DON’T Be Yourself

DON'T Be YourselfA lot of people seem to think that who you are is more important than what you do. “Just be yourself” has become a slogan in the self-esteem movement.

Being yourself is touted as some kind of aspiration worth achieving–a sort of goal that, once fulfilled, equates to happiness and wholeness.(Doesn’t Oprah tell people to “be themselves” along with telling them they are their own gods?)

When life throws you trouble, people tell you to be yourself. When conflict arises, people tell you to be yourself. When you question your purpose in life, we often remind ourselves to, well, just be ourselves.

But what if being yourself is what got you into trouble in the first place? What if being yourself ain’t so great? I propose that you actually shouldn’t be yourself.

There is a popular quote floating around the web, appearing on magnets and gift cards that reads:

Always be yourself, because the people that matter don’t mind, and the people that mind don’t matter.

At first reading, a person might nod their head in agreement with this little sentiment. However, upon second reading, hopefully you’ll see what I see. Which is, in fact, the opposite of what everyone else says. Being yourself is not a guarantee that people will like you.

In fact, the more you act like yourself the more people might begin to dislike you. Okay, so what is it I’m saying–that people should walk around acting phony and pretend to be something they’re not? Well, sorta…yeah.

You see, so much of our “self” is tied up in who we used to be, that is before Christ, and not who we actually are now, after Christ. Instead, “Be yourself” has become a catch phrase to excuse undesirable behavior.

People will also throw around platitudes like, “You’re great just the way you are,” or “Never change.” (yearbook signing anyone?) You’ve perhaps also heard “be yourself” disguised as: “That’s just the way I am.” Or the slightly more annoying and stealthy “That’s just how God made me.”

Really? God made you to be a brash, rude, condescending jerk? Hmmm…He must have had an off day. Because maybe, just maybe, you’re using that line in an attempt to explain away your less-than-desirable character traits—the parts of yourself you have yet to let Him get a hold of…

Take me, for instance, I know exactly who I’d be if I didn’t know Jesus. I’d be an obnoxious, snobbish, judgmental chick hell-bent on letting you know that I don’t like you–never have and never will. I’d have a superiority complex that could rival an NBA player.

But instead, since knowing Jesus, I have become painfully aware of just how much I suck. No, He doesn’t tell me I suck and He would never say that, but He does gently and lovingly point out my not-so-swell spots. My pride. My lack of self-worth. My anger. My laziness.

I don’t want to be myself. I want to be like Him. I don’t want to excuse away my bad behaviors as some kind of God-given gift. I want to let His Spirit eradicate all that’s left of “me.” Because, if I’m really being honest, being myself isn’t so great…which is just another reason I’m so thankful for Him.

Are you guilty of ever using the excuse “Well, that’s just how I am…” How much have you changed since knowing God? Spill it.

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26 thoughts on “DON’T Be Yourself”

  1. “You see, so much of our “self” is tied up in who we used to be, that is before Christ, and not who we actually are now, after Christ. Instead, “Be yourself” has become a catch phrase to excuse undesirable behavior.”

    Yes! Yes! Yes!…

    Before Christ, we went around being ourselves (like lady gaga! we were born that way…)…but when Christ came…We had to be Born again! Why would he tell us we had to be born again if nothing was wrong with ourselves?…uh…that cause everything about ouselves WAS/IS wrong!

    soo good Nicole…

    God Bless!

    1. Arny, exactly. Being “born again” means we aren’t the same people–or we shouldn’t be. “A new creation” likewise means we aren’t piecemeal-ed together with bits of our old selves, as well as our new selves. We are altogether new.

      Thanks Arny!

