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To be nobody but yourself... Thursday October 8, 2015

"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting" EE Cummings

This quote is one I regularly return to, when I find that I have said something and then thought - what was I doing?

How many of us behave differently (even tell lies to ingratiate ourselves) and then question ourselves after we have left a meeting/a coffee/a party/a conversation?

How many of us started this at school to 'try' to be liked by our peers – even the teacher? And are we still doing it with our 'boss'/our partner/our peers/even our children?

We are bombarded each and every day with adverts ('because your worth it'), news stories, conversations, politics (with a big and small Pp), which seek to live in a black & white, right & wrong, brittle, short term, ego driven, Newtonian world.

This was a world which emerged in the industrial revolution, when there were new and definite answers to everything and the proven processes kept us all 'right', through repeatable methodologies. Today, we realise that the old one simple solution, is totally unfit for purpose in our now modern, constantly changing, rapidly evolving, interdependent and complex world.

Today when I hear people talking about simple solutions, I often say 'there is a simple answer to every complex problem, and it's wrong!'

From invading Iraq – an endless stream of wrong 'outcomes' – just the same, but on a different 'scale', as invading someone else's privacy and social media… we can see that many people, even organisations and governments, have given up their moral compass, for short term gain.

Schools, colleges and universities, attempt to grow yet more competence (IQ - qualifications), when we actually require stronger characters (EQ - qualities) to help stabilise our families and societies.

To stand true to your own values – regardless of what anyone else states – is very challenging, as many of us seek friendship, or only feel good if we are liked by others.

That however, as I have said before is about doing the work through 'inscaping' not constantly escaping to get 'things' that supposedly make us confident or even worse, supposedly happy!

Mental health is often just about how we feel about ourselves.

Feelings are far more important than facts - our reality is emotional and subjective not rational and objective. We seek meaning before money...or do we?

So why do we let others have such an effect on us?

Can you be OK about yourself, whether someone praises or blames you?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Lizzie Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 6:23am

I am learning to be OK about myself. It has taken a long time. Depression robs you of compassion towards oneself and gives distorted images. Feelings to me are very important. But if someone chooses to hurt you then they are the ones with the problem

Les Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 4:50pm

Hi Lizzie Spot on...... The challenge is how do you become resilient enough to be able to deal with any hurt? If depressed I would say avoid any situations / relationships you may find stressful. Keep stepping into learning and thus some discomfort for growth.

Helen Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 6:26am

Less,there have been many insightful blogs on moodscope but this one has to be the most insightful one that l have read. I have always been distrustful of the world's way of seeing things and ee Cummings poem and your own distilled thoughts have expressed this magnificently. On behalf of those for whom it struck a cord ; thank you.

Mary Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 1:02pm

Helen, you take the words right out of my keyboard.

Les Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 10:48pm

Hi Helen Wow.....and I thank you for that.

Rupert Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 8:37am

Les I haven't commented for a while mainly because work has barred access to our email accounts so I have to use my mobile now but I was thinking the same thing that I haven't read anything as powerful on here for a long time. They say that the mid life crisis is partly to do with the realisation that one has been living a life imposed by society driven by the need to conform and I think it is worse now as one's life can be lived out in public via Facebook etc. personally I cherish privacy and the power it gives

Bearofliddlebrain Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 10:23am

So nice to see you back Rupert, had been worried about you not being around...glad you are here again. I think both you and Les have hit the nail on the head today - mid life crisis, wow, yes, when you realise society's wants have been drip fed to us which includes social issues and dare I say, religion...then when you question and question why and cannot get the start to really 'see' things for how they really are. But that's just my humble opinion...Bear x

Rupert Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 10:47am

Thanks Bear. I sometimes wonder if I am just getting old and cranky but in truth I think it is just the real me standing up for what I believe in rather than just conforming in the usual way! Rupert

Bearofliddlebrain Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 10:54am

No you are so right...not old an cranky...I'm the same..or perhaps we are BOTH old and cranky...we can start an old and cranky bear club...Rupert and Bear! Lol....seriously though, I think we start to see things as they really, really are and it sometimes hurts like hell to think you are being or have been deceived, and maybe that's the 'crisis' in our mid life? Bear x

the room above the garage Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 1:55pm

Rupert is back. A good day!

Les Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 4:55pm

Hi Rupert Good to 'hear' you. I totally agree. Often I fear people as they become 'wiser' (EQ) rather than clever (IQ) suddenly find that they are not who they want to be. Somewhere along the way they let go their values and principles and prostituted themselves for money or goods! That realisation can often cause real disturbance and poor mental health. It may even cause them to realise that they married the wrong partner for the wrong reasons! Keep using that mobile and thanks for your great comments.

