What does “just be yourself” even mean?

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“Just be yourself”

I bet you’ve heard that one before. It’s a classic cliche that’s been thrown at you throughout your entire life, from your parents, from TV programs, from your teachers, from your boss… just be yourself.

And yet, who the fuck even knows what that means?

It doesn’t quite make sense, does it? Because who are you if you’re not yourself? You’re always you, so it’s a redundant thing to say.

Just be yourself. You’ve got no choice! That’s all you’re ever gonna be. So what does it really mean?


When people give this advice, they often don’t know what it means. They just say it and yet they don’t even know how to live by it themselves.

Just look out at the world. You’ll see how fake everybody is being. The pretenses that they put on to seek approval and avoid disapproval. So if any of them are the ones who are giving you the advice of just be yourself, they probably hypocrites.

As is human nature, we’re notorious for giving advice we neither follow nor even understand. So today, I’d like to make this a little more understandable.

Why have Integrity?

I’d like to introduce you to the concept of integrity – a much more practical word that you can use to replace being yourself.

We’ll look at what integrity means in just a minute, but before we do we have to ask ourselves, Why?

Why should I try to live with integrity? Why should I try to be authentic? Why should I try to be myself?

Well, it’s pretty simple: because your confidence and connections depend on it. You can figure this out for yourself, this doesn’t require major discussion: Ask yourself if being fake and seeking approval is likely to build your self-confidence and create meaningful connections with people.

Probably not, right?

If you want to feel confident in yourself, and you’d like to have deeper, more meaningful connections with other people and within yourself, then maybe integrity is the way to go. Especially if you haven’t been doing it much.

Now, a lot of people consider themselves to already have integrity, but they’ve never really challenged this. They’re scared to explore it because of what they might find.

“I’m a good person”

One of the things I learned working with criminal offenders for many years is that nearly every one of them thought of himself as a ‘good person’. Even the most ruthless, violent, sadistic criminal offenders considered themselves to be the good guy in their story; they were the heroes.

There’s obviously a skewed perspective they had to apply to the world to believe that they were the good guys, considering how much harm they caused and considering how often they did something that they would hate someone else doing to them.

What do we have in common with criminals, you ask?

Face the truth

This is where you have to face the truth about yourself. If you want to live more with integrity, build your confidence and create connections with people, first and foremost you’re going to have to admit something:

You don’t currently live with as much integrity as you’d like to believe.

You breach your own principles and values. You do things that you think are wrong when others do it. You harm others and then justify it, or harm yourself while telling other people to take better care of themselves. You’re a self-sabotaging hypocrite and a liar.

And you’re not alone. Because calling you “self-sabotaging hypocrite and liar” is just another way of saying “you are a human being.”

Yeah, but how?

But how do we do it? How do we ‘just be ourselves’? How do we increase our integrity? How do we become ‘authentic’?

Actually, it’s really fucking simple: Just be more honest.

That’s it. That’s the whole methodology. That’s the whole strategy – your complete A to Z blueprint. Just be honest…

But it’s not quite as simple as it might sound, as you already know.

The 3 Dan’s

To help you understand how to be more honest, I need to first introduce you to the three different You’s that coexist. You see, there isn’t just one You, there’s at least three.

There’s the one who everyone else sees, e.g. there’s the Dan that you can watch on the video above right now. That’s the Dan you know of, let’s call him “The Performer”.

But there’s another Dan – “The Controller” – and he lives inside my mind. He’s the one orchestrating The Performer that you’re seeing. He’s the one choosing the words to say and the way I move my hands. He made all those decisions to influence you in some way or to make himself feel good.

Now, you can’t see The Controller. You can only see The Performer – the product of The Controller’s strategy. So me talking is essentially like I’m my own puppet. The body you see moving and talking is being planned and controlled by the little Controller hiding behind the curtain.

But there’s even another Dan. I don’t know where he exists. Call him “The Observer” or ‘consciousness’. There’s no location where he can be found. He’s everywhere and he’s nowhere. But somehow he’s watching the other two.

The Observer is watching The Controller and The Performer, and he’s observing the relationship that they have with each other. He’s watching the difference between what I have going on inside (The Controller) and what you can see on the outside (The Performer).

