Sometimes we’re advised “be yourself!” One common question that comes out of that is: does that mean I really should go vandalize that car whose car alarm goes off for no reason in the middle of the night? Or take candy from the store without paying? Or eat all kinds of unhealthy food until I become very sick?

Awareness of Consequences

It’s true that we have the impulse to do these things, but as adults we are also aware of the consequences of our actions. The anticipated future result of an action will arise in our minds along with the idea of the action itself, and so possibly these will cancel out and we won’t do things that are irresponsible and destructive.

Why Isn’t This Easy?

As a parent I observe myself controlling and manipulating my children to keep them safe. I can only imagine my parents did the same. It certainly seems like children are not entirely aware of the consequences of their actions and, as such, need some help avoiding those consequences.

I think a side effect of this is that a grow up trying to follow the rules and fit in - and not be their natural selves. This is because their “real” selves are, in fact, prone to irresponsible, destructive, and anti-social acts that they would regret if only they knew.

This childhood conditioning is not easy to reverse - and because we have not “been ourselves” for so long, there’s the worry we’ll revert to acting like toddlers if we try to be ourselves.

And so …

Relax, it’s OK to be yourself, assuming you have “grown up” already you now have the awareness and motivation needed to act like a responsible adult even if you “are yourself”.