Quit Pretending to be who you are!

February 06, 2008

To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.
William Shakespeare
The ancient Greeks, as early as the 5th century BC, used the theatre to explore the tragedy and comedy of life. Athens promoted the performing traveling troupe to encourage a more unified state identity among the inhabitants. For thousands of years, inspired by the Greeks, actors and actresses earned a living by pretending to be someone other than themselves. Today, with modern technology of film, internet, video cell phones and public cameras, many of us are "on stage" whether or not we know it. At the end of the day, in the still quiet of your rest, take notice of the mask of your identity and the person you see in the mirror.

Depending on to whom we talk, our persona varies greatly. We take on a different manner or tone, for instance, when speaking with a child, or our boss, or even the elderly. This natural adaptation to our listener, happens almost instinctively, and serves to create an effective communication between us. While the foundation of our being remains unchanged, our projected image varies widely according to who listens to us. Without suggesting that we remain static in our method of interaction, I intend to rather remind us that we not get lost in the altered state of communication that detracts us from our true selves.

Quite often, we see a forced smile or feigned delight when we encounter people whose job requires them to act a certain way. As observers of public figures in candid video, we seem surprised that these folks do not always wear their stage presence in everyday life. Instead, they shift somewhat easily from limelight to daylight and back again when the situation demands it. As non-celebrities, the scope of our pendulum of behavior narrows and we must take care to remember our true self in all circumstances or we lose the preciousness of who we are.

Your inner chameleon
We easily identify those times when we portray someone we're not, but when we pretend to be who we are - do we know the difference? Are we so out of touch with our authentic self, that we wear a mask of an alternate character instead of our beaming first-identity? From the simple act of a forced ear-to-ear smile for a cheesy photograph, to an impersonal air-kiss (let's do lunch), to putting on the face of a warrior during our deepest fears, we easily morph into the moment's most expedient projection. When we step back and examine in what ways we alter our inner truth, we find some surprising and perhaps disturbing similarities.

Chameleonism, a term I coined to refer to a coping mechanism, - signifies altering ourselves to fit to the situation. Nothing within us shifted, changed or disappeared. We choose, aware or not, to present to the world a different fa├žade of our splendid selves. Unlike the true changeable reptile, our outer appearance remains the same, yet our insecurities lead us to modify our expression to something other than our authentic nature. All this comes as no surprise and in general, causes no harm to ourselves or others, unless we actually believe our inner chameleon represents us and we forget who we truly are in the process of fitting in.

Integrity of authenticity
Your true self - the one who looks back at you from the bathroom mirror - reflects the image of you no matter the location or your present company. Often referred to the archetypical definition of integrity, the phrase "who are you when no one's looking" pointedly directs the finger of discernment back to us in the mirror. When our character and behavior remain consistent in the silence of our solitude as well as in the cacophony of a crowd, we accept our integrity as our natural state.

Hypocrisy can easily creep in and the often the only person who knows about it, is you. For most people, the disconnect from ethical senses provide enough of a jarring of conscience to keep us in line. Others may notice the inconsistency and choose to act 180 degrees from their moral compass. And sadly, for a few, the consideration of who they are in private and how they act in public, never crosses the radar of their intentions. The candy bar eaten in the dark closet in the far room of the house still contains the same calories as if you enjoyed it at the kitchen table with your family and friends in full view!

Self talk
Author Louise Hay reminds us, "You are the only thinker in your mind." Given this truth, we also learned that if you tell a falsehood long enough (to yourself or others), you'll soon believe it. Modern thinkers espouse repeating affirmations - whether or not you believe them - eventually molds the subconscious into manifesting your words as truth. Hey, it works, and I speak my list of "now" thoughts with passion dozens of times a day. At worst, my fellow drivers see me talking to myself in my vehicle, at best, what I claim in my positive declarations, bursts into reality. I figure, it can't hurt if it's what I really, really, want.

But when self-talk denigrates our spirit, snipes at our well-being and questions our true self-worth, then we need to reel in the fish of negativity and bait our hook for thoughts which serve us, instead of harm us.

Pretend to be who you want to be
New Thought teaching directs us that all we own is the present moment. If we spend our precious present pretending to be other than our true self, then we waste both our integrity and our potential. Yet, Wayne Dyer, one of my favorite spiritual teachers, encourages "You'll See it when you believe it!"

The present moment, is indeed a precious gift. It powers us toward our desires with the fuel of our thoughts, intentions and integrity. When we create a present moment of living the life we choose to live through our attitudes and thoughts, we formulate a future based on deliberate choices in consciousness and direction for a higher self.

So go ahead, you have nothing to hide! Don't pretend to be who you are - just live who you are - in the glorious present moment which shapes and manifests your inevitable days to come!

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