It could be said that in order for someone to grow and to develop, they will need to feel comfortable with being vulnerable. The reason for this is that if someone has the need to protect themselves, they are not going to open themselves up to life.
Their main priority will be to do everything they can to keep everything the same and therefore, it will be vital to keep anything that is new or different at bay. But, while living in this way will allow them to feel comfortable, it will also set them up to live in a prison without bars.
A Predictable Existence
Their need to survive will overshadow the rest of their needs, causing them to neglect a number of their needs. Someone like this could look back on their life and see that their life rarely changes.
There is then not going to be a fixed path in front of them, yet they will continue to walk in the same direction, so to speak. Living in this way is likely to mean that they will be used to feeling angry and powerless, but that doesn’t mean that they will be able to see what part they are playing in all this.
When it comes to the people in their life, they are likely to only allow these people to get so close. Thus, they are only going to share certain parts of themselves - the parts that won’t involve risk or emotional expression.
Or, if they do express their emotions, they might only show the emotions that won’t cause them to feel exposed. So, anger, rage and frustration might be fine but, shame, guilt or sadness, for instance, will probably be off-limits.
A Lack of Intimacy
Keeping people at a distance is going to stop them from being to have relationships that are fulfilling. Their mind and even their body will be involved, but their heart is generally going to be overlooked.
Ergo, if they are with another person, it is most likely to be a very surface level relationship. The kind of connection that they with this person might be very similar to the type of relationship someone can have with a pair of old shoes – they will have grown attached to them, but they won’t do a lot for their feet.
There is always the chance that someone like this won’t have any friends or be in a relationship, only spending time around people when they are at work, for example. However, regardless of whether or not they have people in their life, they are not going to reveal their true-self to anyone.
This is going to be something that would be too much of a risk, as it would be seen as something that would give other people the chance to harm them. Covering up who they are and playing a role won’t be fulfilling, but it will keep them safe.
What is clear is that when someone experiences life in this way, they are not going to have a very positive view of most people and the world in general. It may be as if most people want to humiliate them and to do what they can to keep them down.
The best way for them to handle this will be to keep their guard up at all times and to do everything they can to make sure they don’t show weakness. In the same way that a rabbit that shows weakness will soon end up being eaten by another animal in the wild; showing weakness will be seen as something that will cause them to be torn apart by other human beings.
A Cold World
If they were to come across someone who is kind, compassionate and has the ability to empathise with others, they might wonder what is going on. This kind of person is going to go against the inner model that they have for people.
In their mind, most people will be seen as lacking the ability to empathise and to be compassionate to others. Through believing that most people are like this, it is not going to be much of a surprise for them to do everything they can to make sure that they don’t come across as vulnerable.
A Closer Look
Now, it would be easy to say that not everyone is like this and that they just need to change what they believe. Another approach would be to look into why they have ended up this way before any suggestions are put forward in regards what they can do to change their life.
There is a strong chance that they grew up in an environment where it wasn’t safe for them to be vulnerable. Their mother and/or father may have been very abusive, making it clear that it wasn’t safe for them to reveal certain parts of themselves.
Along with physically and/or emotionally abusing them, for instance, they may have been unresponsive to their suffering. In fact, they may have even seen it as a bit of a joke and not something that required their empathy and compassion.
Perhaps one or both of their parents lacked the ability to empathise, making it impossible for them to receive the love that they desperately needed at this stage of their life. After being treated in this way for a few years, they would have soon got the message that it wasn’t safe enough for them to exist.
These early experiences would have caused them to experience a lot of trauma, trauma that is still going to be in their body. In addition to the fear and the anxiety that they carry, there will most likely lot of shame.
Being treated in this way will have caused then to believe that there was something inherently wrong with them. With this in mind, hiding their true-self will not only be a way to stop people from harming them, it will also be way to make sure that people don’t realise how flawed they are.
If they were to find out, it will be seen as something that would cause them to be rejected and then abandoned. The outcome of this can be that one will believe that their life would end up coming to an end.
It is going to be essential for someone to reach out for support if they can relate to this, and this is something that can be provided by a therapist or a healer. Ultimately, there is nothing inherently wrong with them, but they will probably only realise this after they have started to work through the layers of trauma that are within them.
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Oliver JR 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.