Imagine going through your entire life and never finding the courage to show up as the real you. This is my fear. Real courage is taking off our masks, not putting them on.
Real courage is taking off the mask, not putting on the mask. It’s not putting on a macho front, it’s actually showing up as a real person.
There’s a fear that I live with and that fear is going through my entire life and not letting my real self show up, just remaining too scared to stand up and be the person that God made me to be, intended for me to be, so that I can bring whatever it is that I need to bring into the universe. And this is a real palpable fear.
And what’s so interesting is that this fear is what is the very building block of all relationships, the ability to be as much of our real self as possible with another person so that we strip off any masks that we have that we’re hiding behind so that the other person can actually get to know us and, therefore and thereby, be close to us.
And that’s the reason why what is fundamental in relationships is the ability to be vulnerable, which is, essentially, exposing a deeper level of our true self because that is the one and only way that we can create closeness and intimacy. And when I say intimacy, I mean a sense of deep connection with another person, a sense of intimate connection with another person. That can only happen if we actually present ourselves. If we are constantly protecting ourselves, hiding and covering ourselves, then, of course, there is no way for someone to be close and intimate with us. It’s usually terrifyingly scary. And as we reveal ourselves and the other who we are revealing ourselves to, in very small baby steps, begins to accept, listens to us and simply accepts what it is that we’re sharing about ourselves, that encourages us to expose more, to be more real, I should say.
There is no mission here to expose things, the mission is to be real. And we slowly become more and more real.
And this is the true definition of showing up or manning up. This is real courage. Real courage is taking off the mask, not putting on the mask. It’s not putting on a macho front, it’s actually showing up as a real person. It’s not looking courageous, it’s actually being courageous. And we know we’re being courageous when we’re doing something which is difficult. And so when we share our real self, how we really feel, what is really bothering us, what we truly enjoy, what it is that we are attracted to, what makes us feel good, what makes us feel bad, all of these things are revelations of who we are as a person. Some of these things are beautiful, some of these things are ugly, but at the very moment that we’re sharing them, they are truths about us and they are revealing who we really are at this moment.
And so when we reveal any of these things, then we are actually being real and that requires courage and that brings us closer and deeper in our connection with other people. And as life goes on and as our relationships deepen, we go even deeper with maybe events that happened in our life that we never shared with anyone or things that we are ashamed of that we’ve done. But the safer the relationship is because we go deeper together, the more we are able to step even deeper.
And the second element which is vitally important for a deep intimate relationship is not only sharing your true self but creating a safe space for another, the other person who you’re in a relationship with to also be vulnerable. And the way we do that is by permitting them to share their true self. And how do we permit them to share their true self? The way we do that is by making sure that when they are exposing themselves, we don’t judge them for it, we don’t criticize them for it, we don’t even question how they can feel that way or how could they have done such a thing. We simply accept that this is who they are right now, this is how they feel, this is what they did. And when they can feel that genuine acceptance from us, we have created a safe space for them to be more real. We’re giving them the one gift that every single human being yearns for, and that gift is the gift to be safe, to feel safe, to be ourself.
And we do that when we simply accept people for who they are. And as they expose their real self, we can be intimate with them because they are revealing themselves. And, of course, the flip side of all of this is that the way we destroy relationships is by doing the two very opposite things. We destroy relationships when we insist on being guarded, when we insist on protecting ourselves when we insist on being untrusting and, therefore, we do not share a truer level of ourself with another person. That makes it impossible for the other person to draw near to us and impossible for the other person to have an intimate relationship with us.
And the second way that we destroy relationships is when we shut down others from sharing and opening up and exposing their real self. And we do that again when we insist on judging them when they share that they feel a certain way. Well, how can you feel that way? You shouldn’t feel that way. Or when we criticize them for feeling that way or when we question them feeling that way instead of simply observing what they’re saying and taking with fascination this new depth that we’re learning about the other person.
And here is a fascinating thing, the fascinating thing is that this is the reason why God needs us to do certain things. Inherently, essentially, God is an infinite being Who has no needs. God is not needy. But God chose to make himself needy by saying, turning to us and saying, I need you to do these things. And the reason why God made himself needy is that through God needing us and through us showing up for God, we develop an intimate relationship. If I don’t need you and you don’t need me, we cannot have an intimate relationship. When I need you to hear who I am and accept me as I am, and when you need me to hear who you are, who the true you is and for me to accept who the true you is, we create intimacy.
God wants an intimate relationship with every single one of us. And he, therefore, made himself needy so that we can have this intimacy. And, of course, it goes without saying that we need God for so many things. And through our needing God, that’s not a sign of weakness, but it gives us the ability to open ourselves up and turn to God and expose our true selves by saying, we are needy. And in that way we draw so close to God and God responds in turn.
So work on owning up, showing up, manning up, whatever language works for you. Be the truly courageous person and begin to share your true self.