    2. Shut the FUCK up! God isn’t real you gullible Cunts, he’s a figment of your imagination dickheads. Now kill you’re selves you crazy fags. I do agree that you shouldn’t be your self, because being yourself is gay as hell. Now look at my boner and suck it! :3

  2. Hmm, interesting thought. Perhaps a better spin on “be yourself” is “be your self in Christ.” In my own personal experience, I often compare and contrast myself to all these great heroes of the faith, like St. Francis of Assisi or Mother Theresa. And when I feel like I’m not measuring up to their level, I beat myself up (do you see a reoccurring pattern here?). So in those instances I have to remind myself that I’m not St. Francis of Assisi . . . I’m Travis Mamone. I have to be the person God made me.

    Does that make sense?

    1. Travis, I totally get the point you’re making. It is so easy to compare ourselves to other believers and think we are somehow falling short in God’s eyes. I taught a group of women last year on this topic and as I studied for the teaching, I realized (and I mean I knew this intellectually, it had just never struck my heart) that God never ever compares us to someone else. He is impartial, unbiased, and totally on our side. It was a very freeing moment for me. Praying the same for you friend.

  3. I wrote a post a few weeks ago titled: “How to be a bad Christian”. And in the body of the post I wrote “be yourself”. We are not called to be ourselves. There is something tremendously dangerous in a denying of oneself. That is, in fact, the call of a disciple. Denying, taking up that cross, and following Him. No room for “myself” in that call.

    1. Okay, that is crazy. I just looked up your post. I missed that one somehow. Great minds really do think alike. Although you said way more than me in about 487 less words! Love it!

      The call of a disciple as you so wisely point out makes me think of Paul in Galatians writing: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” No room for self. Amen.

  4. You make some good points. We don’t – especially as Christians – get to just let it all hang out to the annoyance of others.

    The actual quote is, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” ― Dr. Seuss It’s one of my favorite quotes because it gives me courage to not just accept the status quo, but to make a difference in my world, based on the unique talents and perspectives that God has given me. I don’t get the same sense of “be yourself” from that quote – rather more of a “be honest” about what you believe and what you represent; which is perhaps a more positive concept than just “being yourself”.

    1. Ed, point taken. Although, I think more people read quotes like that and feel encouraged to be snobbish, rude, moody, or unkind because hey, their friends will still like them so who cares about everyone else. Though, I think you can certainly draw a positive message from the original Dr Suess quote, as you have done.

      Sadly, however, I don’t think most people do–instead they aren’t necessarily focused on “making a difference” in their world so much as getting away with being themselves and never having to grow or change. You, my friend, are not like that in any way and that is why you see the good there is to be be seen in that message.

  5. Guilty as charged.

    Knowing who I would be without Jesus makes me cringe a little – I wasn’t a very pleasant person to deal with before. Some of these problems I still have till now, but God is definitely working on me.

    I still sometimes use the “that’s just who I am” excuse when I feel like someone is attacking a character flaw in me – the biggest of them being my pride. Even if they’re pointing these thing out calmly and out of genuine desire to see me better myself, I get very defensive and pull out the “who I am” excuse.

    Your post was refreshing to read – I love your writing style.

    P.S. Pride; lack of self-worth; anger; laziness – ditto.

    1. Monica, hello my fellow-defensive-when-being-called-out-friend. I do the exact same thing, only hopefully less and less as time goes on. I have felt the ugly ‘that’s just how I am” card rise up in me and I have to squash it. Instead, i try to think “that’s who I used to be…” Big difference. But as you said, God is still working. I’m so thankful He never stops working on us.

      Thanks so much for sharing and commenting too!

  6. Too true. Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” Jesus not only saves us from this death but gives us the power to change. He invites and empowers us to be in a loving relationship with Him and to allow that relationship to define who we are. Thank God for His mercy to jerks like me.

    1. Tom, wow. You nailed it. This is great stuff: “He invites and empowers us to be in a loving relationship with Him and to allow that relationship to define who we are.” That is the Gospel right there, even for us jerks.

  7. I love this post!
    This is something I’ve often thought of–that because we are inherently sinful, our nature is to sin. Therefore, “being ourselves” is a really, really bad idea. Instead, Christ is our model.

    And I’d be the same as you if I just decided to “be myself”– snobby, judgmental, and way, way too egotistical. Thank goodness I know that about “myself.”

