Christian Counseling: Who Do You Think You Are?



One can read the above as a derogatory question that implies the receiver is worthless and a nobody. For us, the emphasis is on the first “you” and asks about one’s self-image or self-concept?



Self-image is about the characteristics and qualities that make up whom one thinks he or she is and is not. It is developed from what others have said about us, what we say to ourselves and a system of beliefs surrounding those descriptions. This is different, at least to some degree, from a person’s self-presentation—our persona; that is, what we present to the world and how we want to be known. To further complicate it, some of what we all believe about ourselves, both good and bad, are false. Who we think we are is comprised of truth and falsehood to varying degrees.



For this reason, Paul asks those who claim they are follows of Christ to “Test yourselves…examine yourselves.” (2 Cor 13:5) to be sure one is indeed in the faith. We can be self-deceived. Scripture speaks many times over about the need to be cautious about being deceived by others AND by oneself. Obadiah 1:3 says, “‘The arrogance of your heart has deceived you.” And Jeremiah 37:9 says, ‘“Thus says the Lord, ‘Do not deceive yourselves…’’”

One of the ways we can evaluate our own beliefs to gather evidence that either supports or challenges our self-perception is to set beliefs aside and look solely at one’s own behavior. Self-perception theory holds that things and people we approach or move toward reveal a positive attitude and those we avoid or distance ourselves from shed light on a negative attitude. For example, we may say we like and/or love people, but if we avoid them, the truth is one has a negative attitude toward people and, because of the distance one keeps from them, love, at best, will be quite limited. Some may reason they keep distance from people because they are fearful of being hurt, but it reveals a negative attitude of distrust, despite the truth that no one is fully trustworthy.



One other point regarding self-evaluation, engage in it when emotions run high or low. Those are times when temptations are strongest and the heart more transparent. Therefore, looking to one’s history will reveal responses that affirm self-beliefs, as well as contradict others. As one discovers more about who he or she really is, more good will become evident, but one should be prepared to also see more of the sin nature.

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