Rupert Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 8:39am

Sorry mobile! ... and it seems to me the whole look at me thing is only going to lead to more problems.

Mary Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 1:04pm

Rupert - so, so very pleased to see you again! You have been missed. And so very glad to know it has only been lack of technology that has kept you away. Have a huge hug of Welcome back.

Lilly Petal Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 8:54am

You've hit the nail on the head for me Les! This has been such a dilemma. When it comes to the two main situations that I'm struggling with, it's because on the one hand I'm determined to be me and stay true to my values and convictions and stand my ground regardless of the people who dont like that and want me to do what they want. It is indeed a battle. Yet to find peace we are advised to stop fighting, resisting, to be accepting. I work on accepting the things I cant change, including other people... I cant and dont want to change them, but when their actions are intrusive I have a problem with that. Hmmm..... On a lighter note(!) those 2 situations take up less than 1% of my time, so that's all the energy thought and focus they deserve! Don't feed those wolves/monkeys :)
It's a beautiful sunny day and I'm going to relax and just be me today! Love and light to all :)
Thanks For a great blog Les! LP x

Les Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 4:57pm

A Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson about how he felt. He said, "I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one. The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one." The grandson asked him, "Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?" The grandfather answered, "The one I feed

Lilly Petal Fri, Oct 9th 2015 @ 12:11am

Ahhh! Now I get it! :) My ancestors are from that part of the world, so that means alot to me. I'll tresure it. Thanks Les! :)

Debs Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 9:11am

Thanks Les, this captures what I'm wrestling with perfectly. It's like there are two selves - the one created by parents, family, community and society and then the other, real self fighting to get out. I know who I am, what my values are, what I want to do, say, be, but to live as that self takes enormous strength. I constantly bend to fit in when I know true belonging comes from being my true self and not worrying what others think. Rupert is right, the mid-life point is a crossroads, a turning point, where much of life is shed and a new path taken. For me, the process is raw and painful but I trust that it will lead to a much deeper existence. Xxx

Les Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 5:02pm

Hi Debs As above........for Lily Petal Thanks for your input. Real parents of leadership will create a family culture where their children as they grow up, can be different from them. If they do not - they will 'lose' their children by seeking to make them the same as they are. The reason those children are initially 'healthy' is that they received mixed genes. It is the diversity of life that creates our strength - the magic of synergy - where 1+1 = 3, 5, 50...... A deeper existence is created by going deeper in - inscaping again not escaping. And there is no short cut to anywhere worth going!

Anonymous Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 9:20am

Hi Les
Interesting blog, I find that instead of being a nobody I'd rather be Honest with Myself. Are we always honest about ourselves? When we're not honest with ourselves, it creates a subtle tension. So to improve the levels of honesty and take responsibility for our words and actions, we should be taking the time to reflect on our words and actions. Be honest with ourselves about who you are and why you do what you do. Surely when we’re honest with ourselves, there's a deeper level of relaxation, which allows us to be more authentic, transparent and accountable. - And then be OK about ourselves.

Les Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 5:06pm

Hi A Great stuff......the first person we have to be honest with is ourselves! If that is 'wrong' or avoided - then everything else is weakend to the same degree we have bluffed ourselves. Personal trustworthiness is THE key to external trust. If you say you are going to lose weight / stop smoking / go to the gym ----DO YOU?

Liane Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 9:24am

I'm taking time now to learn and know me. Too many years with "me" buried under work, projects, and responsibilities. I make gross errors and cause others pain that I completely regret. I know where I want to be and with constant effort, determination, and hopefully good friends, I will be the person hidden inside. It's up to me to be the "me" that I know in my heart.

Les Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 5:07pm

Hi Liane The ONLY person each of us can change is ourself. Humans have tried to change each other for 2015 hasn't worked yet!

Bearofliddlebrain Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 10:46am

Thanks so much Les, as usual you have written a thought-provoking blog.

