I have touched over the past few year the topic of being yourself and published a blog called being yourself and what it means to you. How do you start with being yourself? we often make it too complicated. Start simply with your name!
About Your Name
Being yourself is first of all, about your identity. It starts as simply as your name – Your name, who you are with that name and where you come from.
I used to call myself “Helen” in my first six months of living in England. But my name is not “Helen”, it looks like Helen, but it’s “Hélène” (You pronounce it Elaine really but it is still not quite exact , or maybe for the Anglo- Saxons, I should spell it LN, which would be close enough!). After six months of not replying when a friend called me-not a good one if you are in the pub waiting for a drink- as it felt alien to hear these sounds, I just thought ‘It’s not me!’ It wasn’t right, it didn’t feel right. I could not respond to “Helen”.
In my desire to be integrated, I was denying my own core identity starting with the way I had been named as a child. I had to accept that, despite all my best intentions, I would never be English and did it matter anyhow? I realised later on, that my Frenchness in England was my best asset as I was different from everyone else and got noticed for being different. Especially I could get away for not queing like everyone else and bringing blue cheese to my childminder for my daughter’s packed lunch!
Recently my son was at the swimming pool, and he met a little friend in his diving class called Pip. And I straight away said “Pip. That’s a strange name” So I asked my son to check if his real name was not Philip but it was not, it was Pip. Then I reflected: ”So he must be called Pip, that’s what he’s called. Although for me it’s a bit of a strange name but that’s the way he is. It is him, let’s call him Pip.”
I think your name is paramount in defining YOU and it is essential to value your name for shaping and making YOU the way you are. With the foreign nationals I work with, it is even more important to ask them what they want to be called , not what they think is acceptable in an English speaking country.
I recently worked with a South American lady called Maria. In my workshops I always make sure we learn all the participants’ names and call them exactly as they would like to be called, out of respect for their identity. When asked what she would liked to be called, she actually gave us the whole of her name Maria Carmen and she realised she wanted to use her full name as it was an integral part of her identity as a foreigner and so we did in the workshop. I don’t think she had ever been asked : what do you really want to be called?
Again, when someone uses a shorter version of their name, for example a Matthew might become a Matt, I always double check what they ultimately prefer to be called. When you call an individual exactly by the name they cherish or at least they are used to, then you increase your connection with that person and very simply build rapport whilst showing respect for them as individual.
Now it is your turn!
Try the You Are Your name Show game
Recently in one of my workshops, I had two participants who did not like their names. My immediate respone was to feel saddened.
Then I suggested, ” Is there any chance you can change your name? If not, what about creating a story about yourself which would make you proud? What aobut inventing a story about something you wish has happened to you?”
There was a bit of confusion from the bemused participants whose immediate response was that this would be a lie.
“A lie?” I replied, “Are you sure? If it is a story that makes you happy and proud and enables you to live a more positive life, then is it not worth thinking about?
so now it is your turn, please pick up pen and paper and write or record on a microphone, or just tell a friend…
- What is the story of your name?
- Why were you given that name?
- What is the origin of your name?
- Most importantly what does your name mean to you?
- Do you need to invent your own story?
Helene is a dreamer, a poet, a trainer, a coach, a mother, a daughter. She is passionate about helping others to find their voices through her training. Get in touch with her helenemusso.com. If you want to book a discovery call with her, please get in touch on 07875627485. If you want to buy her book, click here.