“If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.” – Charlie Parker
There is no better way to demonstrate what you believe than to truly live it. But, as everyone knows, it isn’t always easy to live up to your beliefs. Indeed, this can cause some consternation and anxiety — especially when what you believe may be contrary to the beliefs of those around you.
To remain at peace with yourself and to live with internal harmony, it is necessary to act in accordance with your beliefs. It’s also worth remembering that you can’t preach or recommend to others to follow a course of action when you yourself aren’t willing to do the same.
The advice, then, to be who you are is good. What does it mean to be who you are?
- It means acting in full recognition of and abiding by your internal beliefs.
- It means standing up for what you believe and being willing to take the heat, should it arise.
What it takes to be who you are.
Consider that what you believe may be somewhat alien or foreign to others who have no grounding or background in it. Many people – too many, in fact – behave like lemmings, just following one another, even to the point of self-harm. They neither think for themselves nor engage in a critical analysis of what they believe. Furthermore, they fail to even dwell on or ponder what they might believe if they allowed themselves to think about the matter.
Being who you are demands that you think about living your beliefs. The process can be explained as contemplating how living your beliefs translates into the way others see you and what affect your actions may ultimately have on them. You could be a profound influence, but even if your actions (emanating from your heart and soul) do not change their behavior, what you have done is to act in accordance with all that is right and good for you. The importance of this on your own well-being cannot be understated. You are what you do, not what you say you’re going to do.
On the other hand, if you hide what you believe, opting instead to keep it inside and go along with the crowd (alienating your own beliefs), you risk damaging your own self-worth. That’s because you’re masking your true beliefs and behaving in a way that is discordant with them.
When you act in synchrony with your beliefs, it is much easier to say what you believe and to feel comfortable doing so. Instead of dissonance, it’s harmony.
How to live what you believe.
While theorizing about living in accordance with beliefs is one thing, the more practical discussion is likely to center on how to do just that. Here are some suggestions:
- Feel what’s true. If you believe something strongly enough, it must mean something. This feeling is coming from deep within your core. That has value.
- Be willing to act on your beliefs – even though it may not always be what others expect or want you to do. This takes courage, which you can develop. Remember that doing what you believe reinforces your sense of commitment, self-esteem and self-respect.
- In addition, be willing to entertain other beliefs. While you may steadfastly adhere to long-held beliefs, this doesn’t mean that what others believe is wrong. At least hear what they have to say. This encourages communication and may help to bridge misunderstanding.
- Remain flexible with your beliefs. People evolve as they encounter new experiences. This may cause them to change what they believe over time. For this reason, it’s prudent to be flexible enough to revise your beliefs if new information causes you to re-evaluate what you currently hold to be true.
- Always act based on who you are and what you believe. That way you are always true to yourself and never feel the need to proclaim something false.
- Keep in mind that a generosity of spirit, a willingness to do the right thing and hope will never lead you astray. You’re sure to be able to live what you believe.
This article was originally published on Psych Central.
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