  8. Saying “be yourself” is drastically different from “be who you are and say what you feel” (thanks goes to Ed for posting the actual quote by Dr. Seuss).

    I’m against being phony or fake period, especially to appear to be something you’re not; it’s a form of lying, which is a sin for a reason. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being open about who you are and what you believe. However, as a Christians we’re called to not settle and to be open with change as well.

    No one (Christian or not) is exactly the same they were 5 years ago because everyone changes whether they want to or not, so obviously no one is “great the way they are” otherwise there would be no reason for change. I think the “be yourself” message is a perversion of the “be honest with yourself” message.

    So I agree with you 50/50.

    The “be yourself” message should not be used or taken as an anti-change message and as Christians we should be constantly allowing Jesus to change and alter our lives, what we do and how we think. At the same time, we need to “be ourselves” in order for Jesus to change us. He can’t change what we don’t admit needs to be changed, the only way we’ll admit it is if we’re honest with who we are and lay ourselves at His feet as we are.

    1. Chris, I do agree with you. I think the distinction you draw between “be yourself” and “be honest with yourself” is an important one. I agree that believers need to be aware of their own sin and areas that need to change. I think of King David telling the Lord to search his heart.

      I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that the “be yourself” message is a perversion of “be honest with yourself.” One is a slogan for excuses, the other is an encouragement to better one’s self.

      Great insights Chris. You got me thinking. Thanks so much for adding to the discussion.

  9. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4

    When I read your post (loved it, by the way), all I could think was, “your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” I want myself to be hidden!

    1. Julie, that is the perfect verse! Yes, I too want to be hidden in Christ. I always picture an eclipse when I read that verse–God eclipse me so that He can shine. Thanks for sharing and adding to the conversation.

  10. I’ve changed a ton in some ways since knowing God and I have a lot of work to do in other areas. You’re so right…I don’t want to be “who I am.” I want to be who God is making me because that’s a better me than I could ever be on my own. Wonderful post, Nicole.

  11. This is one of the best posts I’ve ever read. I totally agree, it’s becoming perfectly fine to use the excuse “I’m just being myself” to justify any action. It took me over a year into being a Christian to realize how me “being myself” is not going to benefit me at all. The only time my life works is when I’m praying/striving to be more like Christ. Truly the only good part about me is that God lives in me!

  12. I think that the whole “Stewart Smiley/SNL” gosh darnit I’m good enough self esteem from the 80’s and 90’s morphed into this “Be yourself” of today. In an effort to build each others self esteem we became plastic. The “Be Yourself” mantra, I think came as a cry for authenticity. However I think of late we revel in our genuine-ness so that we have made it a demi-god of its own. Now, we must share every gory detail or go make some gory details to share before we are deemed “Real.”

    Being yourself at all costs is the antithesis to Jesus. He was able to be Himself no matter what because He was TRUTH. We are not.

    You punctuated this point by saying “I don’t want to be myself. I want to be like Him.”
    Thanks

  13. “No, He doesn’t tell me I suck and He would never say that, but He does gently and lovingly point out my not-so-swell spots. My pride. My lack of self-worth. My anger. My laziness.”

    I am on the autism spectrum so I have communication issues. If you don’t mind will you elaborate on what you are trying to state here because I do not understand or follow your train of thought?

    How is it possible for one to have pride and to lack self worth? I thought if one was excessively prideful then this person had excessive self-worth. If I am wrong will you please explain?

  14. I like this one, just being ourselves can be dangerous. I used to pride myself on being myself and being real but the only thing I was really being was a douche. I was mean, judgmental, arrogant and sometimes liked using my intelligence to cut people down just because I could. I was angry and alone because my behavior burned people out and pushed them away. However, since Christ coming into my life He has shown me how not awesome I am but how awesome I could be by letting him live through me. I am now more humble, more loving, a little more patient, more kind and things that used to bother me don’t as much. YAY to Jesus being awesome :)

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