Looking at the responses so far I can see that so many of us strive to 'find' the right person, the 'real me' inside. It's no wonder we have trouble, as we have been told how to 'be', what to say, what not to say or do by so many people for all our lives that you'd wonder that moving into our older years, that we have any chance of finding the 'real me' at all!
We do need honesty in our lives and the odd white lie can be forgiven, if it's to save someone's feelings as in ('no dear, your bum doesn't look big in that!). Honesty should start with ourselves then work it's way out. The trouble is, we always feel we have to fit in, whether it's with family, friends or neighbours. I honestly (!) wish I could be brave enough to tell people when they have hurt me - as they seem to find it easy to tell me if I've hurt them. Great quote today.
Bear x

Bearofliddlebrain Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 11:02am

Forgot to add....isn't it National Poet's day today? I thought you'd have a pom for us Les!!!
Bear x

Les Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 9:47pm

I didn't know, It was a poets day, Or I'd have some words, For Moodscope today.

susan Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 11:05am

Wow, Les, I think you've really touched on the 'why' in 'why are we here?' It's all about the journey back to our true selves. So many of us start to get lost right at the beginning of life when we're little. I've often thought that those who never went off track were given a great gift in life and can go on to be true Masters (as referenced in Einstein's quote of the day). But it is never too late. Such a task for some of us and i certainly speak for myself. Many thanks. xx

Bearofliddlebrain Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 4:36pm

I like what you've said here, Susan...'those who never went off track were given a gift in life' - I actually think they, and the people who brought them up in their younger years, must also share that great gift as they all seem to have helped each generation to not go through life feeling put upon, have their opinions disregarded or perhaps they were taught how to react (or not) to those who find it easy to hurt others. Such a task indeed for me! Thank you Susan, love Bear x

susan Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 5:23pm

(((Bear))) xx

Les Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 9:51pm

Hi Susan Thanks - yes the journey back or into our true selves for sure. As the Jesuits said - give me the (wo)man until they are seven and I'll give you the (wo)man. Children only learn three ways: firstly example - secondly example and thirdly example! So parents create the security or otherwise....Oliver James's great book 'Families they F*** You Up' is a must read in this area.

Peter Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 12:26pm

Great words Les...thank you! I wonder whether I will ever feel free to express my souls views without feeling that I will be judged harshly for them. You've reminded me today that it is possible. I've shared the EE Cummings quote on face book.

Bearofliddlebrain Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 4:37pm

Share away, Peter, we are here to listen and learn. Bear x

Les Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 9:54pm

Hi Peter Thanks........ Look at your words.....'I wonder if'.... Replace with 'I believe I will be free'... "Our words reveal our thoughts; Our manners mirror our self esteem; Our actions reflect our character; Our habits predict our future." William Arthur Ward

Bearofliddlebrain Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 12:26pm

Radio two - Jeremy Vine has a discussion on reading poetry to peeps with dementia- might be worth a listen to or if you can't get to it now maybe 'listen again ' later..? Bear x

Mary Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 1:07pm

Karen said it perfectly, Les - one of the most insightful and powerful posts ever published here. One of the symptoms of depression can be hating oneself, so it's good to practise being true to your values so at least we can respect ourselves when the black dog sits on us and takes all our liking away. (apologies for all the pronoun changes there)

Les Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 9:57pm

Hi Mary I often said depression is a lot about self hate - and it certainly felt that way for me. Being true to yourself can help raise that crucial self esteem, along with being in a supportive relationship or family who hopefully mirror your values.

Anonymous Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 1:27pm

For me, my depression stems, started from, when I was forced or felt obliged to be someone else; at school and work, I had difficulty relating to my "successful" colleagues and really my depression did start at school. University was slightly different. I found myself for 4 years and loved the new freedom. For a few years at work I was happy in certain circumstances where a good boss placed me in work situations where he saw I would thrive. And I did, but eventually he didn't and I fell from grace too. I still keep in touch with him. He was and is a good man. Am I myself now? Slowly I am getting there with the help of lovely people on Moodscope; however the depression which started long ago because of trying to be, for years and years, someone I did not feel comfortable being, is difficult to throw off. I do hope that children are now taught the value of being oneself;it should be a priority for schools, even pre school care. Thanks Les for hammering home this point.

Bearofliddlebrain Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 4:41pm

That's sad, Anon@1.27...that your boss moved you from thriving work situations...have you ever asked why or do you know why he did? And 'Fallen from grace'? Nah, slipped a rung or three but not fallen I am are still highly-valued here on Moodscope, just being you...Bear x

the room above the garage Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 1:59pm

Les you always make me feel like there is a strong, steady, reassuring chime. Night will follow day. It's lovely thank you. I love this today...I think my recovery began when I realised that difference, that I could actually be me and I might even like me. I used to take any criticism so harshly but I am learning there is a gap between what someone thinks and says and what I should feel comfortable with. Thank you my dear.

