How often fear tells us a story about our insufficiencies? About how we have to hide and mask what seems to be imperfect? Fear tells us that being honest about what we perceive as flaws and mistakes, will lead to increased loneliness. To contempt or scorn from others.
„Fake it, till you make it“ appears to be the safer way. Only that we are constantly aware of the fact that we didn’t make it yet. We know that we do not live up to our ideas of perfection. We constantly sense the gap between what we are and what we ought to be. And the bigger we belief the gap is, the harder we try to hide it from others. Hiding by not getting to close into contact, hiding by being superficial, hiding by pointing out the flaws of others, in order to distract from our own. Selling ourselves out as a product to others, doing marketing and promotion for the surface. A constant struggle on the outer to maintain the fassade and to ward off critic or doubt that might scratch the shiny surface. And a fight on the inner to finally live up to the ideas of what we think we should be. It is exhausting!
There is another possibility. I see it regularly happening on meditation retreats, or other occasions, where, due to an intense processes of introspection, we are no longer able to keep the shields, masks, roles going, that we tend to hide behind. If the environment feels safe enough and people show some degree of kindness and interest in us, healing can take place. We will let the guard down a centimeter or two and anxiously wait for a response. And way more often than not this response is one of kindness. Authenticity and vulnerability directly speak to the compassionate heart of the other.
Opening up, letting the guard down is not only a risk, it is also a gift we make. When one is not perceived is flawless, strong, impeccable, the other can allow his or her own weaknesses to shine through. Vulnerability allows to find a common ground. It allows to be human together.
So can we, from time to time, at the right place with the right person, let the mask fall and offer a facet of ourselves that is real and sincere? It will be a gift, an offering and it might open up a connection that goes deeper than the superficial chattering that so often hinders nourishing contact. Such contact is the basis for a feeling of friendship and belonging. Being human together in all its facets brings us closer, opens the heart and allows for compassion.
With whom and under which circumstances can I allow myself to show my vulnerabilities?
What helps me to do so?
What do I gain, if I let my guard down?