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  • Julia Ruff

5 Ways To Be More Yourself At The Workplace

Updated: Mar 14

We all know.. If we are ourselves, we are more joyful and life is simply more fun. But how damn hard is it to be fully ourselves in today’s world?


Okay, let's face it. People & social media can’t stop flooding us with trillion expectations that try to mould us into a version we might believe we want to be. Without even noticing we try to bend, force ourselves to live up to these expectations and standards, and start to mimic a certain way of living even though we have never consciously agreed with it.

Then there are our own expectations of ourselves. To be more of that, less of that… More productive, more wealthy, more healthy…. Less grumpy… more smiley.. more grateful… More positive… And then… there is a damn long list of all these tasks that bore the shit out of us….


I am honest to you guys. Setting up my own business entails so many tasks that literally squeeze the life out of me. Tasks that are so mechanical and monotonous in their nature or that are so NOT my field of interest that I could literally cry thinking about which situation I put myself in. Well, I know that this phase is temporary. Building up your business means to build up infrastructure first. So I don’t want to dwell too long on it. But the last few years I became incredibly sensitive to what cherishes my inner truth and what not, and I would like to share my learnings in the hope that some of you can benefit from it.


So before I start with my 5 tips for how you can be more yourself at the workplace, I want to share one big lesson of mine. Many of you might have noticed similar things about themselves, but you might have never been able to really make sense of it.

So here we go: I had to learn that I thrive in change. And it still feels strange to write it down this way, but it is the truth. My system gets literally sick if I keep myself too long in the same situation, same routine, same environment. My life force starts to stagnate big time, and while I think, I need more rest, more stability, more ‘me time’, more time for reflection to feel better… it’s actually the opposite. What my soul truly needs is more space to be spontaneous, more space to run free, more space to just be.


So when I say “I thrive in change”, I don’t mean that I need to move constantly from one country to another, and seek one adventure after another. I am talking here about the subtle changes that our souls need to feel alive. The fresh wind that comes with new conversations, new perspectives, new learnings, deep laughter, new views, new tastes, new evening and weekend activities…. and sometimes there doesn’t have to be anything new in that situation. Sometimes, it is just that different feeling, that ‘space’ that an afterwork sunset drink creates in your mind. And without even drinking it, your system winds down because you allow yourself to completely reset. You reward yourself for all the hard work you have already put in this week, and your body feels it and completely receives it. It can be the space on a Saturday night, the space between the sweet popcorn smell at the ticket station and the movie that is about to start. It can be the space in which we are waiting at the train station for our best friend to arrive and can’t wait to fall into their arms. It can be moments like that which make you feel different, rich in experience, exploring the depth of life, no matter how simple they are.


So when we talk about expressing ourselves fully….. We talk about expressing ourselves through our bodies, through movement, through sexuality, through mimics, through speech, through laughter and sounds, through our creativity, our emotions, our skills & gifts, our truth, ….. Expressing & receiving love is a very important one in that context. For some of us, that part requires the biggest amount of courage depending on how much pain we already experienced and try to protect us from.


But yeah, a life in true self-expression is for me the only life that is worth living. That’s why I decided to take the path I took. And that’s why I know it’s worth the temporary suffering. There is no day that I doubt that I took the path of an entrepreneur despite the tasks that try to suck the life out of me. Yet, I need to watch out for myself. To not fall back into thinking & behaviour patterns that make me feel heavy. It needs to let go of fear. It needs to take conscious action. It needs to break routines & to cultivate joy. Because that’s another deep belief of mine… I believe that we attract all health & true wealth into our lives when we act from joy & express ourselves fully. We don’t need to achieve anything to deserve that joy. That joy is within us. Every single day. Accessible every minute of our lives. And the more we cultivate & cherish it, the more we get to experience it. That’s honestly, the coolest thing that our human souls are capable of in my opinion. To multiply joy & love beyond any limits by simply being ourselves. It’s simply genius.


Okay, enough of my random wisdom spreading. Let’s get to the practical tips. How can we be more of ourselves at the workplace?


