I was recently working with a coaching client of mine who expressed to me that she has been hiding her whole life behind a mask of "everything is ok," and "happy-go-lucky." I was blown away by her awareness of this, because the truth is, most of us ARE hiding, but don't really know it. I resonated very deeply with her on every level.
I have hidden a lot in my life.
Behind being a "good" girl.
Behind a Fake Smile.
And you know what I learned?
All this hiding just brought me a tremendous amount of suffering. I felt so lost in my life. I felt disconnected. I felt alone. Hiding sucked, but I didn't even know where to start, or how to change it.
In fact, I wasn't even fully aware of it, but I had a constant nagging feeling of dissatisfaction in my life. A constant feeling of struggle. A feeling like something was always "off."
Do you feel me?
There are many ways we hide. Thinking we have things under control is one of the big ones. Perfectionism is another. The truth is, all of this hiding is really a protection mechanism; a way we keep people from seeing the real us. When I asked my client what would happen if people really knew the truth about her, she burst into tears. She couldn't even fathom that anyone would like her if they saw her not-so-nice side, or if she really spoke her mind, or if she asked for what she wanted.
I mostly find this epidemic among women, but there are plenty of men out there who feel it too. Men don't seem to be as afraid to show themselves, they are naturally more assertive and usually have no trouble asking for what they want. Maybe there is a reason why women still only get paid 70 cents compared to a man's dollar in the working world. Is it because we are afraid of others seeing our "bitchy" side and of not being liked? Could be, but I think it goes deeper.
Look, we all come into the world the same way. We are born as a little bundle of pure love. We have no language, no belief systems in place and no awareness of our ego. As we grow and learn, all kinds of things are projected on to us from the outside world and those in our life. If you had loving, nurturing, caring parents, it's very likely you don't have to hide because you feel completely ok with who you are, and you are proud of showing it.
For those of us who struggled in this department, we may have received a lot of messages of not being lovable, worthy or good enough through our parents behavior and lack of connection. These messages are programmed as a belief system during the ages of 0-9, as we create our core memories, and we take those systems with us into adulthood without any awareness that they are running under the surface. But, we know something is off. We keep experiencing the same challenges over and over, and we don't understand why.
For me it's been "failed" relationships, body hate and mistrust. I pretended everything was honky-dory, but life kept handing me the same thing over and over. I started to believe I was broken, that I needed fixing and that no one would ever love me. I started to try and control everything around me; my body, my environment, the food I ate. I wanted everything to be perfect and look perfect and it was utterly, and completely exhausting.
It wasn't until I began to take a deeper look within and ask myself some important questions about who I wanted to "be" in life and how I wanted to show up. The answer that came was profound at the time, because it wasn't about anything external, or anything I could acquire. It was all about being an example of love, authenticity, presence and inspiration for others. It was no longer about what I wanted to get, but who I wanted to be and how I wanted to show up in the world. The fact that I kept repeating patterns over and over only told me one thing; I was the common denominator and I was tired of hiding who I really wanted to be.
I started to share my most vulnerable truths with others. I started to have more compassion for myself. I began to forgive myself. I started to look deep at all the judgements and projections I was putting on others and turned the mirror back on myself. It wasn't easy, but it helped me to start to peek out of my deep, dark hole that I had been hiding in for so long. I didn't need to seem happy all the time. I didn't need to look perfect. I didn't need EVERYONE to love me. It was ok to just BE who I am. There was nothing to fix. I wasn't broken. Hallelujah!!! A serious awakening.
Now this is not to say that I don't practice these things on a daily basis. There are still days, hours, minutes I struggle, but what is different now is how I am showing up in the world for myself and others. I am NO longer the victim, but someone who is taking responsibility for my life and the flow it brings.
How can you start to come out of hiding and take responsibility for your experience in life? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. And remember...
I am here loving you! Always!