Les Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 10:04pm

Hi RATG Yes for sure - 'mind the gap'. Humans are the only animal on the planet to have a gap between stimulus and response....most of us do not use it, especially when we are emotional. We do a 'knee jerk' reaction. Take your own..... Good Advice Personally (GAP) Keep being you - your words I'm sure help many and of course in helping others - you can only help yourself.

Anonymous Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 2:05pm

Hi ratg I am at a Place in the Sun, Home! I'm not too bad thank you. All the better for hearing from you. And Rupert and Les.

the room above the garage Fri, Oct 9th 2015 @ 10:28pm

Hello, wonderful, I hope you have some peaceful days to enjoy, love ratg x

Anonymous Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 2:06pm

Ratg, that was Julia

The Gardener Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 2:18pm

'Can you be OK about yourself?' Hm. Always have a job puzzling Les out, so many threads. I am OK in that I am doing what seems right at the moment, when somebody has thrown the rule book away. I am suffering remorse - as a 'non grumbler' I moan to anybody who will listen. I've written two letters I bitterly regret. One of the recipients deserved it, but silence would have been better. Now, in that mood, I go round doing the chores writing this stuff in my head, beating up house and garden, and daring myself to touch a computer. What's done can't be undone, says the old cliche - but any attempt to apologize, justify or deny seems to get one in deeper. If the missive has gone to someone who was already in trouble themselves, then real damage is done. The conflicting advice for someone dealing with Alzheimers leaves you reeling - all well meant - but things change from hour to hour, worst of all reason and logic have flown. To be honest, I'm not OK, because I'm losing my values and standards - why bother to look nice any more, why bother to lay a table - these things were, of course, done more for others than yourself, other than your pride in 'not letting go'. To be 'OK' I need to set some attainable targets, aim for them, so that whatever the day throws at me, I can say'I'm satisfied with myself, today', and use the professionals more. I wrote a blog 'The Balance Sheet of Life' a few months ago, must see if it applies any more.

Les Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 10:09pm

Hi TG Interesting stuff... Never DJE (Defend, Justify or Defend) it never works and as you say digs deeper....simply say sorry. Maybe at times - as it was for me - it was OK (a target)just to get through another day / night and that was as much as I could achieve. A 'be perfect' driver is like a big stick for anyone with depressive tendencies.

Richard Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 7:16pm


I read this and it was meaningless. I re-read it several times with the same result. What was I missing? So I Googled it.

One word, one word was missing and how very important. Like!

Deliberate or accidental?

"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you LIKE everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting" EE Cummings

How poinient. As, "Like" can have several meanings. Ice-cream, yummy, I like it or Ice-cream, a bit like sorbet, similar but different.

So when you add back the missing "like" it all makes sense again, but, depending on how you read it makes a world of difference.

I hope it was originally meant, with the intent to, "Like everybody else, like ice-cream, yummy, I like people" and not "like everybody else, robots, drones, all the same"

But, how can you be sure?

Les Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 10:15pm

Hi Richard worked for me, even without the 'like' and it does read better with it - so thanks for that. Like in this use for me - clearly means 'the same as'.....which is what I took from the quote in any case. This then leads to the 'battle' to be truly who you are and not the same as everyone else. Thus - 'never stop fighting'. So I'm afraid its the 'robots, drones' description from above.

Anonymous Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 9:43pm

Hi Richard,
After reading this again after your spot check, I think it clearly was accidental as the sentence does not flow properly without it. LIKE being the obvious word here, WHO wants to be like everybody else, WHERE is the interest in being like everybody else, WHAT makes us different to everybody else....I'm sure EE Cummings wouldn't be upset with the mistake.....though I would imagine that in his day, the emphasis on LIKE was not as diverse as it is today...self discovery being more apparent the battle still remains...

“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”
? Mahatma Gandhi

Les Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 10:17pm

Hi A Yup - agreed. Battle on.......... 'You have to be the change you wish to see in the world.' Gandhi If you become kinder - the world just the only person you can change is............yourself.

Rebecca Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 11:02pm

I don't seem to be like anyone else as I am just too honest and so can't put on an act, be the way everyone wants me to be. It makes me feel very lonely sometimes as I don't feel it is possible to fit in. I just cannot bring myself to act the way people want me to.

Les Thu, Oct 8th 2015 @ 11:26pm

Hi Rebecca So your challenge seems to be to find like minded people......? Are in the right job? Mixing with the right people for you?

Rebecca Fri, Oct 9th 2015 @ 7:55pm

Good point, I have some very close friends who think like I do. I get on OK at work but few people I would want to be very close to but think it is OK to only want to be close to a few people. I go through phases of wanting everyone to like me but don't feel that is very realistic.

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