"This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine This littl..." /> "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine This littl..." />

Be Yourself and Share Yourself with the World

Man playing acoustic guitar“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine/Let it shine/Let it shine

Hide it under a tree Oh no!/I’m going to let it shine
Hide it under a bushel Oh no!/I’m going to let it shine
Hide it under a bushel Oh no!/I’m going to let it shine
Let it Shine/All the time/Let it shine/Oh yeah!” —Spiritual by Harry Dixon Loes

The above reference from the Sermon on the Mount vociferously communicates: Don’t hide your light under a bushel. Originally, this pertained to not hiding one’s faith under a bushel. Common parlance has morphed it into meaning don’t hide your precious, unique self from the world. Be generous, take a risk, share yourself.

In a society that exhorts you to conform, to keep your real thoughts and feelings under wraps, lest they offend or rock the boat, it is not so easy to relax into your true nature. It takes courage to trust that how you are in this moment is exactly how you are supposed to be. Expressing and sharing your true self is your highest calling.

Being authentic does not mean blurting out every thought regardless of its consequences. You can still practice compassion for yourself and others by judiciously speaking your mind.

Loosening the inner litany of “shoulds” stops the cycle of self-silencing inhibiting free expression of your unique talents and perspectives. Conversely, when you shrink into the smallest space you can inhabit, you actually stop yourself from connecting with others in deeper, more meaningful ways.

You may think you can restrict and close up to only some things, but that is an illusion. Just watch what happens when you make a fist. Notice how that actually tenses up other parts of your body, including your breath. The same is true with closing off your sharing mechanism. After a while it becomes second nature to keep your thoughts, feelings, and experiences to yourself. Not only does this deprive the world of your contributions, it shuts off your true self from others, ultimately making real intimacy almost impossible.

The following list shows some examples of inhibiting “shoulds” that can hold you back. Feel free to make your own list, and make sure to start challenging them as vociferously as possible so you can be yourself in all situations.

  • “I should go along to get along.”
  • “I should keep my opinions to myself lest they irk or offend anyone.”
  • “No one will like or respect me if they know what I really think and believe.”
  • “I shouldn’t stand out.”
  • “I shouldn’t rock the boat.”
  • “My opinion isn’t important.”
  • “I can’t stand being noticed.”
  • “I need to better organize my thoughts before I say anything.”
  • “People will think my ideas are stupid, and I am an idiot for having them.”
  • “Someone might disagree with me, and I can’t stand conflict.”

For effective ways of disputing these and other shoulds, please refer to Dr. Albert Ellis’ book: How To Stubbornly Refuse To Make Yourself Miserable About Anything, Yes, Anything.

The more you can open up, without going to the other extreme of oversharing, the more likely it is that people will want to know you better. By speaking up, you invite people in. Close relationships typically thrive on this sense of mutual transparency and openness.

What are you here for, in all your unique glory, if not to be yourself and share that with the world?

Imagine if no flower ever opened.

Let yourself bloom. You may lose some petals, but you will open to the fullness of life: sun, rain, light, and darkness. You are here to share your radiance.

If you want a little more inspiration, watch this short video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMaWsfLYQko (There is some debate about who actually said the quote Odetta shares at the beginning of this video. Regardless of its origin, it is a great gift.)

© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Nicole S. Urdang, MS, NCC, DHM, Holistic Psychotherapy Topic Expert Contributor

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • donna b

    August 17th, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    awww what an uplifting piece!

    I think that there are many times when we forget to be ourselves, to be who and what God intended us to be.
    We get far too caught up in trying to be what we think we should be instead of simply remaining true to who we are.
    Thanks for that validation that quirks and all. it is always better to be you than to try to be something that you aren’t!

  • price

    August 18th, 2012 at 6:58 AM

    be yourself. . . but not to the point of hurting others
    remain kind and compassionate even when sharing your thoughts with others

  • Grace

    August 21st, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    Hi Price,

    What you commented and shared is so encouraging. A wonderful reminder to stay authentic and real! Appreciate.. my sentiments alike.

  • M.cooper

    August 18th, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    I always have trouble putting my thoughts across and am afraid of the consequences.I have never been the kid who will put his hands up in the class to take something up but I would sit there quietly while hoping I am not the one that is pointed out for the job.I dont know why this is but I guess its just my nature.Is it even possible to change this?

    Its not like I am scared of speaking my mind but I feel more comfortable this way.Is something wrong?

