Our false self, the one we put on in front of the bathroom mirror each morning, runs all of us.
This is the nice person, great gal, good guy, handsome dude that you hope everyone you run into that day will buy. In front of the mirror, we see a petty, selfish, mean person who is out to get whatever he can. God help the rest of us!
We are all too smart to be open about this. By our 20’s and 30’s, we have become masters at putting on a good show, pleasing people, convincing everyone with any kind of stake in us that we are altogether reasonable and a good bet.
We don’t want to miss the next party because we were judged a nerd, a crank or a slob. We haven’t quite gotten over the teenage preoccupation with peer approval. We still want to be “cool.”
We actually have three separate selves, two of which we know all too well, and the third of which we barely have an inkling. First, we have a highly socialized self that we run as a mask, hiding our shadow self (second).
We keep on our mask most of the time, except for our closest friends and loved ones. This is how we fit in. This is the way we survived growing up.
What most of us can barely relate to is our divine self (third), underneath our repressed shadow self.
We are so preoccupied with our animal impulses of fear, desire and aggression that we rarely see beneath them. We have gone through a couple of decades of schooling, and often have a very polished vocabulary. We developed an expertise in one subject or another and befriended technology at an early age.
Our divine self just is.
It allows whatever happens to happen. It sees all of this as its creation, and it is content just to play. It loves its creation unconditionally. It is pure love. For perpetual amusement, it has individualized as each of us on a grand stage to take a role in the theatre of life and get all caught up in the drama.
We don’t always keep tabs on the toll on us our false self takes. We like to believe that our act brings us love, acceptance and appreciation.
We like to believe that we can manufacture endless social capital by playing polite games, listening well, complimenting others and being highly considerate.
We don’t often realize that people want more from us. At a certain point, they sense we are running a highly refined act. It may be a likable act, but still an act.
One needs only think of Hillary Clinton in the recent Presidential election. Hillary had all the qualifications and postured very well. Her opponent, Donald Trump, was abundantly willing to play the bad guy and appear, mean, selfish and illiberal. Why, then, did Hillary alienate so many people in the very states she needed to secure her victory?
People wanted to see what was underneath Hillary’s ingenuous smile and carefully crafted words. They wanted to see her lose her temper, be uncool, be real… if only for a moment. Too many voters didn’t know what they would actually get when they voted for Hillary; so they chose someone else.
We can all fall into this trap.
We want people to buy us, and we often try too hard. It is as if we live in Hollywood 365 days per year. We are always on, always up. We are waiting for our next curtain call. We might even be affluent, and run with a chic crowd.
Yet somehow in all of it, we fail to get what we really want… true love.
Each of us came up from total helplessness in this very persistent dream we call life. Somehow we forgot after the first several years who we really are.
Someone helped us with our first breath, our first sip of milk. We learned to squirm and cry. Eventually to crawl, and finally, triumph of triumphs, to stand up and walk without falling down the first few seconds.
At three or four, we were filled with wonder, with boundless energy. Everything had a magical quality, and to play was the most natural thing in the world.
We said what we thought with the few words we knew, unfiltered, and unmediated. We were very direct and to the point. When we were naughty, we were totally OK about it.
As we grew older, we became “civilized.” School helped a lot. Most of us got spanked a bit. Some of us got beaten up by the other kids, and we finally learned to play the game.
We learned first to play the game with adults at home and at school. We got very good at responding to our name. As time went on, our name became very real, and we began to take on a persona.
By our teenage years, it was somehow important to break away from our parents. We weren’t quite children anymore, but what were we? Our peers helped us make sense of this strange world.
We learned to be cool. Some of us became very good at it, and became leaders. Some of us didn’t take the game so seriously, and wound up nerds, and some of the nerds, men like Bill Gates, became super rich.
When we refuse to deal with our shadow, when we continue to press it down, we become unmanageable, even neurotic. No one wants an act 24 hours a day.
When you express your true feelings to your loved ones, you might do so in an immature way, because you have been so guarded throughout your life.
When you really get into your shadow, your feelings of fear and anger, anxiety and frustration, you can experience them as emotions without attaching a cause to them. I am angry because I am angry. I am just afraid.
Don’t deny the feeling… don’t try to escape it. Consciously surrender and feel it through. When you just feel the raw negative emotion, very often it disappears and dissolves into a positive emotion.
You start to let out some of the steam, just dial it down a bit. Your friends and family want to experience all of you, not just the nice guy.
The more you open up to them, the closer they can get to you. We all have a shadow. Every single one of us. We all experience fear, desire and pain. When we realize it is not weird to experience these, we begin to relax and become available to others.
Related article: Can Spirituality Enhance Your Life Experience?
Jungian psychology is all about assimilating your shadow, owning the ugly parts of yourself, accepting them for what they are and then moving on. You can be mean, petty and selfish. You can even be afraid or angry for no obvious reason. It doesn’t matter. You feel what you feel.
As you let go and open up, you will increasingly encounter a type of love previously unimaginable to you. You will find that you love everyone around you effortlessly. When people run into you, they run into your love.
This love can be very intense and powerful. It is transformative in its very nature. It is coming from deep within you, from the very nucleus of your being. It was there all the time. It is just that you were not in touch with it.
If I showed my true self, would you still accept me? Absolutely!
The more you open up in a vulnerable way, the more I can love you as you are. You put me in touch with the vulnerable side of me. Since you are not lashing out at me, I identify with you and come to your side.
However, keep in mind, that self-acceptance always comes first!
Why don’t you take a little risk today with someone you trust, and tell one on yourself? May it will just be a selfish thought or wish that bends your halo a bit. You may find this to be a lot more fun than you ever imagined!