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Five Life Lessons from Jeffrey Marsh’s “How To Be You”

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I first came across Jeffrey Marsh thanks to the internet. I know what you are thinking, but it is true – there are some beautiful parts of the online world and Jeffrey Marsh has created such a space. When I first engaged with their work, I felt like I was being welcomed into a big family. Marsh is compassionate, kind, educational, and extremely welcoming. In a time of great upheaval, their words are comforting.

When I saw that Marsh had a book out, I wanted to read it right away. I decided to listen to it through audible as sometimes I find that these kinds of books are better listened to rather than read. When you sit down with an audibook from Marsh, it feels like you are sitting down with a friend.

Marsh grounds a lot of their work in Buddhism, queerness, and self love. Their work is relatable and powerful for anyone, but especially for people wanting to learn more about life and who they are. So here are the five life lessons I have been trying to practice since reading Marsh’s book.

1. Stop punishing yourself

Stop beating yourself up. Stop hating yourself for your past mistakes. Let go of that. It won’t help you feel better or good enough. The world beats you up enough already, so don’t do it to yourself.

Marsh obviously says this better than I can, but I feel like this is a really important take away from their book. It is okay to forgive yourself and to not punish yourself for not being perfect.

2. Believe in your truth

Deep down, inside yourself you know who you are. You know what feels right for you. It doesn’t matter that you might feel out of place or that there are no words for describing who you are or how you feel. None of those things negate who you are. We live in a society sorely lacking in linguistic diversity to describe the world around us. That doesn’t mean you should change to fit something that isn’t who you know. You know your truth. Believe it – you don’t need to prove it to anyone else. When you believe your truth, you can truly ‘be’.

3. Learn about yourself

As Marsh describes in their book, a lot of people – Marsh included – grew up in a world that forced them to be something they weren’t. It can be difficult to know what is truly you. What is you without the trauma? What do you love to do, how do you like to spend your time when you don’t need to prove yourself to a world that doesn’t understand you. This isn’t an easy task, but you owe it to yourself.

4. Feel and acknowledge your emotions

It can be easy to shove emotions down, but let me tell you something for nothing – they will eventually leak. And you don’t want that. Sit with your emotions and explore why you feel that way. You can’t believe in your truth or learn about yourself if you are filled with blind anger and sadness.

5. Don’t project on others

This one is tough, but the next time you feel yourself judging others or making assumptions about others, ask yourself – is there a part of my own insecurities coming out here? In order to love ourselves we need to ask why we think and feel certain things and this also means asking ourselves if we are projecting our issues on to others. If we project our own issues, trauma, guilt, etc. on others, then we can ultimately be contributing to a cycle that perpetuates these negative aspects in other peoples’ lives.

Marsh’s self-help book was very accessible to read and understand. This isn’t a book just for queer or nonbinary people – this book is for all. If you are wanting to create a social media feed that is positive, inclusive, and will ultimately drop a few truth bombs when you least expect it, then Marsh is your person.

What self-help books are you reading this year? What are you doing to work on yourself? As always share the reading love.

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