Did you ever see yourself as an actor? Many of us play one....just not on television. We smile, greet strangers warmly, or hold the door for someone we will never see again. At church, we dress up in our best outfits and have our spouse and children in tow. We sing, pray, and speak lovingly to those around us. When we go to work, we talk about he fun adventures spent during the weekend. We allow social media to view our happy, safe, and beautiful life. Is this for real or is it a part of an act?
In between the lies we want others to believe, many of us struggle with low self-esteem, abuse, or unloving relationships. Behind closed doors and surrounded by the four walls we live in, harsh words are interjected into unloving conversations, and the words of "I love you" are seldom, if at all, spoken. When was the last time you had a hug?
When I was a kid, I never heard the word depressed or anxiety. This was something that became mainstream during my children's lives. Is it that the medical staff is better at diagnosing? Is there just more people who suffer with this condition? Is the root cause due to home conditions, nutritional deficiencies, or both?
Recent conversations with several individuals have made me realize many of us live with painful hurts that are kept undercover. It plays an important role though, in how we view life. One person in particular comes to mind. She grew up in a family that didn't speak positive messages to one another. Her parents, who are divorced, never tell her she is loved, instead she gets criticized for things she does. She suffers from low self-esteem and it affects her relationships with friends. This is not necessarily a cultural issue, but I've noticed that some cultures don't show affection as much as others. This individual is longing to feel loved and accepted for who she is. Unfortunately, she isn't who she is. Because she wants to "fit in" she does things she doesn't like to do. In some ways she is pretending to be happy, by putting on a smile and go along with the crowd to feel accepted. She isn't being authentic, and therefore, the "smoke and mirrors" she is portraying is contributing to her anxiety and depression. What if she were brave enough to be authentic?
My childhood was quiet different. I was one of the lucky ones who had a safe and loving environment. I was told I was loved and disciplined according, which also sent the message of love. Discipline, even though I didn't like it at the time, gave me boundaries that kept me safe. It was a way my parents showed they loved me. Because of my upbringing, I was able to pass that onto my children. I didn't do everything right, but I’m sure my children know they are loved. There are many people who are simply touch starved. Showing affection is just as important as verbal acknowledgement.
Where do we go to talk about our real life without fear of judgment? I think very few people have friends they feel safe with. Sometimes, I think we just want others to instinctively know there is a problem, but nothing is ever said. Instead, we put on our fake smiles and pretend life is good. It's just too painful to uncover the scab of childhood, disappointments of life, the painful past or present experiences, or the marriage that is falling apart.
The places we need to talk about real issues are often the places we pretend to be perfect, like church. I think church should be a safe space, but the fear of judgment or being a "project" is too much for people to bear. How do we change this process? Even in a small group it's difficult to share painful experiences and disappointments. Sometimes people will sign up for counseling, but quit after a few months because the therapists want to uncover the scab. It's painful.
Living in the past does not need to represent the future. The story of the past is just that..the past. With time, we have the power to rewrite our future story. The mind is very powerful and by imagining the joy and pleasures that wait, one can help rewrite the story. Let the past be the past. Commit to being the authentic you. Sometimes it's necessary to cut out people in our life who don't bring us joy and peace, or who are not accepting to whom we are. It can be painful, but fear not. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
Health bite: Let go of the smoke and mirrors. Be your authentic self.
If you would like to speak with me about how I can help you, please contact me.