I see us as beings that are meant to be in MOTION. We are not here to only function! All my tips honour that aspect of us. That we are meant to express ourselves in all emotional colours, in all varieties, in the good and bad moods, in our boredness, overwhelmedness and total weirdness!


My first tips may appear ‘stupid’ or somehow ‘redundant’ to you, because they are so simple. Keep reading. You may realise, being ourselves, in all our facets, despite the pressure of social norms, is much simpler than we think. We just need to simply DO it and BE ourselves in front of others. We might be surprised about the positive effect on the people around us.



1. Express your worries. Express your frustration. Express your joy.

You can do this in two different forms: Bounce ideas/feelings with a good colleague of yours OR talk to yourself. When we are sitting all day behind a screen or are occupied with monotonous technical customer support, our emotions can pile up and have no chance to find their way out of our systems. Instead of keeping them all in or spilling them all over our partners at home, we can intentionally give them some space throughout the day and help them to find their expression. When I worked in an office or coworking space, I had this unspoken pact with my best buddies. Whenever we started to smile at the other person across our laptops, we waited until the other person gave us a signal to speak. And then we were letting it all out. Sometimes it took us 15 minutes, but we always felt SO much better afterwards.


Now when I work alone and I am frustrated, I usually start with a sound like: ARRRRRRGH! And continue expressing my frustration very specifically… OHHHHH MY DEAR GOOOOOOD, THIS IS ANNOYIIIIING! I HATE THIS! THIS IS BORING AS FUCK! OKAY, ONE HOUR MORE AND THEN YOU MOVE ON TO SOMETHING MORE EXCITING. YOU GOT THIS! SHORT TERM PAIN FOR LONG TERM HAPPINESS!


Positive self-talk is great of course. It helps you to cultivate a motivating culture for yourself and I tell you, it makes such a big difference to hear those words from yourself, spoken out loud!

2. Make stupid faces and sounds behind the screen or in front of the mirror (3x 2 minutes).

When we sit 8h behind a screen without talking, our faces can become super sleepy. As much as our bodies need some exercise to be healthy, our facial muscles need movement as well. Even if we talk, but not use our full range of movement, our faces can become almost numb in certain parts. I always remember how my sister saw me passing by in a train talking to a friend and she told me, I looked like I was about to beat someone up. I never had a charming face when I was very focused working on something, but that was a wakeup call. My face was sleeping for yeaaaars studying at school and at university. So this is what I do: I make big faces, big eyes, a big mouth. Then I squeeze everything, move everything around, to the left and the right, and just discover every corner of my face. I also massage my face and give it fast medium strong claps while making O-sounds. It reminds me of facial yoga where your objective is to stimulate your blood circulation and the tissue structure beneath your skin to prevent wrinkles. I also move around my eyes, turn my eyeballs to the very left and to the very right, and look at different spots at different distances behind my screen to make use of my eye muscles. Eye yoga is super beneficial and if practised daily, it can prevent you from getting glasses. I always end the practice by smiling very big! If you add sounds throughout the entire practice, even better! Try it! Don’t hide yourself doing these faces. Own it. Trust me. If you feel comfortable doing it, other people will feel inspired and want to do the same. It can feel super liberating to not be so serious all the time!


3. Dance, stretch & move on your chair, in meetings, on the toilet, while walking down the hallway.


Well, let me share this with you from my own experience. I used to work out hard for 1h, but then sit on my ass for the rest of the day in the belief that this was healthy for me. Well, it was certainly better than not moving at all, but what my body actually needed was more gentle movement throughout the day. Moving helps us to get our body fluids going and to bring oxygen to all our organs, limbs, and brain. I really enjoyed watching one of my former bosses who was stretching in our meetings and felt super comfortable doing it in front of us. He normalised this sort of movement at the workplace and it encouraged us to do the same. We also had the possibility to have standing desks to work on. Another colleague of mine liked dancing into and out from our meeting rooms. Just because she could. Why should she not dance? I loved it. And it instantly put all of us into a better mood and made things feel lighter.



