I often felt trapped, playing a role, hiding behind the social mask. After losing myself in others, I challenged it during 3 years of travel, unleashing a raw self investigator. It didn’t spare any dark zone, pointing out a constant need of definition of my identity under a whole bunch of protection mechanisms.
From the beginning, when I started my self deconstruction, implying a lot of self inquiry, I could see loads of my patterns, emphasizing on my faults and flaws. I felt fragile, excluded, broken. At school, as I saw terrible shame scenes, I slowly integrated a soft version of the program « better be bad than broken », as a short-term solution, my real desire being to feel strong. Even if you guess that nobody would see me in the role of the mean one (I am cute, remember?).
It is very simple. We are used to imitate our parents or primary care-takers. Imitation is our first tool to learn a new skill. Therefore, that is what I did. In interactions, I saw that often the one with confidence seemed to know better, seemed to have somehow the upper hand on the other. Quickly getting that my discomfort would disappear if I was surrounded by people more socially embarrassed than me. That my impostor’s syndrome would be soothed when I was surrounded by younger people or classmate with worse marks. I found a great relief in taking the role of the saver with people suffering more than me. So I didn’t have to look into my vertiginous quest about the meaning of existence, my place in this world and the unsustainable definition of who I am.
I didn’t mean to be condescending with them. I really wanted to connect with people, to help, and to feel good about myself. As we all do. But since I was hypersensitive and highly hurt by condescension myself, I tried to overcome that disturbing feeling by copying. I ended up been condescending to find strength and confidence… especially with the condescending ones, because they would reinforce my inferiority complex and question my identity.
The need to define oneself
Pay attention to all the small comments about our hair, our job, our tendencies (when it is not our fat, the shape of our physical body or someone’s). People love to remind to others the specificity of who they think they are. For many, it is using the same adjectives through the years, staying stubborn in the description of their being, often giving to others an image that barely changes, even though time has passed. For most of us, that is saying sentences like…
This is not me.
I am like this, can’t help.
… and taking non-debatable position about their identity.
We all wish to find a definition of ourselves, to draw the shapes and limits of our identity. Unconsciously, we are looking for what we are by doing all kind of stuff, and being satisfy with showing up with those traits. Some people finding peace in the process, some others struggling with clumsiness or pride.
Condescension and relative knowledge
You believe that because of your social rank, because you got a certificate, a diploma, a good review or mark, from some people that are legitimate in that field according to you, you know. You believe that because you did this or that, you have the knowledge, the definite package of skills that are required to stand for an idea, a cause, according to you. That makes you not only more confident in the interactions that you have, but slightly patronizing. You are being condescending.
How is that the fact of getting a knowledge supposed to nourish your soul and restless mind causes you to become a scornful being instead of a wiser and more compassionate one?
We all know that knowledge is relative and that the more you know, the more you know you don’t know. That should lead to an increased humility instead of an inflated ego. So how is that the opportunities you got in your life, the people you met, the luck you had, the things you have been doing, are not as many experiences reminding you that you know nothing?
Most probably because all those things have not been accomplished for your soul, from a genuine place within. You had an unconscious intention, or a part of you had it. That is not black and white, a part of you could have had a pure interest in that field, whereas another one was trying to get you more… or less… .
Instead of bringing curiosity in your being, because deconstructing what you think you know, all those things are made to fill something up, they have a role. Instead of bringing humility, because deconstructing what you think you are, all those things are made to fill the fear of being nobody up.
I know, therefore I am.
You felt the need to define yourself by an action, a job, a quality. A part of you might have wanted to labelize yourself, in order to integrate a community, to be accepted, to be recognized, to find confidence and maybe use it to impress others or build your reputation.
But your identity is not based on what you’ve learnt, lived nor who you’ve met, but on why you got that skill and what taught you that experience or person. When you act out of passion, out of Love, friendship, communion, aspiration, devotion, the fruits of your decisions will fulfill every cell to the core of your being. The consequences will be alignement, joy, and happiness. If you act out of the fear of being nobody, because not being seen, recognized, accepted, let me tell you what might be happening:
You are reinforcing the fear you are acting out of and you are abandoning yourself.
