Grooming Personalities

I remember the first time I ever saw myself on a video recording. It was the 1980s, and one of my relatives had purchased a large VHS camcorder to record memories at a family gathering. After spending a few hours recording video footage, my uncle put the VHS tape into the VCR, and I saw myself from a brand new perspective. For the first time in my life, I saw myself in 360 degrees, not just the face-to-face perspective that we see when we look in a mirror. More startlingly, I could hear the sound of my voice, I could watch my body language, and I saw the ways that I interacted with others. To put it mildly, I was very uncomfortable with what I was seeing in myself.

“Is this really me?” I wondered. “Is this really how other people see me?”

Many of us are uncomfortable fully accepting the person that God created us to be. One of the most perplexing riddles in life is that many of us have inaccurate perspectives concerning who we really are, and much of the time, we are too critical of ourselves.

Outwardly, we may not fully embrace the shapes of our faces, the condition of our teeth, the weight of our bodies, or the color of our hair. We don’t like seeing pictures of ourselves because we don’t want to be reminded of how we look. However, it is not healthy to live in denial of our outward appearance. We shouldn’t avoid taking a look at ourselves from time to time. Perhaps we could benefit from a haircut. Maybe we could lose a few pounds. It might not be a bad idea to buy a new shirt. There is nothing wrong with taking an honest look at ourselves, embracing the temple that God has entrusted to us, and doing what we can to promote the health and beauty of our bodies.

The same principle is true for our inner selves. Sometimes we are unwilling to take an honest look at the personality that others experience when they spend time with us. There may be ugly aspects of ourselves that we can change. Perhaps we have a bitter and pessimistic attitude. Maybe we spend too much time gossiping and saying critical things about others. It could be that we carry a gloomy and depressed vibe every time we walk into a crowded room.

I am not suggesting that we will ever be able to make fundamental changes to our core selves. God designed us as individuals with unique personalities and special gifts. We will never be able to change the underlying structure of our bodies and souls. For instance, a small-framed, five-foot-tall woman will never become a beefy, six-foot-tall man. Similarly, a quiet, introverted, logical person is unlikely to transform into someone loud, extraverted, and emotional. Some basic aspects of our core selves are impossible to change, and we should embrace those parts of ourselves that God has entrusted to us.

On the other hand, God does allow us to change some things about ourselves. He gives us the ability to develop the discipline to control our eating habits and to exercise. He allows us to choose the clothes we will wear each day, and he gives us the responsibility to groom ourselves by showering, maintaining our hair, and using sweet-smelling products like lotions, perfumes, and deodorants.

Similarly, God allows us to groom our personalities. There are aspects of our inner selves that need to be maintained. For this reason, it is important to take a look at ourselves from time to time to ensure that we are presenting the best version of ourselves to the world. When you look at your personality in the mirror, what do you see? Is there a mood that needs to be adjusted like a crooked tie? Is there an emotion that is messed up like uncombed hair? Are you carrying an offensive attitude into the room that smells like a person who hasn’t showered in a month?

It’s true: There are many things about ourselves that we cannot change. However, many things are within our control. It is not always comfortable to look at ourselves, both physically and emotionally, but if we are unwilling to see ourselves from an outside perspective, we risk never changing things that are possible to change.

Personal transformation is possible, but the process begins by taking an honest look at yourself. It is not easy to admit that we might need to lose a few pounds, and similarly, it is often painful to accept that we might need to spend some time taking control over negative aspects of our personalities, such as bitterness, dishonesty, or manipulativeness. Even though this may feel uncomfortable, it is a necessary first step to admit that you need to make a change. The important thing is to make a commitment to making changes that will help you feel better about yourself the next time you see yourself in the mirror — or worse — in a video.

[Speaking with a counselor is a good way to “look in the mirror” and make adjustments to your inner self. If you know it is time to make some changes, a counselor can help you begin the process in a safe, accepting, and confidential environment.¬†Click here to set up an appointment¬†with a Christian counselor].

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