Much of my healing work involves helping people recognize and remove disguises they “wear” to hide things about themselves that they don’t want anyone, including themselves, to see. Some are more skilled than others at pulling it off, and much of what we experience from people is not who they really are. For some, everything they say and do is an act, designed to help them get what they want from others; at the expense of honesty, integrity, and personal responsibility. Such people usually either have some sociopathic tendencies, or may be struggling with unresolved core personality issues like inadequacy, victimization, trust, or control. Others may exhibit a mixture of truth and illusion, and may or may not know the difference. And then there are a few rare people who are totally who they present themselves to be. And you know what? Most of the time we will not know the difference. So I believe it is wise to be both accepting and cautious when meeting and getting to know new people; taking at least six months to experience, observe, journal about, meditate on, and draw conclusions regarding them; before believing that we really know them. Another important factor is that it is not possible for us to discover the truth about others beyond the degree to which we are able to see the truth about ourselves — which takes us to the punch line. Since we are the only ones we can really control or change, and since by becoming more aware and truthful we will be better able to identify the sincerity of others; we may want to focus on our own personal growth so we can recognize and remove our own disguises.
What These Disguises Represent
Depending upon their origins, these disguises could either represent intentionally sculpted masks, or defensively generated illusion. Some know exactly what they are doing, and change their persona like costumes in a studio wardrobe. They do this because they have learned that one act will get them what they want in one situation, and another in another. They usually have no conscience, lack genuine concern for others, and are consumed by using people to help them get what they want. Such performers, like dreamy ingenues, are often the most charming, sweet, persuasive people we will ever meet. The are also, regardless of how they may seem, the most ruthless. It is extremely helpful to recognize them early on, to keep ourselves and those we love from being hurt by them. Watch for contradictions between what they say and what they do, how they may act very differently with some people than others (fundamentally different), how everything revolves around them, how they are quick to say the words to smooth things over after they hurt us, but don’t stop hurting us. When dealing with such people, we must make our decisions based on what they do, and not what they say.
Some people sporting such camouflage are unaware of their disguises, since they are created by defenses that support ego issues, and this process occurs subconsciously. Although the effects can be equally as destructive, they are usually not doing it intentionally.
So let’s look inside ourselves to see if we have any of these tendencies and, if so, work to remove them. When we do, we will grow personally, evolve spiritually, and be better able to recognize them in others.
What To Look For
If we use our emotional reactions to the words and actions of others as a mirror, then we will be pointed toward the things within ourselves that we may need to address, or at least become more aware of. For example, if we are hypersensitive to dishonesty, then perhaps we need to examine the level of our own honesty, or work through our issues from the past related to having been lied to. Or, if we are quick to judge others, and eager to point out their mistakes; then we may need to look a little deeper until we discover our own inadequacy issues, our own stubborn unwillingness to admit when we are wrong, and then work to become more aware and responsible. If we are always experiencing others as being unfair, then we may need to look at the level of our unfairness to others, or our unresolved issues from being victimized in the past; and then work to resolve them. If we are hyper-vigilant regarding being controlled, sometimes believing that others are trying to control us when they are not; then we may need to look at how controlling we are, or at our unresolved issues resulting from having been traumatically controlled by others in our past (e.g. rape, domestic violence, child abuse, etc.).
Photo Credit: Ray Wewerka