Real self, false self.
Ever thought that these two phenomena can both exist in each one of us? One is the authentic, spontaneous, creative, loving self. The other is the inauthentic, pretending, co-dependent, fearful self.
“I don’t like what I’m hearing from this session. It’s a disaster,” comments Christine during our marital therapy. She panics at what’s being exposed beneath the fears, weakness, and confusion she’s experiencing towards her whole family. When asked to take responsibility over her part in family relationships, she chooses to displace it into her husband and three children.
Further trying to shield her self from further exposure, she profusely breaks down into tears, like a little girl. She cries out and asks her husband to leave her since he finds her not being a good wife and mother. Way advanced she gets too afraid that her husband will think less of her, that deep-down she’s nothing to him.
I ask Christine, “Is the information you’re receiving now helpful to your healing or should it be hidden from you?” After a brief pause, she responds that it should not be hidden from her. She recognizes that it’s helpful to release her from her lonely prison. Yet she continues to find her self still becoming irrational, fighting against the very thing that she cries out for. A long conviction of self-worthlessness builds strong walls inside her.
The false self is a cover up. As psychotherapist Dr. Charles Whitfield, in his book “Healing The Child Within,” describes it: “Alienated from the True Self, our false self is other-oriented, it focuses on what it thinks others want it to be …it is inhibited, contracting, fearful…continually selfish and withholding. It is envious, critical, idealized, blaming, shaming, perfectionistic… Because our false self needs to withdraw and be in control, it sacrifices nurturing or being nurtured. It is self-righteous and attempts to block information coming from the unconscious.”
“Real self, false self” appears to be a universal struggle among all human beings. It’s demonstrated countless times in real life, in the the movies, in print, and in various media. When false self predominates rather than the real self in a person’s life, it’s very destructive to self, others, and intimate relationships. In short, though a survival tool, the false self is certified psychopathology.
It will not be easy. But those masks or walls of the false self can be beaten down. Since it’s highly sensitive, it needs to be done not only with firm hands but with gentle hands. That’s it’s only hope – for every one human being we meet.