There is often said to be a false self and a true self, and if one is into psychology or self-development, they’re likely to have heard about these terms. If one hasn’t, they might sound a bit mysterious and something that one can’t relate to.
But if these descriptions are put to one side and one is able to see what they relate to, one will soon realise that there is nothing mysterious about them. In fact, some people are going to be in a position where they have always lived from their true self, and then there are going to be people whose life has always been an expression of their false self.
Just as there are going to be people who are able to express their true self during certain times and at other times, are unable to express their true self. So not everyone on this planet is going to be connected to their true self and not everyone is going to be disconnected from it either.
What Is It?
When one is in touch with who they are, it is going to mean that they are connected to their true self. Therefore, it is ones true needs, wants and feelings that make up their true self.
The word true is used because it is easy for one to get caught up in feelings that don’t belong to them or to deny how they feel. And one can also deny their true needs an wants and end up fulfilling the needs and wants of others.
When one is in touch with their true needs, wants and feelings, this could be the only thing they have known and it is therefore, normal. And when one is out of touch with their true needs, wants and feelings, this could be the only thing they have known and this is then a normal part of their life.
It is going to be a lot harder for one to live a life that is fulfilling when they’re out of touch with themselves. This might mean that this pain is softened through receiving the approval of others, but it won’t be the same as if one was living their truth.
What This Can Mean
So if one is living their truth and they’re not aware of the fact that life can be different, it is not necessarily going to harm their life. However, if one is not living their truth and they’re not aware of the fact that life can be different, then they’re going to suffer.
Until one is able to take in new information and to realise that life can be different, they’re going to be going round in circles. Their pain won’t end and their life might only end up getting worse.
What happens during ones formative years is usually what defines whether one is in touch with their true self or if they’re living on the surface of themselves and pleasing other people. For one will need to believe that it is safe for them to listen to their needs, wants and feelings, if they don’t, they are likely to disconnect from them. So if ones caregivers allowed them to have needs and to express their feelings, they’re likely to believe that it is safe for them to have them.
If, on the other hand, one had to meet their caregiver’s needs and to deny their needs and feelings, then they might only feel safe if they ignore their needs and feelings. This is not to say that one is aware of this, as this can all take place unconsciously and out of their awareness.
If ones needs and wants were not met and their feelings were denied or dismissed, one could have ended up feeling ashamed of their needs, wants and feelings. And as having feelings and needs is part of being human, one wouldn’t have just felt bad, they would have end up believing they were bad.
This feeling of being inherently bad could have been compounded by other experiences that one had to put up with during these early years. Here, one may have also experienced physical, sexual, verbal and/or emotional abuse.
So ones experience of shame is then not something that comes and goes, it has become their identity. They don’t just feel bad from time to time, they are bad. There is healthy shame, and this allows one to have a conscience amongst others things, and then there is toxic shame, and this has no benefit to one’s life.
The only thing is does is cause one to feel as though they are inherently flawed and that there is nothing they can do to change how they see themselves. They are less-than human and it doesn’t just relate to their feelings, thoughts or beliefs, it relates who their whole being.
What Can Then Happen
If one was made to feel this way, it is generally going to be something they want to cover up and to hide. For when one is ashamed of who they are, the last thing they want to do is to let other people know how they see themselves.
So in one way or another, how one sees themselves and how other people see them, is going to relate to their toxic shame. Their whole being has been infiltrated and it is not possible for their true self to see the light of day.
One can then end up coming across as though they don’t value themselves and being someone who allows people to walk all over them, or they could come across as though other people are below them and they could be the ones who walk all over others.
It can turn someone into a workaholic and/or a perfectionist, and this allows them to keep how they feel at bay. But it doesn’t matter what one achieves or how much they work, as what’s taking place on the inside is still the same. It is then not possible for one to just be, they have to constantly do something; this is because their value is based on what they do and not who they are.
So if ones true self is being covered up by toxic shame, it will be important for them to process the emotional experiences of the past that have remained within them. As well as toxic shame, there can also be: grief, abandonment, helplessness and hopelessness. The assistance of a therapist or a healer may be needed here.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.