The first thing to understand that if you’re around people and you feel lonely, the part of you that connects to them is not the real you. It is the mask that you put on. That is why you feel disconnected. There are all these people around you, but they don’t get to see the real you — they get to see a version of you.
How can you feel connected when all you show people is what they want to see?
You put on a mask because you’re afraid of what people will do if you don’t have the mask. There is something inside that you don’t want people to see.
You are not confident in yourself because that is what you have learned. Something happened that taught you very clearly that when people see whats on the inside, its not worth associating with. That is when you start to put on the mask.
As a result, you discovered something dangerous — when you put on a mask, things get better for you. When you hide who you are on the inside, people treat you better. You become nicer, sometimes you even become a doormat. You do things for other people. You’re always available for them. You let people borrow money and you don’t ask for it back. You do all kinds of things to make people like you, and the world becomes an easier place to navigate.
Why would you want to be who you are on the inside and risk rejection? Instead, you can be what you like, and then other people accept you. That is the thought process that gets us into trouble
We discover that the mask adds a lot of value. It helps you move forward in a way that being your authentic self does not. However, even though it gives you a lot of benefits, you are not letting people see who you are on the inside. Therefore, you become emotionally isolated.
The more successful the mask is, the more alone you feel.
The mask is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. It is supposed to get you invited to places and get people to interact with you. You think that it is the antidote to loneliness because it is increasing the number of interactions. And yet you become more and more isolated.
The first thing to understand is that there is a part of you that you are afraid of people seeing. Its going to be hard, but you need to show it to some people. You should be your authentic self. Recognize that as you try to be your authentic self, there is going to be a part of your mind that rebels. It will be afraid that if you stand up for yourself, it could rupture your relationships. However, at the same time, it is authentic.
You have to recognize that as you become your authentic self, you can get rejected. You need to have the courage to face that. You have to acknowledge that it is going to be terrifying, but I am going to do it. You have to be willing to lose, because the mask is about playing a game that you won’t lose. By playing the game that you cant lose, you end up never winning.
Maybe you want to be vulnerable with someone. You could say, “Hey, I feel I’m going to be alone forever”. When you disclose that, you are going to feel pathetic. But that is the first step in the right direction.
Moreover, your impression that they dont like what they are going to see when you display your authentic self, is an incomplete picture and somewhat false. That is the bottled up emotion, the lack of value of yourself as a person, that causes you to misjudge. It is the insecurity itself that is speaking.
There is a difference between not liking you, and you believing that people are not going to like you.
That belief is going to start controlling your actions. The more you put on your mask, the more you don’t let people see, the more that belief gets reinforced. You are showing yourself that when you dont show your real self, people like you a lot. Therefore, your real self is not worth liking, because they like your false self.
Every day that you put on the mask, you reinforce the idea that you are not worth liking.
This belief is built on one experience or a handful of experiences called Samskaras. These are balls of undigested emotions — they’re rejections or experiences of hurt where you felt that you are not a good person or people made you feel like you are not worth it. You carry that basic thing with you, and it starts to grow in your mind. Every day that you put on the mask, it starts to grow bigger and bigger.
Start to take off the mask little by little. Find the right place, the right person, take it off little by little. The more you take it off, you will realize that people will not reject you the way that you think they will. Then you will think, "Oh, I don't have to wear the mask all the time."
You are going to feel connected, and open up a little bit over time. Then you will realize that what you are on the inside may not be perfect, but it does not have to be rejected.
Confidence and security is not about being perfect. It is about being flawed and being accepted anyway.
The problem arises when people try to fix insecurity with perfection. For example, if someone is insecure of being unattractive, they are going to dress very carefully. They will think, “If I can dress perfectly, then people are going to think that I am an okay looking guy.”
That is dangerous because if they dress perfectly and nobody calls them ugly, then they will think that they HAVE to dress that way in order to be accepted. That feeds their insecurity. They will think that people’s acceptance of them is dependant on how they dress.
Start by noticing the insecurity and lack of value. Start by noticing that there is a part of you that is terrified to let other people see. That is the beginning.
It takes a lot of courage, but you have to take the mask off, little by little, you will realize that some people are going to accept you.
The problem right now is that you are not even letting people accept you. The only opportunity you give the rest of the world is to accept a version of yourself — a false version of yourself. So how can you ever gain security?
The more you give people the opportunity to accept you, the greater the chances are that you will be accepted. But that requires courage. It is difficult and it requires noticing.
If you feel isolated, recognize that the very things that you use to protect yourself are the things that are isolating you. You build walls so that no one can see you, and then you cry because you are alone inside.
The very solution that you create to fix your problems are the problems themselves. The more that you understand this, the freer you will be. The more in control you will be.
If you want to be in control of yourself, take a chance. Control is not about outcomes, it is about choices.