Focus on Yourself Series: Being True to Yourself

Being true to yourself

A bunch of words and ideas come to mind when I think about being true to yourself:

Integrity, honesty (with yourself and others), principle, authenticity (I really like that word!), acting on the beliefs and values you hold, doing what is right in spite of the consequences, backbone – yeah!  

I think I like these words because I used to be a doormat. A walkover with no identity of my own. I allowed others to think for me and make decisions for me.

It was Shakespeare that said, “To thine own self be true.”

That’s a great thought, but you have to know yourself before you can be true to yourself, right? Otherwise, what are you being true to?

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” Oscar Wilde

In short, being true to yourself means you conduct your life according to the values and beliefs you hold inside.

But to do that you must know what you believe, know what values you hold.

Knowing yourself

To be true to yourself you have to know who and what you are.

You must have your own identity apart from those around you. To think for yourself and be yourself even if no one else agrees with you.

But beware of creating values and beliefs based on your own thinking. Jeremiah 17:9 says that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

And Proverbs 28:24 tells us that “he that trusteth in his own heart is a fool…”

Clearly, it’s not safe to trust your own thinking and feeling. The only way to come to a true knowledge of yourself is by allowing God to show you truth. He says, “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins…” Jeremiah 17:10

Would you agree then, that the beginning of self-knowledge is surrender to God’s scrutiny; an opening up of yourself to Him?

Figuring out who you are

Do you know yourself? Your strengths and weaknesses? Do you understand your moods, reactions and responses to what happens around you? Do you understand how and why you interact with others the way you do? Do you know what you believe, what values you hold? Do you like yourself?  

How do you know if you are being true to yourself?

When you are being true to yourself, you are completely honest with what you feel, value, and desire. You are able to communicate your feelings genuinely to yourself and others.

To be true to yourself you have to accept yourself, because how can you be true to something or someone you don’t accept? (Read Accepting Yourself )

If you are true to yourself you are able to say ‘No’, and be at peace with the fact that you can’t please everyone all the time. You know that as long as you are pleasing God everything will be OK. We often fear being true to ourselves because we fear the disapproval of others. We have to learn to seek to please God and not man. (Galatians 1:10)

I couldn’t stand up for myself because I feared the disapproval of others, but as I began to surrender to God daily, asking Him to guide me in every situation, I began to develop a healthy sense of “self” – who I am, what I believe, what I will or won’t do.

As a result, I began voicing my opinion and standing up against the people who walked over me. Believe me, it wasn’t easy and it created conflict! But it was so good to become an individual.

When you are true to yourself your improved self-respect will generate respect from others because they sense that you are strong and capable of standing up for yourself and your values.

What being true to yourself does not mean

Being true to yourself doesn’t mean you don’t respect other people’s opinions or that the world revolves around you. You are considerate of others, but you don’t allow them to define you or make decisions for you.

But hang on! Being true to yourself doesn’t mean living any way you want either. Jails are full of people who do that and don’t care how they affect others. You must be responsible and hold yourself accountable for your thoughts and actions.

Oh, and let me warn you: some people will think you’re selfish because you aren’t living like they want you to. Get used to that.  

Tips on being true to yourself:

  • Be your genuine self – always.
  • Follow your own value system – do you know what that is?
  • Listen to the advice of others but make up your own mind – talk to God about it.
  • Recognise and develop your talents (read Developing Yourself).
  • Stand up for what you believe in – even if it’s unpopular and you stand alone.
  • Speak honestly – no matter who you’re talking to. Use your discretion though! Sometimes it’s best to be quiet.
  • Don’t hide your preferences just to please others.
  • Be honest with yourself about what you think, feel, want, and need.
  • Learn to share your thoughts and feelings – with discretion and where appropriate.
  • Learn to say no. It’s great to make sacrifices, but it’s not selfish to honour your own needs and make them a priority.
  • Learn to be OK with not being liked. You can’t please everyone.

When you do things that don’t reflect the real you, you will be unhappy with yourself and end up confused because you don’t know who to please.

Give yourself permission to be yourself. God does.

After all is said and done, I like how Confucius put it:

“And remember, no matter where you go, there you are.”

You cannot escape yourself so be sure that the real you is someone you are happy with and who God is happy with. End of story.

Do you know yourself? Are you true to yourself or do you change depending on who you are with?

About The Author

Jennifer Lovemore

Jennifer has diplomas in relationship counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), is a certified SYMBIS facilitator, and is certified in TPM (Transformation Prayer Minsitry). She lives in South Africa, has three grown children, and is married to her best friend – Richard.

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