It was brought to my attention once again this week that we often use Facebook to project to the world an image of ourselves that we think will be admired and affirmed. Unfortunately it is not always a very accurate portrayal of our lives. At times I see individuals post how wonderful their lives and relationships are, with all the accompanying photos and then see them a day later weeping about the difficulty of their lives. Social media has created the illusion of the life that people want to be living, not what is true and real. In the words of Donald Trump, it is Fake News.
This brings me back to the question that often surfaces in my office or in my programs; how do you want to be seen, or as I asked someone this week, why do we choose not to be real?
Ultimately, we choose not to be real because we are convinced that people will not like the real me. They will judge me as not being good enough and will reject and abandon me. So, it is easier to project the person we think people will like. I calls these personas Imposters or posers. They represent the pretend me that seeks acceptance and approval through pretense and posturing.
What I have discovered running programs that are built around the values of honesty and vulnerability is how untrue that fear of judgment actually is. On the contrary, what I have discovered is that the more people are willing to be honest, the more they are embraced for being real. On the whole, it is empathy, not judgment that people experience when they are willing to expose the real true self.
Unfortunately, knowing that honesty and vulnerability leads to empathy is not always enough for people to choose that honesty and vulnerability. There is a deeper issue at stake here. The heart of the problem here is not about how others see me, but how I see me. My fear of judgment, rejection and abandonment come from the judgments I have of myself. So, the trick to being more real and authentic requires me to deal with my negative beliefs and judgments of self.
I could say a lot of different things in regards to addressing these judgments; however, here is something that I reflect on when I get stuck in a self judgment.
A Truth Plan
I have a little personal plan that helps me to strip down judgments of myself and the phony, posturing and pretend me they create. I call this my truth plan. I want to ask myself, is what I believe about me true. I want to look at the evidence that supports that truth and ultimately the evidence that does not support it. Once I can clearly see that the evidence does not support it, I can let it go.
Here’s a belief I had for a very long time. I am not smart, or I’m stupid. When I was in high school I failed on average three courses a year from grade ten through grade twelve. I had good friends around me that I played sports with that were excellent students. They often received A’s while I was a C to F kind of student. So; I was convinced that I was nothing but a dumb jock who needed to find my sense of value from playing sports, not excelling at academics. I thought my only chance to go to university was to become a PE teacher and coach high school sports.
The Posturing Behavior: Prove to the world that I am smart.
I never did end up going to school to be a PE teacher. I actually ended up going to Bible College and became a Pastor. Because I still had a stupid belief going on I would consistently over research and prepare for presentations and sermons. I would usually inundate any presentation with too much information. I have not written a book as of yet because I believed that it had to be a credible, scholarly work. I went to Regent College to get my Masters of Divinity Degree, rubbing shoulders with many of the PHD candidates that were using Regent as a stepping stone to further education. I would make my best effort to keep up with the very deep academic conversation they were having, but for the most part, I found them quite boring.
What I discovered in my pursuit of academic credibility, was an insight into the intelligence I did possess. Mental intelligence (IQ) is not a great strength for me; however, emotional intelligence (EQ) definitely is. Don’t get me wrong, I have some left brain abilities to logically address challenges; however, my real strength comes from my right brain intuition and creativity. I discovered that my presentations became much more about my story telling and my interaction with people than my content.
The Action Plan:
Once I gained some clarity about the intelligence I possessed, it was important to act on it. The biggest step I took in this regard was to leave the ministry and create personal development workshops. These workshops have become the best use of my intelligence.
I also like to challenge myself to do some of the things that I felt I used to expose my belief that I am not smart. Writing is one of those things. I have chosen to write blog articles weekly as a means to express both my left and right brain capabilities. And yes, I am also looking to take what I have written weekly for the past year and a half and create a book as well.
What is the belief and self judgment that is holding you back from being more of your true authentic self? I encourage you use my Truth Plan to work through your issue.