Be Yourself, Be More, Relax & Other Useless Advice

By Melinda Glenister

There is one piece of teaching that I keep hearing from all kinds of wise people, which starts to drive me a bit nuts.. It seems to me to be as useful as ‘relax’ - which might be the most useless piece of advice ever.. Relax how?  If people knew how to relax they probably wouldn’t be needing your services at all, or asking for advice in the first place.
So to me its along similar lines..
And what is this gem of wisdom so many great teachers like to impart upon thee?
“Be yourself”
Or “Be you!”
Or the one that really tipped me over the edge to write this today…
Just (just.. ahem..) be MORE of yourself.. “

My question is.. how can a person be more of themselves if they aren’t clear who they are?
It is the first stumbling block before anything has happened at all- in order to be more of anything you first have to be clear what the thing is that you are trying to be more of is! You also have to be clear what ‘less’ is, where the dial is, how to turn it, and how to differentiate that particular aspect from all the other possible ‘mores’, otherwise you just end up with a louder you, not more of you..

I don’t think people are actively trying to be less of themselves.. I think what happens here is that people just aren’t clear whats really them and what is an expectation on them, so they allow something to get dampened down. But maybe its all by accident not design.. A random turn of the dial.. A person feels they are too much.. so they reign themselves in.. thus applying their own straightjacket. Until the pressure builds and they can take no more and one day BAM! They explode all over the place LOUDLY and unrestrained and then filled with shame or remorse soberly reapply the straightjacket thinking they are TOO MUCH … and so the cycle starts again until BAM once more…

So.. here’s my theory..
You don't need to be more of you!!
You are already enough!!
If YOU is not shining through abundant for all to see it is because something is in the way..  OR if you are SO LOUD that people have to close themselves off or apply earmuffs.. Then once again the answer is to do LESS not MORE..
Strip away anything that doesn’t need to be there.. don’t add.  Adding only creates more tension, more conflict, more resistance, more confusion and more NOISE…

If you are not blinding people with the light emanating out of you.. dazzling them with your inner joy and sparkle it’s because there is too much of something else in the way!
This is the part where I suggest instead to do less! But ‘do less’ might be as useless as advice as ‘be more’!

So what to do then?? How can I continue this blog???

Well now I’ve talked myself into a corner- because ‘do less’ is my favourite thing to say when I’m teaching.. I say it so often I sometimes think I’m my own parody.. I feel I have merged into Kunu the surf teacher from ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’.. when he says ‘Don’t try to surf, don’t do it, do less! Do less ! Do nothing!… Well no you gotta do more than that!!..‘

But now I have to ponder to myself if ‘do less’ is as useless to someone who doesn’t know where to look for that dial as ‘relax’?
Is reduce the effort better?? Does that make it specific enough that it gives a clue where to look?

What about slow down.. yes ok now we are coming back on track…
Yes -  slow down- this feels a clear description of some action that someone can take which will necessarily mean some reduction in force and therefore allow some glimmer of awareness to creep through somewhere which may have been barricaded before.
Funny enough the speed of a movement is very often tied to the amount of the movement, and to the force.. For e.g., if in a feldenkrais lesson I say to increase the circle to make a bigger circle- more often than not people will go faster as well.. but it is not a physics formula- the ratio between the different aspects can be changed independently.

So do I have to say do it slower not do less?  How does this work for a dancer or a sprinter or a tennis player where speed matters?  Well same applies of course because to increase the speed you still need to reduce whatever is getting in the way first.. reducing the effort allows the athlete to be more themselves too… a better version of themselves… You go faster by first slowing down.. As we live in the world of paradoxes..

Now I’m just thinking out loud but maybe the answer here is to play with the ratio of all 3 aspects in relationship to each other..
i.e. to do a movement smaller, slower or with reduced effort- choosing one of the axes to play with turning down while turning the others up or leaving them constant.. maybe this is the way for a person to begin to understand what ‘more’ or ‘less’ is..

How does it apply to being more of you?

I wonder if its the same thing? I wonder if playing with ‘being you’ slower or faster, quieter or louder, bigger or smaller, with more or less effort not all at once but one aspect at a time- filters through to be able to identify something that is unchangeably YOU underneath?

I don’t know the answer to this.. but I’m off to walk slowly, or maybe quick, back to the train to go home now.. where I may be more quiet or more noisy than usual, and I might try really hard to catch the next train.. or I might take it easy, take a different street to the station and wait for the next one, or another…. so what..

In other words- and the simplest way I can put it is to CHANGE THE PATTERN, any pattern or any part of the pattern, in any way.. Do something different than you normally do- and do some new different thing regularly… This is the way to distinguish what is the golden, unchangeable, true essence of you underneath.. Or the 'difference that makes the difference' as Gregory Bateson said.

We can all see if something emerges underneath that feels like it’s been hiding there all along… We can see if there is more of us there and less noise obstructing that..

So don’t try to be more, or less of anything.. just do something different.. and notice if that difference makes a difference..