Recently, I had the opportunity to work with someone with high social anxiety and very low self-esteem. Full of so much self-disgust, he hid his true self from everyone he came into contact with, for reason’s not even he understood. He often found himself lying to others in order to appear more desirable or amicable to them. It was not as though he thought of it as not being truthful, he simply wanted to be agreeable and attractive, therefore making statements or comments that were contrary to how he truly felt. When life and relationships became overwhelming or he could not hold to the untruth’s any longer, he would bail and isolate himself.
I observed this and worked with him through a mindfulness lens, using non-judgement and compassion as our framework. As we neared the end of our work together, he began to see how not being truthful, even when it was not with the intention of hurting someone else, was harmful to both parties involved.
When we are able to be more honest about who we are, the more room we make for natural and positive connections with others.
As he began the journey of attempting to be honest in the world and slowly show parts of his true self to others, he was surprised when these interactions were not met with the rejection he felt was surely going to take place. As if, once people knew the truth about him, they would no longer want to be in connection with him. It is important to note, I did not see him the way he saw himself, as I found him to be enjoyable to interact with. I was not at all surprised when he began to recognize being himself was receiving a positive response.
I feel as though this is applicable for so many people, as I can remember times when I felt this way as well. Being honest, truthful and showing up as we are is the greatest gift we can give ourselves. It is also the greatest gift we can give to others. It feels as though there is this universal impression out there, that we need to change ourselves or appear to be something(s) we’re not, so other people will want to be in relationship with us. This way of being in the world complicates our situation and in truth makes relationships more difficult than they need be. It is also the very reason they often fail.
There is so much power in being able to tell our truth, even if it is rejected at first. It opens the door for intimacy on a deeper level. It can be satisfying even when it is terrifying! It guarantees other people in your life are getting to see the real you and will be more clearly able to respond during interactions. It also can assist in deciphering who not to be in relationship with; a guide in a way which could potentially save a lot of heartache and time, even if it feels hurtful at the time.
How are you showing up in the world? Are you a truth teller or a soothe sayer? No judgment either way, but I hope you can bring a gentle curiosity to the idea.
Wishing you well.