is that it's non-verbal, yet you have to communicate; it's physical, but cooperative (nobody "wins" on the dance floor :-). Plus, dancing can be a very handy way (not to mention quite fun) to spend time familiarizing themselves with the opposite gender.

On the flip side, try learning what you don't need - learning what you can really live without teaches you what really matters to you. Try camping - and if you survive car-camping in a cabin tent, try serious camping. If you acquire a lot of stuff, try working towards a minimalist life style for a while - spend a year figuring out how much of the stuff in your apartment or house you can live without. Pick up and read a copy of Joe Dominguez & Vicki Robin's _Your Money or Your Life_ ( to rethink your relationship with money.

Generally, there are higher level heuristics you can develop by facing the unknown as often as possible. Specifically, one unknown you should face as often as possible is relating to members of the appropriate sex in a social context.

All of this, of course, is no guarantee that you'll actually solve TheDatingProblem? (sounds sort of like some non-geek analog of The Halting Problem :-). BeYourself is a necessary, but not sufficient condition.

The above sounds like FindYourself?.

And regarding being around MOTAS (and other arbitrary acronyms) as often as possible: remember, PracticeMakesPermanent, not perfect.
"BeYourself" is just an informal way of saying that tension and self-consciousness and nervousness cause problems, so things will work better if you find some way to relax. When you're relaxed and self-confident, your better facets emerge.

Perhaps the phrase would be more logical-sounding if it were BeYourBetterSelf?, but this would no doubt still run afoul of the popular confusion that we only have one self. Ask psychologists (or Marvin Minsky); that's not the case.

Much of the above discussion doesn't seem to understand that this is the heart of it, e.g. arguing about "being" versus "doing" is utterly beside the point.

This also has everything to do with the popular over-generalization WhiteMenCantDance? -- which is based on the germ of truth that white guys tend to be self-conscious and nervous when dancing, causing them to screw up; dancing, like many physical and social activities, is done best in a relaxed, self-confident manner.

Easier said than done, of course; for many people, this advice conflicts both with lifelong habits, but worse, also with aspects of self-identity and personal philosophy, in which case the person in question will have reasons that block following the advice, and they will remain nervous and selfconscious.

Giving advice rarely works on any topic, because of blocking forces like that.

To Forces I would add: Consider that maybe you have a serious anxiety condition, causing you to experience levels of anxiety and fear far beyond any human being should experience. The solution is to find a good therapist and get some medication. Its sad that taking medication has such negative connotations. Your brain is an electro-chemical machine. If the chemicals are out of balance, you are out of balance.

See DatingPatterns

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