“We try to hide our feelings, but we forget that our eyes speak the truth.” Anonymous
We might wish to please others. We even might require ourselves to please others, because we fear that if we don’t, we will be alone, unwanted and unloved.
So, to make other people happy, we disappear ourselves by pretending to be someone whom we are not. Or, we might suppress our feelings and deepest needs for fear that we will be ridiculed, rejected or worse.
Let’s call this tendency to hide our real selves in relationships “self-abandonment”, for that’s surely what it is. We’ve given up on ourselves in return for someone else’s approval, acceptance and love. And we likely do that in more than one relationship. And so, we become multiple or serial self-abandoners.
But here’s the thing. We cannot do that forever, because somehow or some time we’ll pay the price and it will be a high one. That price could include:
♦ Experiencing a lack of real or perceived safety in our relationships
♦ Feeling unloved, unseen and unnurtured by those closest to us
♦ Experiencing a series of unsatisfying, even abusive relationships
♦ Suffering a negative impact on our health, both mental and physical.
In other words, self-abandoning equals pain, disappointment and loss.
Seeing the Source of Our Self-Abandonment Pattern
“Until you heal your past, your life patterns and relationships will continue to be the same. It’s just the faces that change.” Anonymous
This pattern in relationships doesn’t just happen. It has a starting point. It has a source and it will be beneficial for us to search for it.
A good place to begin the search is in our youngest years where, for example, we may have been subject to abusive, absent or inconsistent parenting. Or perhaps it stems from a later distressing experience that taught us that we were not safe in this world unless we were acceptable to others.
In summary, while we can’t change the past, we can bring this harmful pattern into consciousness, pinpoint its source and then identify the false beliefs that we’ve drawn from the source experience or experiences. For example, the false belief that we can only be safe or valued in a relationship if keep our deepest needs and wishes remain hidden or if we never express our emotions, especially our anger.
Discovering the Truth
“If you feel hurt by people, recognize that they are not hurting you because you are you, but because they are them.” Anonymous
It is so very important to see those past hurtful experiences for what they were – that how those particular people treated us had nothing to do with us or our value. That the behavior came about because the people dealing it out were flawed at best or badly intentioned at worst.
Put differently, the harmful behavior that we were exposed to said more about the perpetrators than it said about us. They had their own ghosts to deal with, but for whatever reason they were not evolved enough to recognize it and choose differently.
But that is not our problem. Our task is to awaken, to honestly see things as they are and to take responsibility, not for others’ actions toward us, but for our reactions and choices in the here and now.
We do this because we wish to be free of the pain of the past and because we desire a satisfying and love-filled life in the present and in the days and years to come.
Discovering Ourselves, Our Needs and Our Desires
“I am not afraid of my truth anymore and I will not omit pieces of me to make you comfortable.” Anonymous
So, the work for us now is to get to know ourselves, really know ourselves, and not just the negative stuff either.
We must come to know and appreciate our deepest truth which is this: that we are resplendent creatures of great inner beauty. That we have depths of goodness in us, and we are so, so worthy.
We also need to discover and acknowledge our needs and desires in life, love and relationships. Here I’m talking legitimate needs — authentic, natural, reasonable and rightful needs. These would include the need to belong, to be safe, to be respected and to be loved especially in our closest relationships.
I look at it this way. Fulfillment of our legitimate needs is a human right by virtue of the fact that we are living and breathing beings inhabiting this earth.
Dr. Rick Hanson talks about our intrinsic worthiness as our “enoughness. He says that “our sense of enoughness needs to land in the heart and take root” for change to occur.
But even if we can’t yet feel our deepest truth inside, can we not simply accept it as an article of faith?
In that way this article of faith becomes a key operating principle guiding our choices in life, love and relationships going forward.
Speaking Our Truth to Others
“Without communication, there is no relationship. Without respect, there is no love. Without trust, there’s no reason to continue.” Anonymous.
The challenge now becomes how we convey our truth, specifically our legitimate needs and desires, to important others.
We can know our truth. We can walk through the world “as though”. But there will come a time, especially in intimate relationships when we need to speak our truth to those who must hear it.
That will be the focus next month in Part II of Being True to Ourselves.