Social Question

Nullo's avatar

Isn't it good to ignore the "be yourself" mantra if yourself is, in fact, horrid?

Asked by Nullo (21934points) April 25th, 2010

There are lots of nasty people in the world. Telling them to be themselves strikes me as being less than wise.

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20 Answers

Judi's avatar

I think that “nasty” people are often just wounded people. As corny as it sounds, I believe that there is a good person in everyone. No mother looks into her babies eyes and says, “I hope you grow up to be a serial killer.”
Somewhere along the line, the person was hurt and never learned to appropriately process it.
Being your true best self is a good thing.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Very true. If I was to “be myself”, I’d be a hermit. I have to pretend to care about other people just to function in the world. Higher functioning autistics have to work against our basic nature just to minimally fit in with the world. The only thing I was “hurt” by is genetics and there is no cure.

LuckyGuy's avatar

If I was to “just be myself” I wouldn’t shave, and would belch and fart with abandon.
I’d be “by myself” in no time.

janbb's avatar

Reminds me of the Jackie Mason about going for therapy: “What if I meet the real me, and I don’t like myself!”

j0ey's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land I can really relate to that….

janbb's avatar

Edit: “Jackie Mason line”

marinelife's avatar

I think there are all kinds of “selves”. When you are asked to just “be yourself” it may mean your “higher self”.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Yes.Particularly when it comes to werewolves ;)

Cruiser's avatar

I think it would be a bit of a Darwinian “thinning of the herd” moment if you went and told some lunatic to “be themselves”.

thriftymaid's avatar

No, “be yourself” is good advice. If you don’t like yourself, make a change.

Draconess25's avatar

One minute, I’m a reclusive, sobbing misfit. The next, I’m a cocky asshole that punches brick walls so she can lick the blood off her knuckles. Whan I actually am happy, it’s only when I with my current obsession. I can’t be myself, because I don’t know who I am. And what if that person ends up hurting the ones I love even more than my pyscho-personalities?

Berserker's avatar

Be that as it may, changing one’s nature, be it good or bad, is no picnic. Sometimes I wonder if it’s even possible, beyond tolerance or deciding not to eat in between meals.

I always thought it was dismissal advice anyways, shit to say to people when you don’t wanna hear their problems. Like the term sellout, I find it meaningless, really.

DominicX's avatar

When people say “be yourself”, it’s aimed at people who are ashamed of some part of them that is nothing to be ashamed of. For example, people afraid to show their interests for fear of being labeled “gay” or people dumbing themselves down to fit in, that kind of thing. Obviously the statement doesn’t have any exceptions, so if aimed at a rapist or a serial killer or a cheater or even just a liar, it may be the wrong advice to give. But for the most part, that isn’t the kind of thing the statement was designed for.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Draconess25 You might need some expert help in exploring who you really are, especially if you’ve been abused in the past.

Draconess25's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land All I know is that I love art, nature, pain, fighting, blood, food, my two girlfriends, & what little family I give a damn about.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Draconess25 You can work to integrate all those things into a satisfying whole without destroying yourself in the process.

Draconess25's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land I would, if people could accept me for what I’d become.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Draconess25 I believe they can, and you’ll be a happier person also.

Fyrius's avatar

I think you’re on to something, mate.
Beware the catch phrases. They don’t all deserve to be repeated as much as they are.

Personally, it’s much like what @stranger_in_a_strange_land said, for me too. I also had bad luck with the gene lottery in much the same way.

The only way to get over this sort of thing is not to accept yourself the way you are, and to resolve to become a better person. Putting off “being yourself”, so to speak, until you’re the sort of self that you could be happy to be.

Although the sort of people I think you could call “nasty” are also people who care bugger all about “being themselves” or not. I’m thinking of the sort of people for whom prisons were invented.
But for well-intentioned people with, um, a lot of room for improvement, I think you’re right.

mattbrowne's avatar

I think we have to distinguish between personality traits and behavior. People can be rude or polite and it’s possible to change this behavior, although it may take a while. A rude man should in fact ignore the “be yourself” mantra when it comes to rudeness.

People can also be introverted or extroverted. That is for the most part a personality trait. Now if an introverted man wants to become extroverted this effort will fail to a large extend, for example during a first date. In this case, “be yourself” is the better approach. Many women like introverted men and it’s wise to be an authentic person instead of an actor.

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