On the Truth of Belonging and Being Courageous Enough.
When I see someone acting inauthentically, I feel a deep discomfort. But the discomfort is not about the other, it’s about me.
When I sense someone acting inauthentically, it’s because through them, I am able to recognize all of the times in my life that I have felt unable to be me. It reminds me of all the times that I have been too scared or unwilling to be completely and truly with myself, and as myself. It reminds me of all the times I have betrayed and abandoned myself, disregarding my own being and truths.
It brings me back to all of the times that I’ve felt the need to perform, to put on a show, to act in a way that subtly manipulates the situation around me. It reminds me of all of the times that I’ve felt powerless to say what I really think, or do what I really believe, for fear of being perceived as less than, for fear of being rejected for being me.
It reminds me of how I am still learning to be truthful in myself when I am around others who I think won’t necessarily understand me.
When I observe inauthenticity in another, it reminds me not only of my own reticence towards being myself in certain circumstances, but of how hard it is for any of us to exist in this world as ourselves.
It reminds me of how many of our actions are transactional. How we are constantly playing roles. Roles that then become our lives.
The truth is though, we are not playing these roles to necessarily appease others, even though we think we are. We are playing these roles to appease ourselves. We are playing these roles because we have been taught that it is not safe to be ourselves. We are playing these roles because we have a primitive need for belonging and acceptance, for safety and support.
We will act differently, hide our truths, and stay hidden under falsities and performance, in order to feed the part of us that fears rejection and abandonment.
This is why we create this false mask, this ego, this way of being that is made up of all the stories and affirmations we’ve collected along the way that have told us what we need to do to make sure we are accepted.
Sometimes, we even create a mask that is the opposite of how we think we should be — a rebellion against acceptance. This allows us to pre-empt our rejection, to swing so far the other way that of course no one will accept us like this. But this type of mask, no matter how counter-intuitive it may seem, still serves as our protective layer against the risk of being who we truly are.
Because imagine if we were just ourselves?
Being rejected, purely for being ourselves, is the most terrifying thing of all. We can observe this in the way we build our false selves up and then spend our lives trying to protect them. We become insulted, indignant, hurt and angry when someone doesn’t view us in the way that we would like to be perceived. We spend time defending and building up our false selves.
We hide behind opinions and knowledge and jobs and possessions and others, accumulating a self that may have very little to do with our authentic truths. There is nothing inherently wrong with relating to and engaging with any of these things, but when we use them as a shield to protect us from the tender truths of our heart, we are unable to relax into ourselves. We are unable to be at home in our own selves.
Instead, we focus on tightly controlling all of these things and people and ways of being that are transient and ultimately, out of our finite control.
It is here that we lose our potential for presence, for authenticity, for true connection.
When we don’t feel safe to unencumber ourselves of the falsities that we feel we must carry, we are unable to bask in the true beauty of beingness that comes from existing in our own entirety. We are unable to truly give ourselves to the other, because we are concerned about what this might look like. We are worried about how we will be perceived and how we will be received.
We are worried, so we cling on tightly to our masks and to the things and people that help us bolster this projection that we have created for ourselves.
We worry that if we just sink into our realness — just us, as we are — we may not be exciting enough, funny enough, clever enough, knowledgeable enough, special enough, impressive enough, worthy enough. We wonder what will happen if we drop everything that is not true. Will what remain be enough?
When we feel ready to start dropping the things that are keeping us imprisoned within ourselves, we go through a stage where we seem to be without anything. It is as though we’ve taken off the clothes we were wearing, but we have not yet found our new outfit. We seek desperately to try to cover the void that we have uncovered, with something else.
But what if we don’t need a new outfit? I wonder, can we just be ourselves, as we are? What if we can be okay with the us that existed before we adorned ourselves with all of these things that we thought we needed to be, do and have? What if we realized that being accepted only for what is false is not true acceptance at all?
What if we were to consistently tap into that deeply powerful part of ourselves that can hold us through these discoveries, through this shedding of our skins? That place within us that remains still and exactly as it is, no matter how many masks we wear or pretenses we put on?
This does not mean that we walk around in a void of nothingness, rather we act in accordance from a place of naturalness. We express in ways that are no longer heavy with expectation, judgment or skirting around the truth. We act from a place of expressing purely for the beauty and giving that is inherent in connecting with another and the world.
We are in the moment and enjoying it for what it is, which means bearing witness to ourselves as the experience unfolds, rather than forcing an outcome, seeking to be validated or expecting to gain something that we were too scared to ask for honestly.
We have reverence for the part of us that doesn’t need to diminish or dilute our expression just to gain acceptance and approval, and we give others the respect to allow them to do the same. We also take away the negative presumption that we often project on to others: They wouldn’t understand me, I can’t be myself around them.
Because after all, how do we know how someone will respond to our true selves unless we are courageous enough to actually reveal it to them?
I think it’s impossible to always act from a place of pure authenticity. But in witnessing the ways we so often step out of our truth, we can begin to observe how it feels. We notice that the more we step away from ourselves, the more forced and hard life feels. We feel disconnected, jealous, unworthy, pressured or anxious. Whereas the less we feel the need to play a part, the more connected, alive and loved we feel.
And it’s in this space — in this void, between the mask and the realness, while we wait for the discomfort to settle — that we have the opportunity to start returning home to ourselves.
It is when we seek to connect with this inherently truthful and deeply anchored part of ourselves that we can tap into a true sense of belonging, acceptance and unconditionality. And this is what can sustain us more deeply than anything our false selves could ever offer, because it is who we truly are.
Belinda Marie is a writer, creative and energy healer who creates healing tools and courses for empaths, creatives and deep-feeling, intuitive souls who want to reclaim their authentic self. She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her dog Greg, and can be found at Soul & Self.