4. Cherish the inner child in you and express it.

I remember how I was always trying to appear very competent in front of my bosses. What I didn’t realise is how that constant ‘trying’ created tension in me and lifted me further away from my true self. In fact, I think it provoked exactly the opposite of what I intended. I felt I actually lost credibility and that I appeared inauthentic. One Monday I was in an incredibly good mood after a fun weekend. I was waiting for a client to discuss a CSR project, but he was still talking to our boss. I approached the two of them with an attitude as if they were my best kindergarten friends and I was ready to play. My body language was playful, fluid, and I was almost bouncing, being excited to take over our client. When my boss saw me this way, he had to smile and I felt that I gained back his respect after losing it by 'trying so hard' all the time. I had the impression that he valued me for my excitement and the positive vibes I was spreading in the office. I felt that he valued me for being my true self and making others feel comfortable by feeling comfortable myself.


You can drop into your inner child by engaging in activities in your leisure time that kick you out of your head and put you into a state of play. At the workplace that can simply mean to try to score by throwing your paperwork in a rubbish can, to build a slingshot with a spoon, to play foosball, to dance, to jump, to build yourself a paper hat or paint tiny people on your colleagues notes. But it can be as simple as just imagining yourself as the tiny version of yourself that couldn’t wait to play with others. If you can’t remember how that feels, try to engage more in non-competitive games with children or adults.


5. Let go of expectations, tune into your true self & boost your confidence.


The experience with me being more accepted if I was more myself at the workplace, made me very observant of these social dynamics at all types of settings. And I realised, when we are our true selves, when we are just unfiltered.. Which may mean to be joyful, or just relaxed and ‘leaned-back’, or sad, annoyed and cynical… other people can grasp it on a subconscious level and feel immediately more at ease themselves. It’s almost like our system signals us: ‘You are safe. You can drop your mask now.’ And the cool thing is we can tap into that power every single minute by tuning into our own energetic vibration. You can practice that in every little encounter throughout the day, with the barista of the coffee shop around the corner, the guy from your delivery service, the cashier at the supermarket. Play with your voice & attitude. And see in which way their attitude towards you changes. When I am too nice, like ‘insecure friendly’, people lose respect as well. Find your voice & vibration that makes you & them feel comfortable.


It’s a practice which makes you attuned with yourself, but also makes you aware of how much power you have to change your energetic vibration. You can feel super low one moment and after an old-school hiphop song that reminds you of “worrying less and smiling more”, you might feel already much lighter. So if you are at work, and you feel your job is shit. Life is shit. Feel it. Acknowledge how you feel. And then transform it into a “I give a shit” attitude by asking yourself how important that work really is. And how much your ‘miserable’ situation is ‘set in stone’ and unchangeable. And then transform it into a positive vibration by expressing gratitude towards your job and life situation. Reminding you of all the good things that it offers you. And think about how you can reward yourself this coming weekend. Create a highlight you can look forward to. You have the power to do so. Every day.


And hey, many of us carry insecurities with us since our childhood. I get it. Sometimes it’s not so easy to transform these critical voices in our heads towards positive thoughts and self-talk. But Jesus christ, are you not sick of playing it small? If you allow these voices to talk you down, you lose the game. I want to encourage you to start to shine. As bright as you can. With all your flaws and gifts. Because you are so damn amazing and loveable in your wholeness, and born to do magic on this planet. Please don’t hide your greatness. Show what you can. Believe in yourself and don’t be scared of falling! You ARE FREAKING AMAZING! If you express yourself fully and you fall, there will be 10 people lifting you up because they admire you for being yourself and trying it! TRY IT, MAKE MISTAKES, COME BACK STRONGER! Be brave, express yourself and don’t let yourself down. Ever.


Summing it up

So yeah, my point is…. We can either continue painting a grey rainy sky every single day, hide ourselves, hide our greatness. Or… we take action, make the changes to feel better about life, and paint that FUCKING radiant rainbow we all deserve and can look forward to every single day.


Namaste.


If you want to learn more about my approach to Regenerative Leadership, follow my free online tutorials on Instagram or subscribe to my Youtube Channel. You can also book me as your personal Leadership Coach & Trainer. Hit me up! (www.jr-leadership.com)


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