Be yourself, be proud, value your name, value YOU

A confident womenI 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

Have fun!

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?

 This blog is an extract of  The Power of Outrageous Expression. You can get hold a full copy of Helene’s book here.

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. 

Being grateful

In the last few years, I have been facing the fact that a lot of people think they need to put on an act and put a mask to cover their flaws, as if they were going to be discovered that they are not perfect. Nobody is perfect and that is what makes us human. What we can be though is being our better self by acknowledging and recognising our strengths and tempering our weaknesses. In any case a so-called weakness might be a strength. In that frame of mind we are winners.

mardi gras masks design

When speaking, what is interesting for me is that, after years of drama teaching and helping my students to be good or even fantastic at playing someone else, I am now encouraging everyone to be themselves.

This might appear contradictory but it is not.

By working with my students, I have acquired tools which helps anyone who wants to speak, or need to speak. But moreover, I have acquired compassion and support when faced with nervous students.

I remember Jo, a large lad who had to play a violent husband in a devised story. He ended up in tears a few days before the performance telling me he could not do that part. It was challenging to play that part and it was not quite sure he wanted to be portrayed in that tlight. I had to insist, it was drama and yes I believe that he could play that part with brio. He did perform excellently in the end. The scene with his “wife” was charged with tension and electricity.

I remember Joanne, a kid with learning difficulties who spoke very little during class but shook her beautiful face to show her agreement to most things. When she played an overworked mom at the end of the tether reacting to her family, raising her voice and making a stand. That day when she practised,  the whole class fell silent when hearing her voice. You could have heard a pin dropping, and again, there was electricity in the air that was carrying her words.

modern style dancer posing

I remember a class of year seven who undertook to re-enact a plane crash and were to rescue me as I was lying there pretending to be dead. The survivors acknowledged the dead and looked after the wounded. There was real beauty in this amazing support which was displayed then. “ This took place whilst I was lying in the classroom”. The students had taken full ownerships of the drama.

In that moment of intense display of emotion, all my students found a way of expressing themselves and being creative. They all had found a voice and through drama a way to channel that energy out to the world.

I remember my lovely Year 12 classes who in 2000 believed my madness when I told them that they would perform an absurd play at a my local street party- Rosebery Road Milllinium  street festivity was one of the rare street party at the time-. They were so scared but raised to the challenge with starting a play impromptu in the street. It was electric.

Share Your Voice Concept

Now I have realised that my drama background has allowed me to find my voice and has allowed me to want to help others to do the same.  Without all the years as a teacher, I would never have been able to set up my own business and to help others to become more confident at expressing themselves. Today, outside the drama classroom, in the real world, I just want to be me, and in return I want you to be you.

Being yourself

Being yourself also means you need to decide on your real values.

asian bride on beach

What is not right for you?  You need to decide on your real values.  I’m going to tell you something personal here.  I recently unfortunately separated and I realised that I was compromising too much.  I’m quite easy going and  often…I suppose easily influenced.  I have a tendency sometimes to go with the flow and follow someone else’s idea.  This is fine, but it has to be in harmony with what your real beliefs are and values are.  And I think I was compromising too much.  To the point where I felt bullied. And although there was no overt bullying like shouting or beating up etc, it was a sort of underhand bullying, an insidious one which  I had to accept  in a way, I had sort of come to terms with it.  Because I do my best to see other people’s point of view, it was part of the deal.  But I realised that this is not always the case.  That sometimes we can get bullied without even knowing it. And it has to come to the point of ‘What do I really want to do?’ ‘Who do I really want to be?’ ‘What is my future?’  ‘What is my life?’ and ‘Am I prepared to put up with this, that and the other?’

If you are, that’s fine.  But if you’re not and you feel you’re in constant conflict within yourself, then you need to ask yourself ‘Do I need to be with that person?’  Of course if you are having problems with your partner the only solution is not always to leave but to start being able to express what you want without fear of being bullied. I think what is important is to reflect and acknowledge there’s a problem and whether or not the problem lies at a deep level? Or on an identity level, about being yourself. You feel you can’t be yourself.  And it gets to the point where you’re thinking ‘This is not right.’  And you have all these different ways of being. I think my way of doing it, I’m a little bit too relaxed and too accepting of other people.  And I don’t set strong boundaries.  Knowing some of my strengths and weaknesses is helpful to look at the whole situation.

word cloud positive thinking

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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 or email beconfident@helenemusso.com