I watched Bruce Jenner’s interview on Friday. While I acknowledge his courage in coming forward and speaking openly, it left me with very mixed feelings. On the one hand, I can understand why, growing up in the era he did, Bruce would never come forward before now. I can see how his identity and image as an Olympian formed, in large part, due to his desire to be something other than his true self. I can understand the pain he must’ve gone through for all this time.
As a wife and mother, what I don’t understand is why he would involve so many wives and children in a life that was so heavily involved with living a lie. If I put myself in any of those women’s shoes, while I feel for Bruce and his plight, I’d wonder, “What about my dreams, my desires, the life I wanted with you? What about the fact that you sold me a dream you KNEW you couldn’t deliver 50, 60 years from now? What about the fact that you lied to me about who you REALLY were… until we were too deeply involved and connected by children for me to easily extricate myself from the situation? What about me?”
And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Bruce’s decisions and his involvement of others in his suppression of his TRUE self is far more common in relationships than most people think.
Here’s what’s true: Whether it’s about a gender, what you earn, your personality, where you want to live, or what you TRULY want from a relationship, most people are deathly afraid of being themselves… ESPECIALLY in relationships.
Every one of us remembers what the beginning of a marriage looks like: your hair is always done, your breath doesn’t stink, and you don’t fart… and that lasts all of about 5 seconds and, at some point, no matter how much “changing” you try to do, the REAL you always shows up… which leads me to a powerful question that Bruce’s interview inspired:
Why are we so afraid to be our REAL selves?
Here are the answers I’ve come up with so far:
#1- We fear the abandonment and rejection of those we love and, with that, the reality that we’ll never be loved or wanted again. As far fetched as that sounds, for most of us, being left and never being found is a very REAL fear. We feel it so deeply that we mold ourselves into the image of people we think our partners want. We deny who really are and we allow ourselves to play “house” with life so we can be the “good” boys and girls mommy and daddy raised. Until we believe that we are loving and lovable just as we are, this fear has the power to run our lives and keep us from being who we were born to be.
#2- We fear that the REAL us won’t be worth being in the end. If you live a lie, you still have the opportunity, at the end of 80 or 90 years, to whimsically say on your death bed, “If only I’d been me…” If you decide to live your life as YOU, your real self, and life still has its’ shitty moments, you still have bad days, and relationships still end before you want them to, you now have to accept that being the REAL you doesn’t fix all or make everything okay. What most people don’t realize is that ONLY by being the REAL you can you handle all the shitty parts of life from a solid, strong place. Your fake self has very little ability to cope and it cracks the moments problems arise. That’s why you see many people step into their REAL selves in the midst of major life crises (divorces, death, financial disaster). In those make or break moments, only the REAL self can rise like a phoenix from the ashes. The fake self can’t do that.
#3- We fear that we’ll let our parents down. This is a SUPER real one. Say what you want but that birth tie (whether through childbirth or adoption) is REAL and BINDING. There’s a part in all of us that wants to live up to (or, in some cases, defy) our parents expectations. To do that, we change who we are. We become doctors when we really wanted to be dancers. We marry the “perfect” person when we really wanted to be with the right one. We buy that house when we wanted to live in that condo near the beach. We live nearby when we really want to move far away. We do all of these things to please the parents who gave us life… all because, on some level, we feel we “owe” them that… which is why so many people wait until their parents die before they launch out and live their TRUE lives. That’s a mistake on so many levels, ESPECIALLY if you had a young parent. You’re basically growing up and growing old with mom and dad. If you’re waiting for them to pass to be your real self, that doesn’t leave you much time.
These 3 are just the cream of the crop reasons why we fear being ourselves.
What can we do about it?
Be courageous like Bruce.
Speak your truth, even if only to yourself.
Begin to live your truth in small and big ways.
Say what needs to be said without debating, defending or arguing your point.
Live from the highest place within you and stop apologizing for doing so.
Leave that crummy marriage (or transform it).
Let go of friends who aren’t really friends.
Create amazing relationships with your children.
Do what you want to do. Go where you want to go.
Create an exit plan from the job that’s sucking the life out of you.
Let go of the past and every toxic person in it.
Honor your need for alone time and space.
Don’t apologize for things you didn’t do.
Tell your parents who you REALLY are and what you REALLY want and let their opinions be just that: opinions.
Enter ALL relationships being 100% yourself. That’s the only way to guarantee that you experience the relationship fully and leave it with all integrity if that’s what happens in the end.
Above all else, love yourself and honor who you are by being that 100% of the time.
At the end of the day, you’ve got YOU… and that’s all you need…
Are you ready to uncover your REAL fears?
Check out my latest book on Amazon and learn how: