Our False Selves Masquerade As The Real Deal
Written By: Mark Smith
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Who do want for people to think that you are? Halloween is coming up, what mask are you planning to wear? Would you be ashamed if everyone you know fully knew everything about you? Would there be some scandalous revelations?
Personally, I sort of like for people to see me as intelligent, successful, in charge, wise, a good writer and emotionally healthy. Historically I have spent a lot of time and energy trying to portray that image. The truth is that it takes too much energy to maintain that image. Generally we don't want people knowing who we are at our cores. We don't want anyone to know that we are weak, depressed, insecure, struggling in our marriage, anxious, not in control, addictive, unhealthy or otherwise screwed up. Certainly no one out there is any of those things? If we have a big house, an impressive car, well behaved children, a high paying job and an attractive spouse then we have it all and no one can say otherwise. One of my favorite authors, Richard Ford, wrote in his classic book 'The Sportswriter' that "Sometimes we do not really become adults until we suffer a good whacking loss." Have you ever experienced a good whacking loss? It is shocking to the system when it happens to you. It is like being run over by a bus that you didn't see coming. It crumbles the mighty walls that you have erected your whole life to hide your fragile and defective inner self. Everyone around you is then also shocked when the truth about you or your marriage finally it the light of day. If you haven't had a good whacking loss yet in your life it is coming. Trust me, it s coming for you. It will expose you ultimately for who you really are...a good but damaged soul who has a great deal of dysfunctions and flaws. Right?
Let's take our masks off and stop trying to impress anyone. Let's embrace our weaknesses as strengths. Let's share our fragile inner selves without shame in our communities and families. If we come out of the denial closet then perhaps others will feel more comfortable being genuine and vulnerable and real. That is the first comment that people usually share after an initial group therapy session - "it is great to know that I'm not the only one who feels this way or who is going through it stuff". What a relief. Okay, I'm come clean with the truth about me first. The first one is easy. I'm pretty sure that few will be surprised that in all truth I'm really not very intelligent at all. Not a shocker there. Not also not terribly successful. What tiny bit of notoriety I have achieved is mainly a result of smoke a mirrors. Being 'in charge' - that is a tough one to give up. Nobody wants to admit to not being in control. God is in control and He rarely consults me about how I want for things to be done these days. Any wisdom I have has been gained from all the mistakes and wrong turns that I have made. It is sort of an accidental wisdom. I try to put heart in my writing but I know little about the craft of good writing. I just hope that somebody is touched somewhere. Emotionally healthy...forget about it! Don't ever go to a therapist who proclaims themselves to be emotionally healthy. That person is dangerous. It is all about where you start from and unfortunately I spring from a very dysfunctional bunch. You probably did too my friend. A lot of the time life is a real struggle for me. I have more questions than answers. I spend a lot of time wrestling around in the muck and the mire. I am very human.
Now it is your turn. Who are you really? Do you spend a lot of energy and time trying to portray a positive, acceptable and impressive image? The bigger they are the harder they fall. Would your neighbors and your in-laws be shocked at the actual state of your marriage? What do you fear? Are you tired? I mean bone weary exhaustion? Do you ever dream of just packing up and running away? Do you have a secret addiction? It will come to light some day. Life is messy and it is complicated. Start talking.
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Mark E. Smith, LCSW
Family Tree Counseling Associates
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Mark Smith, LCSW founded Family Tree Counseling Associates in Carmel in 1989. He holds a Master's Degree In Clinical Social Work from Michigan State University. You can also learn more by listening to his dynamic free 24-hour recorded TeleWorkshops at 524-1650, by visiting his website at familytreecounseling.com, by calling 844-2442 or e-mailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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