What this shows is that it can all depend on how one feels in their own company, and how they feel in the company of the people they are with. The ideal with be for one to be able to be by themselves and around others without feeling as though they are cut-off.
An Important Need
Human beings are interdependent, and this means that they need others. For instance, one’s sense of self it not something that exits in isolation; it only exists through the mirroring that other people give them.
If they no longer receive this external feedback, their sense of self would begin to disappear, and they would probably end up going mad. This doesn’t mean that one needs to be around others all the time; it means that they will need to spend time with them.
But if one is unable to be themselves, and they end up wearing ‘a mask’, it is not going to be possible for them to feel connected to others. And it won’t matter if they are around people who encourage them to play a role or not.
In this case, they might find that it is only possible for them to be ‘real’ when they are by themselves. Yet, as they are unable to be real around others, they are not going to able to receive what they need from them.
If they were able to receive the support that they need when they are around others, there will be less chance of them feeling lonely. This is because their needs will be met by others, and they won’t be in a position where they have to hide their true self.
When their true self goes into hiding around others, the people they spend their time with are going to meet the needs of their false self. As a result of this, it won’t matter how long they spend around others; as they are still going to feel lonely.
Someone could be an extravert or they could be an introvert, but it won’t matter. How many friends someone has or how often they go out might have no effect whosoever on how connected they feel to others.
If someone is unable to reveal their true feelings and needs, it is not going to be possible for them to feel connected to others. Being around others might remove some of the pain they feel through feeling cut-off, but it won’t do much else.
For example, if one was to take part in some kind of exercise in order experience inner peace, they might feel more at ease once they have finished, but it won’t be long until they feel the same. This shows that it is not that they are experiencing peace; it is just that they have regulating how they feel for a short time.
And although one will feel slightly better through being around others, they are still going to be in a position where their true self is not being seen. The pain that is removed through being around others is then supplanted by the pain that is created through having to hide around them.
So as It is then not possible for them to be themselves, they could end up feeling as though there is nowhere for them to turn. It might not matter how big their family is, how many friends they have, or whether they are in a relationship.
On one side they desperately want other people to acknowledge their true self, but on the other side, it is not something they feel comfortable with. What this shows is that although they are experiencing pain thorough hiding, they believe that it would more painful to reveal themselves.
This is not necessarily something they think about at a conscious level, but it is going to the outlook that defines their behaviour. There are going to be people who don’t feel the need to wear ‘a mask’, and this could be how their life has always been.
If they were to open up, and to share what is taking place with another person, they might be met with confusion. The other person might wonder why they feel the need to hide themselves, and this could cause them to question why they have this outlook.
As they begin to get in touch with how they feel, they may feel as though they wouldn’t be accepted if they were to reveal their feelings and needs. And as their true self is not acceptable, it is only possible for them to survive through having a false self.
One is not going to believe that they have a right to exist, and that they are a valuable human being; they are going to feel as though they are worthless. Other people will be seen as having something they don’t have, and this is because they feel as though they are inherently flawed.
What this shows is that one is carrying toxic shame, and unlike healthy shame, this it has no purpose. And as one feels as though there is something inherently wrong with them, it is going to be normal for them to hide themselves.
Their whole being will have been infiltrated, and it this will have caused them to be disconnected from their inherent worth. However, although one may have become accustomed to living in this way, there is a reason why this is how they experience life.
There is the chance that their childhood was less-than nurturing, and this would have meant their needs were rarely, if ever, met. Instead, they may have abused and/or neglected.
During these early years, it wouldn’t have been possible for them to realise that there was nothing wrong with them. How they were treated would have been seen as a reflection of their worth, and not a reflection of their caregivers own issues.
In order for one to feel connected to others, and to no longer hide their true self, it will be important for them to let go off their toxic shame. On one side, this will involve facing how they feel, and on the other, it will be important for their inherent worth to be affirmed.
This is something that can take place with the assistance of a therapist, supportive friend and/or a support group. Through facing their toxic shame until the charge begins to discharge, and receiving the positive regard that they didn’t receive during their early years, it will be possible for them to gradually let go of the their shame-based identity. It may also be important for them to grieve their unmet childhood needs.
Oliver JR Cooper