It’s impossible to form healthy, satisfying, or sustainable connections with people by being fake. Seems pretty obvious, but people are still out here giving it the old college try, aren’t they?
Nice Guy Syndrome? Fake.
Social Chameleon? Fake.
These (and so many more) are inauthentic and fundamentally dishonest ways of curating other people’s perceptions of you.
They’re forms of self-abandonment and self-rejection, which necessarily generate feelings of abandonment and rejection (duh), and subsequently compel you to double down on these behaviors to avoid being abandoned and rejected! A vicious cycle indeed.
Unfortunately, the calls are coming from inside the house, if you know what I mean.
Abandoning yourself can seemingly prevent abandonment by others in the short term, but over time you will find that it makes authentic human connection virtually impossible and thus guarantees more experiences of disconnection and abandonment.
It’s like Dr. Vincent Felitti once remarked, “You can never get enough of something that almost works.” Being inauthentic is exactly such a habit.
The only reason anyone uses these ineffective and self-sabotaging coping strategies is because they’re trauma responses — wired into our nervous systems, compulsive in nature, and designed specifically to deal with immediate threats (real or perceived). You’ll never find a trauma response with a five-year plan.
Every such compulsive behavior is an attempt to evade uncomfortable emotions in the present moment. This is why people often overlook the damage that is wrought in the long run. We focus on what inauthenticity does for us and completely miss what it’s doing to us. But I guess this could be said of all coping mechanisms and self-medicating strategies.
Reclaiming Your Authenticity
I write a lot about authenticity because it’s so darn important (see here, here, here, and here… and this video), but let me frame the big picture for you now in case you haven’t read all of my articles and social media posts already.
Physical or emotional abandonment in childhood leads to some form of self-abandonment 100% of the time (performance, perfectionism, parentified child, codependency, over-functioning, under-functioning, dissociation, self-medicating, etc.). In other words, self-abandonment is a trauma response (the driving force of anxious attachment, btw).
The Latin origin of the word “authentic” literally means to have a self — the very antithesis of self-abandonment. Therefore, inauthentic habits are often wired into our nervous systems as compulsive responses to unresolved relational trauma. So breaking these habits usually isn’t quite as simple as “You should totally stop being a people-pleaser, m’kay?”
No, this shit is bone-deep, and it requires some serious soul surgery to extricate yourself from it’s clutches.
Here are a few suggestions for the journey back to yourself:
- Work with a therapist, coach, mentor, or teacher of some sort — relational trauma cannot be healed in isolation
- Surround yourself with people who will love you until you learn to love yourself
- Remove and protect yourself from toxic and triggering people, places, and things (setting boundaries)
- Pick up Kristin Neff’s book Self-Compassion
- Lean into self-care, self-love, self-worth, positive self-talk, and reparenting yourself
- Identify and remove toxic shame, which is a reliable byproduct of relational trauma and a bar to all growth
This journey of self-discovery and healing is long and challenging — certainly more difficult than the six bullet points above might imply. But if you can focus on these things and continue down the path they open up for you, I’m confident you can transform your life.
Remember, suggestions are free. The only ones you pay for are the ones you don’t take.
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