The image we uphold in this world is a hidden self-judgment that leads to the main source of our pain and suffering.
Who am I?
Who are you?
Who do you pretend to be?
Who do you want to be?
Who are you when no one is watching?
I find it so curious that most people spend energy trying to be someone other than who they are. Many of us are programmed to believe we were born to be someone else, other than who we are. We are each born as our unique selves, yet we spend a lifetime resisting that. Why? So, we can fit in? So, we can feel like we belong? We are not meant to fit in. We are meant to stand out. We are each meant to be a unique expression of self.
Self-judgment intimates that we are not good enough the way we are. The message is strongly portrayed in almost every advertisement, infomercial, magazine, and movie. This programming is deeply effective in our society. We are taught that we are not good enough, strong enough, smart enough, worthy enough, skinny enough, skilled enough, pretty enough, tall enough, perfect enough; and the list goes on and on and on.
Over the years we gather evidence of what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. We collect data on what others like and don’t like about us. We strive to be accepted by everyone and we yearn to feel a sense of belonging. We judge ourselves repeatedly based on what others think, what articles say, and what pictures portray, all the while striving to be anyone other than who we really are. We are trying to be a better version of ourselves because our current version isn’t good enough.
Our fear of judgment, and even more so of our self-judgment, drives our fear-based desire to live up to the expectations the world has placed on us. Here is the kicker: we will never ever, ever, ever live up to those expectations because it is not the world that has placed those expectations on us; we have done that to ourselves by buying into the world’s unrealistic version of what it means to be ourselves. We have put that pressure on ourselves by choosing to believe everyone else’s judgment and take it on as our own.
What image are you upholding?
Who are you trying to impress?
Whose expectations do you believe you are trying to meet?
I have spent most of my life wanting to be anyone else but me. At the same time, I spent a great deal of energy pretending to have it all together so that I wouldn’t burden anyone else. It was a hard role to play because I had so much internal pain that I could only hold it together for periods of time before I would fall apart. This usually happened in the privacy of my own company. The pressure would become so intense I would explode in tears and grief. After the tears passed, I would get up, wipe my tears, brush myself off, and once again step into the image I felt the need to uphold.
After all, I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.
I wanted everyone to like me, and I would go to great lengths to make sure I was accepted. In most circles, I was likable but not in all. Feeling unaccepted was a deep wound. Feeling left out created such an intense feeling of loneliness it was difficult to bear, but I had a role to play, an image to uphold, a world to save; I had no choice but to grin and bear it.
I have come to realize that not everyone is going to like me and I have made peace with that. In fact, I embrace it now as a gift. I often trigger people because I am a mirror for what they need to look at within themselves. There are times I will walk into a room and some people will see me and run the other way. Some will make eye contact but pretend they don’t see me. As an intuitive healer and an empath, I can sense what is happening behind the scenes. I can sense people’s hidden pains, fears, and emotions. That can be terrifying for some people because I may be able to see what they are hiding behind the image they are upholding. They are afraid to be exposed by my x-ray vision. They are afraid that I will see the hidden skeletons in their closet. In some ways, this is true, because I can pick up on what is hidden and playing in the background. However, unless I am working specifically with a client or a group, I do my best to mind my own business.
When I was younger and didn’t understand my gift, I would pick up on messages coming at me from everyone in all directions. It was exhausting for me and not helpful for others. While I do have the ability to energetically eavesdrop or read behind the headlines, I choose to respect others’ privacy and honor my gift by using it with clear intentions to tune in and help when I am meant to.
We are all mirrors for others and that will attract some people to us for healing, whereas others will lash out and project blame onto us to make themselves feel better. Some will run the other way because they are afraid to face their own wounds and leftovers. When I see someone withdraw and run away from me, I bless them. I send them love and see them as capable. I pray they find the individual who is meant to support them in seeing their shadows and facing their fears. I remember I am not meant to help everyone.
Images I Upheld
The good little girl
The healthy fitness guru
The successful business owner
I lived much of my life feeling like an imposter, pretending to be one way on the outside and feeling another way on the inside. When I first started my career as a fitness instructor I was suffering from anorexia and bulimia. I would teach others about how to eat healthily and be fit, yet I was barely eating any food and obsessively weighing myself several times a day. I felt like a fraud but I convinced myself that I was helping others, so it was okay.
Through the imposter syndrome, the pinnacle of self-judgment, we live one way, upholding an image in the world, but we feel a different way on the inside, behind the scenes when no one is looking. We feel like a fraud and as long as we uphold an image that we can’t live up to or we don’t reach out for help, we will continue to feel trapped. To this day, my ego-mind continues to try and create new images to uphold, by convincing me I need to live up to the expectations of the world. Sometimes it catches me off guard and I go along for the ride until I realize what is happening and I make a choice to surrender once again. Every morning, I wake up and choose to be the most authentic version of myself. Some people will accept me, and some won’t and that is okay.
What are some of the images you upheld growing up?
What are some of the images you are currently upholding?
What are you protecting?
What are you afraid people will find out about you?
Are you willing to face your fears and surrender all the images you uphold so that you learn to embrace who you are meant to be?
It all begins with creating awareness and making a conscious choice to let go, surrender, and trust. There is no one else in this world that would make a better you. You are the only you that exists. The world doesn’t need you to strive to be someone else. What the world needs is for you to be a full expression of YOU and nobody else but YOU.
Stay tuned next week for chapter 11 ~ We are Meant to Stand Out, Not Fit In
***This is an excerpt from Sue Dumais’ book “Stand UP Stand OUT Stand STRONG ~ A 30 Day Guide to Navigate Life When the SHIFT Hits the Fan”
(Printed 2018) Published on atfortyfive.com with permission from © Sue Dumais
Read more articles from Sue Dumais
If you’ve enjoyed this article share it. If you have thoughts on the content leave a comment below. Do you have expertise, knowledge, or a life experience to share? Visit the Contributor tab for more information.