  • Grace

    August 21st, 2012 at 8:53 PM

    Hi M Cooper,

    Every personality has their strengths and weaknesses. Embrace your strengths and work on the weaknesses. Do not become discouraged! take heart!

  • Kelly k

    August 19th, 2012 at 5:04 AM

    I have often wondered why so many of us think that we can’t be ourselves, that we have to keep our guard up to make people like us. Is it what we look like, our views and beliefs, or is it that little voice on the iside always there telling you that you aren’t good enough. Whatever it is remember that it can be so damaging to always feel like you are having to hide the very best parts of you. These are the very essence of who we are, what makes us unique and individual, Why on earth is this the part of us that we feel like won’t measure up? There are all sorts of ways that we can improve and and make ourselves stronger, but that doesn’t mean that we have to let go of all of the wonderful little pieces that make each one of us so special.

  • Nicole

    August 19th, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Hi Donna,
    Thanks for taking the time to write.
    Yes, it takes a Herculean effort to be something else, so why not just be yourself?

  • Nicole

    August 19th, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Namaste Price,

    You’re right. Be yourself, but the kind version.

  • Nicole

    August 19th, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    Hi M.,
    There is nothing wrong with you.
    Some of us are simply more introverted and some more extraverted.
    If you want to feel more comfortable talking in public, just practice.
    Start small, maybe just agreeing with someone’s else’s point.
    In time, you will feel less self-conscious and more at ease.

  • Nicole

    August 19th, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    Hello Kelly,

    I agree that sharing our unique self is the only way be can be truly known and appreciated.

    It may be helpful to remember how advertising ridden our culture is. The only way they can sell us most of their products is to make us feel deficient in various ways. Naturally, being bombarded with critical messages has a cumulative effect: increasing insecurity and self-doubt.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


    August 19th, 2012 at 11:49 PM

    It amazes me to see how just so many people let others dictate their behavior, their words and even their thoughts! You may live in a free country but as long as your mind isn’t free you really are not. There is nothing like being free of any external influence and thinking by yourself and doing things. It feels great, try it!

  • ty

    August 20th, 2012 at 4:28 AM

    If this is how we all really felt, then I don’t think that there would be all these issues with depression and anxiety that many of us face everyday. If we are true to ourselves then there is no need for so much worry, so i think that some of us are not being at all honest with ourselves. We have all figured out that in order to make it we have to try pretty hard to conform to what society expectes of us. That’s not necessarily bad, if you only have to compromise a little; but when you have to compromise your entire code of values and ethics, then that’s where you’re going to lse out.

  • Nicole

    August 20th, 2012 at 7:11 AM

    Hi Nathan and Ty,
    Yes, it is wonderful to be free of society’s constraints; however, unless you live in some remote place completely off the grid, you still interact with others.
    I think the key is to be yourself and treat people with as much compassion as possible. The more we embrace our true self with that same tenderness and understanding, the more we can lavish it on others.

  • Mr.Z

    August 20th, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    @Nicole:Being compassionate to people is a great thing I agree.But from my experience the more you try to be compassionate and nice to others the more they try to treat you like dirt!Not everybody is like that but a majority are and that just turns more and more people into something like them!There is no end to this sadly.

  • Grace

    August 21st, 2012 at 8:19 PM

    Hi Mr Z, Agree with you. When we are nice and kind to people, most of them will simply take advantage and take it for granted without being reciprocal. I have shared much of such experiences, but nevertheless i will still be myself but this time i have learnt to be wise and discerning. It is in my personality to be friendly and kind hence i am not going to let such selfish and nasty people to change me to become like them.. no way! Be who i am.. unique individual.

  • Nicole

    August 20th, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    Hi Mr. Z,
    Yes, there are people who will treat you poorly, but many will be kind and open-hearted.
    I just try to be the change I want to see.

  • Grace

    August 21st, 2012 at 8:41 PM

    Hey donna b,

    Being true to ourselves and be who we are as God has made us to be is vital. Trying to imitate others or to please people to gain their love and acceptance will only make us lose our original self.

  • Билјана

    January 5th, 2013 at 4:23 AM

    Great article, full of growth!

  • Anonymous

    December 3rd, 2014 at 3:24 AM

    Adults know you have to be a group player, be skilled at office politics, and perform heavy emotional labor. No one cares about your special snowflake self, only how well you can be an “Organization Machine” and realize you are only a replacable cog. So, you’d better conform—or someone who can will be found.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of GoodTherapy.org's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.