Which made me think even more about Steve's statement. I'm not saying that people can't change -- or that it's not a worthy pursuit to try to correct some character flaws we may discover in ourselves. But if it's not authentic, it won't last. People can be who they aren't for only so long.
We all play roles in our lives, and that often means taking on different demeanors. You would likely respond differently as a mother than you would as a litigator. Or a caregiver role may well require a totally different mindset than that of the disciplinarian.
I'm not talking about the different roles we play within ourselves. I'm focusing on wholesale changes that we may put forth to create a different impression. Those are the kinds of behaviors that will only be temporary because, in the end, our true selves show through.
Which is why it's important to be comfortable in our own skins. After all, you're the one who ends up being your own judge and jury. And you're the one who loses sleep at night.
Shakespeare hit the nail on the head in "Hamlet" when he spoke through Polonius: "To thine own self be true. And it must follow as the night, the day: thou canst not then be false to any man."
There are a lot of reasons this is a good guideline. Not the least of which is that to be true to yourself, you need to know yourself -- your wants, needs, fears, limitations, baggage, etc.
And let's face it: We know when we're not being true to ourselves. There's that yucky feeling inside. Not being true to ourselves means faking it for some reason. And faking it, in time, eats away at your very core.
Being true to yourself involves tremendous courage, says author Raymond Rock. It also requires guts -- guts to actually look closely at everything. One of the first steps in being true to ourselves involves standing up for your principles, and this can be very hard -- and scary. It will likely take lots of trial-and-error situations for you to get the formula just right. It's somewhere between coming across as too blunt -- and sweeping things under the rug.
Once you take those first steps, says Rock, you begin to awaken. And once the awakening begins, then the freedom you feel makes all the trial-and-error pain worthwhile. Being true to yourself begins by being with yourself -- and really listening.
In the long run, wouldn't you rather be who you really are than someone else's idea of who you should be?
Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairwoman and CEO of The Arnold Agency, an advertising, public-relations and government-relations firm. Reader inquiries may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or e-mailed to livinglifefu...@arnoldagency.com.