That means, you are the first one not to recognize your own existence. You are the one that is not taking care of that part of you suffering from not being seen and loved unconditionally. And as long as you will keep doing it, you will feel abandoned wherever you go, whoever you are with. If the root is spoiled, the tree can’t grow. The thing is, instead of treating the stump, you keep taking care of the branches. And you legitimate your identity by signs of recognition. That is when the vicious circle starts.
Accumulating signs of recognition: the self-proofs junkies
You accumulate experiences, lovers, diplomas, followers, likes. And the consumer society is supportive. You need to get all those things in order to get attention, love and respect. Basically, to exist.
People are admirative of that image that you build, corresponding to a model of whatever (big manager, respected teacher, famous instagramer, bold backpacker…). That validates your unconscious thesis according which you have to do certain things to be what you are. You are looking for ways to prove what you are.
Those signs of recognition become necessary to justify your existence, so you start acting like a junkie: you become confused about the true nature of those signs. Whether they worth it, or not. Whether you should consider them, or not, if they are humans’… or humans. (That is when condescension could occur, by the way, among contempt, disrespect, anger, etc.)
The problem is the subject, not the object.
There is nothing wrong in wanting followers, likes, expensive cars and big houses, as there is nothing wrong in wanting many lovers. Since one of my favorite subject is Love and conscious sexuality, my biggest concern is about sex-addiction and sexual contempt. But it works with any object of addiction.
Accumulation of lovers to feel powerful, loved or in control is one of the biggest pitfall of our Tinder/so-called conscious sexuality awakening era. The vicious thing is that some tend to see themselves as masters, in a way, to know how to do it. One more time, that unstable confidence of thinking that we have a definite knowledge on one topic. Many are fooling themselves by being good-goal oriented, but end up wanting to give pleasure only to reinforce the image of themselves being good lovers.
Of course it can be well done, if done with consciousness and a lot of honesty. But in most cases, it brings a certain level of disconnection from the body, the mind and the sexuality itself, causing numbness on more or less subtle levels. Moreover, the object of addiction is dehumanized, even though we hide behind lust and eroticized speech. Almost always, there are expectations and we are not making love with a different being, we are seeking another trophy, thirsty of another sign of what we define us by. Mainly, it is fucking around to add names, shapes, screams, toys, locations, pleasures to our list.
The strong impact of others’ reactions
In this case, the sign of recognition is not only (if not at all!) the sexual partner, but the reaction of the entourage. And as long as there will be people to laugh about it, to compare their list with, as long as there will be collusive smiles, knowing winks and « jokes » about it, the thesis will be validated. To have a screw or not to be, there is no question.
You may try to prove your worth, your existence by any kind of signs of recognition, but coming from outside, they will never bring another level of pleasure than the low tension-release effect that it has. You will live in the illusion of being happy, creating scheduled opportunities to get signs of recognition so your identity is safe. But what if your friends don’t react when you say that you slept with 3 women (or men) in the same day yesterday? What if for no reason Snapchat or your favorite social network disappear and there is no one to validate your life anymore? Is it denying your experience of the world?
What if there are no ways to check that you exist anymore?
Pleasure is not happiness.
When you come to the point where you realize you are looking for recognition in your outer world, do not run away. Do not take another shot of likes by showing your breakfast on Instagram, and have the courage to sit with your friends and say: « I am screwed. » Do have the courage to face the universal fear of disappearing, of emptiness, of not knowing who you are.
Yes, that means being vulnerable. Yes, that means doing inner work, opening up, maybe going to a shrink and do serious self-development inquiry. Above all, that means reconnecting to yourself, to your intentions, your protections and your wounds. That implicates being seen, truly. And that is what you need the most.
The need of being seen, that pushed you to create a mask in order to be seen as you wouldlike other to see you, is hiding the fear of being truly seen. Because you are afraid that what you are could be wrong, or could be not enough, and that you won’t be accepted, loved and respected as you are. Playing the game of making suppositions to control the way people see you is a very unstable source of happiness. Who can pretend having the ability to control anything from the external world? In addition of being condescending with yourself, you end up being unhappy. What a play.
This is not a secret, pleasure is not happiness. Even though that is more comfortable to procrastinate the real work, numbing the question of your identity by external, superficial, temporary signs of recognition, it won’t bring any answer about your true nature. Keep in mind that you don’t have to prove anything to anyone: the very fact of you breathing, having a body and a mind is enough.
To be confident, to be recognized, to be loved.
To be free.