The Observer knows what’s really going on, better than anybody else possibly could.

the authenticity gap

You each have this inner observer. You all have the ability to see the difference between your outward appearance /performance and your inner thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.

You’ll be able to see what I call the authenticity gap – the distance between who you are being (the outward performance) and who you know you should be (the inward set of values).

This is what I talk a lot about in my book Nothing to Lose. Essentially, building confidence is about closing the authenticity gap – aligning your inner core values with your outward behavior and expressions. In other words; being more honest.

There are three simple steps to building integrity that anyone can take.

the 1st level of honesty

First, you must stop lying to yourself. That inner controller and the observer need to have a conversation about what’s really going on with your outward performance. You need to face the facts about how your outward performance does not match your inner beliefs and values.

You must admit to yourself that you’re putting on a show for people, at least in certain situations, and then you lie to yourself about doing it. You justify it to yourself, minimize it, explain it away. That’s the first thing that needs to stop. You have to at least admit when you’re being full of shit.

When do you hide emotions? When do you pretend to like something that you don’t, and vice versa? When do you sacrifice the truth to avoid offending people? When do you hold back and bite your tongue because you’re worried about the consequences? When do you directly lie to people or deliberately mislead them? When are you people-pleasing and approval-seeking and trying to be part of the crew?

Sit down with a piece of paper and list some key examples from the recent past where you put on a dishonest show to get some sort of reward (or avoid some discomfort), and you know it wasn’t a fully accurate representation of what was going on inside you.

Now, maybe you’re not a ‘liar’ and you don’t directly mislead people, but you still probably hide a lot. You hide dislike and disagreements and other confrontational emotions in order to avoid rocking the boat. At least be honest about the hiding. No, you’re not doing it because it’s the ‘right thing to do’; you’re doing it because you’re scared of the reactions.

And that’s okay. Just admit the truth about it.

the 2nd level of honesty

Stop lying to others.

This is not the same as telling the truth and being more honest. It’s just about being less dishonest.

As Dr Jordan Peterson says,

“Tell the truth, or at least don’t lie.”

This is the stage where you start cutting the fat – trimming away as much of your dishonesty as you can. You’ve got your big list of the dishonesty your commonly engage in, and what you’re going to do now is start crossing them off the list.

Just stop doing it! For example, if someone tells a joke that’s not funny (and you’d usually pretend-laugh along), just don’t smile or laugh. You don’t yet need to be bold enough to say, “That wasn’t funny,” but at least don’t pretend that you found it funny.

Stop pretending. That’s what we mean by stop lying to others. Go zero. Just be silent walk away. Just don’t say anything. If you can’t say the truth, at least get to a point where you aren’t actively being dishonest.

the 3rd level of dishonesty

Of course, the most difficult step is to start increasing your honesty. Once you’ve stopped lying to yourself and then stopped lying to others (mostly), it’s time to grab your courage and start expressing yourself more truthfully.

This usually means engaging in a type of honesty that I prefer to call confrontation – any form of honesty that you feel uncomfortable with. You’re worried about the reaction and/or you’re worried about the emotions that will be provoked.

Confrontation is going to be different for every one of you. For some of you, it’s expressing something you dislike or disagree with. For some of you, it’s the opposite: expressing attraction and interest. For some of you, it’s going for something when other people think you shouldn’t, or liking something that other people think is stupid.

A confrontation occurs any time you express yourself and other people react ‘badly’, or at least that’s what you’re worried is going to happen. That’s the kind of honesty that closes the authenticity gap, because that’s the stuff you’ve been holding back the most.

Get that stuff out, if you can. Make yourself more shameless and face those uncomfortable emotions. Let those people not like you (they’re not right for you anyway), and just stand out in the crowd and be noticed and sometimes hated.

If you can do that, you’ll close the gap. The 3 You’s will align, and you’ll finally understand what that stupid cliche “just be yourself” really means.

If you want more help with that, I recommend you check out the BROJO confrontations and boundary setting course. It’s a very powerful course on how to be more honest without having to get terrified and ruin all your relationships.

You’ll need to be a BROJO contributing member to do the course, but that’s easy enough. It’s just $19 a month and you can quit anytime.

Thank you so much for reading. Please subscribe to the YouTube channel and support the cause.

I’ll see you next time.

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