ELi5 the axiom; “you are who you show yourself to be”



Axiom, maxim, I forget which

In: Other

I see it as if you say you are a coward but prove time and again that you have done brave things, then you are seen as someone brave. What people percieve you to be is a lot of what people see as who you are.

Along with the saying, ‘if you talk the talk, then walk the walk.” Otherwise you are seen as what ever you do instead of what you always say you will do.

Aphorism might be the word you’re looking for, although maxim works too.

It simply means that whatever we may *think* about ourselves, it’s our actions and the way that others view us that says more about ourselves. For example, may think of myself as a generous person, but if I act in selfish ways, it doesn’t matter what I think about myself, I’m showing that it’s not true, and nobody else is going to see what isn’t there. I can scream all day about how generous and giving I am, but nobody will have any reason to believe it; I’d be fooling myself.

It‘a natural for us to want to see ourselves in the most positive light, but it’s what we do that actually proves who we are.

What practically impacts your life more, what the people in your life believe or the actions they take?

It could be that your neighbor thinks stealing is wrong. This is of course something we’d all want our neighbors to believe. But what if this neighbor who believes stealing is wrong steals your barbecue pit anyway? From your perspective, what’s the difference between your neighbor that believes stealing is wrong but steals anyway vs a neighbor who feels no remorse from stealing yet claims to believe that they think it’s wrong? They might as well be one and the same from your perspective.

The main reason we place value on our neighbors belief that stealing is wrong to begin with is because it helps reassure us that they’re unlikely to steal from us or others. If they’re stealing anyway, then the belief has no real practical value.

Maybe what we think in our heart of hearts matters in some religions to God. For everyone else, it is your actions that make you who you are.