Society frowns upon being judgmental and rightly so. On the other hand, it is in our best interests to possess discernment in our dealings with others. The boundary between these two conditions is fuzzy. I maintain that appropriateness is an important factor when determining how we perceive others. In a similar manner, there are situations when it is in our best interest to refrain from revealing ourselves; and when it is appropriate to let our hair down and fully be ourselves. Most people know acceptable guidelines for establishing these parameters.
Another trait that comes into play is when a person is compelled by force or strict cultural norms to repress her or his true nature, there is a good chance that those repressed feelings and tendancies will find expression in harmful ways. The harm can manifest outwardly or internally. On the other hand, if a person expresses her or himself without restraint within repressive cultures, that person is at high risk of arrest and severe official punishment.
We are fortunate if we live in a society that is less judgmental. We are more free to be who we are, act as we please, and say what’s on our minds as long as our freedom does not infringe upon the freedom of others. As in most matters of life, our expression and behavior have benefits and consequences. After all, we all possess a certain degree of judgmentalism and we are affected in some degree by the judgmentalism of others. Another word for this is “inhibition”.
When people feel inhibited, they are reluctant to assert themselves. When a person is completely uninhibited, she or he aggressively imposes themself onto others. Again, this is where balance and discernment come into play. It is helpful for us to be uninhibited and tempered with a certain amount of inhibition. Most of us have been taught some form of this balance when we were children. Unfortunately, that instruction may have been less than ideal; so we end up with an imbalance between uninhibeted and inhibited states of mind.
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”–Bernard M. Maruch
It behooves us to take popular memes regarding being oneself with a grain of salt. For example, Maruch’s statement has limitations. If a person is serving in the military or in some other official capacity, it is of utmost importance to refrain from uninhibited behavior. An extreme example is the restraint practiced by Buckingham Palace Royal Guards. Such a guard would be ill advised to follow Maruch’s recommendation. On the other end of the spectrum, are infants. By nature, infants are totally uninhibeted. They behave like tyrants who demand that their needs be promptly met. Meanwhile, we average folks’ behavior is somewhere between these two extremes.
With the preceding considerations out of the way, sometimes we need a bit of encouragement to be our best selves. After all, there isn’t anyone on Earth who is precisely like you, even if you’re someone’s twin. We all have faults to correct and attributes to enhance. We eventually learn that being ourselves, within reason, is the way towards living a joyful, effective life.
One of the best pieces of advice that was shared with me is this: “Some people will love you for what you can do for them, some will love you for who you are, and some people will hate you for any or no reason at all. So all you can do in life is to be the best version of who you are and let the chips fall where they may.”
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Carl Jung. “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”