We long to belong.
Being validated by and belonging to a human group has been recognized as an essential need in all human beings.
We crave appreciation. Acceptance and valuation in the eyes of others.
It is a very deep need. Fulfillment of which is a vital factor for harmonious development.
Because of this crucial importance, we are also scared of rejection, and disapproval.
The pain of being blamed, judged, disavowed, is too much to bear and we don’t want to risk it though we are always quick to criticize ourselves harshly. As a result, the closer we are to someone, the higher the stakes, and the bigger the temptation to hide and fake.
But humans are emotional beings and emotions are best lived when we can share them…
So here we are, wanting to get close, but closeness is risky business. Unsettling. Dangerous.
We might lose credentials in someone’s eyes, just by daring being who we are.
Since day one, as babes, we try to please, and we try to be safe: we catch every nuance of voice, every look, every contact is an indicator. We did good or not, we are approved of or not, we will be safe… or not.
And day after day we start learning to lie, to hide, to wear masks, to please and fit in and to be acceptable for those around us, to whom we own safety and survival.
This is a strong survival tool, deeply rooted instinct, that keeps on going far into adulthood.
As a matter of fact, in the dark ages being ostracized meant death; out of the tribe chances of survival were very slim. Hence being kept inside the group was vital. Literally so.
If you don’t see me you can’t hurt me.
In today’s culture, and for most people, it is still more important to maintain appearances than to dare being fully oneself in the open.
Not that we have monstrous flaws.
No. We hide what could make us vulnerable.
Not wearing a mask, not pretending, is taking the risk to expose our soft underbelly, to be easy to hurt.
To keep appearances might be a good protection mechanism but it has a major caveat : what I feel the need to hide is always related to what makes me truly happy, what animates me, what fuels my bliss.
Inside my safe shell, I end up smothering my true self, stifling what ever passionate elan that could give me away.
Wanting to be safe makes me repress my unique aliveness and refrain from beaming my inner light into the world.
Safe but unfulfilled
When we avoid being vulnerable, particularly with people who dearly matter to us, we hinder true connection.
If I dare not being seen (as the only me there is and will always be), how could I be recognized and appreciated by my soul mate for instance? Or my soul tribe.
If I spend my time toning down and dwarfing the specifics that come with being me, I take the wind out of my own sails. One can’t fly one’s true colors while camouflaging in prudent beige.
The bottom line is that if I want to experience the whole gamut of human connection, of love, of intimacy, of friendship, of parenting or any other deep relation, I have to quiet the old lizard brain and take the reins with the most evolved part of me, the growing edge of myself, always curious, always discovering, always eager for beingness…
If I want to live fully and be fulfilled I have to take a leap of faith, drop pretenses and make room for authenticity.
Be visible. Seeable. Vulnerable.
Then and only then, can I thrive and share, pulling all the stops, fearlessly splashing in joyful puddles of unseen depth, and meet you there, to play and explore and exist, as we were born to do.
Scary? You bet!
But NOT doing this means a life of half lived relationships, half success, and often lukewarm happiness or worse, emotional unrest.
Half way or full out ?
I believe that Life is prodigious, miraculous, unfathomable and exquisite if we let it have its way we us.
Being scared every now and then is natural and part of the game, but to honor this life of ours, to get all the juice out of it before we check out of this bodily experience, we need to give ourselves permission to be who we are both in all our un-replicable individuality, and our universal humanness.
We need to marvel at our odds and be awed by every breath.
We need to cherish every quirk, every weakness and every strength that is part of our unique DNA and embrace who we came to be.
By doing this we reclaim enormous amounts of energy we used to waste on smoke screens and persona and we become able to offer the same openness to everyone around us and not feel threatened by differences. We let go of an exhausting need for control.
Best of all, we can lean in what made us feel vulnerable, and be loved and appreciated for it!
Because that exact thing that we don’t want to show, share or reveal, is usually directly linked to our ability to thrive.
To your brave unique self.