She said she just couldn’t be who she knew she was when she was with this certain group. It was hard to reveal her true heart, her silly personality or, gasp, even think about making a mistake because in that crowd . . . she just wasn’t safe.
As I listened around the kitchen island, where most of these kinds of chats take place, it became apparent this was yet another moment in which I would learn from my thirteen year old daughter.
I’ve experienced the same as of late.
When you spend time with people who aren’t your people – people who don’t recognize the greatness of you, or who listen to what others might say about you rather than formulate their own opinions or don’t care enough to invest in you unless you can offer them something, you tend to not act like your true self. Instead, the false self, the one who isn’t really who you are but often emerges when you’re with people who don’t love and accept you, can push-out that true self until you’re unrecognizable to those who know the true you.
This is why one person may say something positive about you while another may not – we aren’t always operating within our true self’s nature.
Recently, my husband and I discovered we had been spending time with a group that made us behave in ways that weren’t in alignment with our true selves. When we were with this group, it brought out the worst in us – not the best. Our false selves consistently won out and it took us a few years to figure it out.
When we did figure it out, it was a huge relief. THAT’S why I behaved that way. Or said that. Or did that.
Now listen, this doesn’t take responsibility off of me by any means. Don’t even get me started on how easily we try to blame other people for our problems. I’m in no way doing that. I own my false self behavior even when it’s the result of not being around my people. I’m still responsible for my choices and actions.
But it does make more sense as to why I could be one way with one group and seemingly completely different with another. I love when I learn the whys.
Yet the reality is, those who bring out our false selves are everywhere. So what do we do?
1. Recognize these are your false self people. This doesn’t mean you act condescending. It doesn’t mean you need to tell everyone you can’t be your true self in the presence of certain people who are there. Good grief, no. This just means you keep it surface, baby. Pretty front porch it, friends. This isn’t being fake. This is being wise.
2. Schedule time with those who you trust and bring-out your true self. When we get confused and our false-self emerges, it’s easy to get stuck in a web of lies that tells us we are certain things we are not. Those people who know the loveliness of our true selves will remind of us of the truth in who we are.
3. Remember the holding hands sculpture. My counselor has a sculpture of two hands held together, cup-like (see above). “Natalie, people have to earn the right to hold your heart. Only place your heart in the hands of those who will hold it like the precious thing it is. If they’re going to open those hands and carelessly drop it to the ground, then don’t entrust them with it in the first place.” Geesh. Enough said, Karen.
4. Limit your contact with them. It might be completely unavoidable but watch your calendar. If you know you are going to have to spend time with those who bring out your false selves, then don’t schedule more time later that week with the same kind of people.
5. Educate yourself on the rejection cycle. How do we typically respond when rejected? Take a look at the graphic below. If we feel rejected or unloved, then we may choose to allow those thoughts and feelings to control us. We then may react by rejecting others or trying too hard to please then so on, and so on, and so on. (Graphic below retrieved from http://overcomingabusegodsway.com/ministries/overcoming-abuse-gods-way-curriculum/
Getting out of this crazy cycle begins with acknowledging and allowing yourself to feel rejected or unloved because we all do at times. But the next step is critical. WE DO NOT CHOOSE TO GIVE THOSE THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS CONTROL OVER US. Bam. The cycle ends.
Easier said than done, right? But possible? Absolutely.
Bless them, say a little prayer for them, then move on. Oftentimes, people reject us more because of their own issues rather than ours. Don’t let someone else’s issues hold you hostage, friends.
Your true self is worth your protection. It’s worth the relinquishment of certain relationships so it can thrive. It’s worth tender, prioritized care. It’s worth hard conversations and it’s worth sticking up for.
And only give it to those who will hold it ever so tenderly and will never let it fall to the ground.