To Be Or Not To Be Ourselves

Many of our relationships, whether we like it or not, place restrictions on us that prevent us from being ourselves.

Whether for occupational, familial, or political reasons, we cannot fully open up to everyone, in every way, in every circumstance. If we do, not only will we jeopardize the relationships themselves, but also our reputations and our ability to be effective within those relationships.

If we want to be useful in our relationships, we must have boundaries within them. We must establish which parts of ourselves are appropriate, necessary, and helpful for the circumstance and the company we find ourselves in.

Our employers require different facets of who we are than our spouses do, and our spouses require different parts of who we are than our children or our parents, siblings, or friends do. This is not a matter of inauthenticity, but of appropriateness, courtesy, and respect with regards to ourselves and the actual relationships.

Not everyone should get every part of us. Some aspects of who we are must be held in reserve for those with whom we are closest. Our goal should be to be whichever version of ourself the relationship most needs without sacrificing our integrity in the process.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.

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