We spend our whole lives trying to be something we’re not. That is the state of human relations, in a nutshell. Everyone is a phony; otherwise known as the false self, because it is, well, not real. At some level this is always known. It is the creepy background that clouds all our interactions with others. This is why we seek approval relentlessly, why we are in continual need of validation. Because whomever we think we are is a fiction that we’re making up as we go along. We desperately want others to believe our story because in our hearts we know it’s not true, but seemingly, our survival as a person with an identity depends upon its acceptance. Some spend their entire lives looking outside of themselves for this acceptance. We call them extroverts. Others hide, or hole up and keep to themselves, so that their fragile/flimsy self image will not be challenged. We call them introverts.

The need to convince others that we are who we think we are is an aspect of what Alan Watts calls “the unsolvable problem.” Even if we manage to convince, there is always this lurking terror of being discovered. So in relationship, as a survival tactic, we must necessarily withhold some part of ourselves, and we must also pretend to be a certain way, to the point of exhaustion. And so the trouble begins. This is perhaps what is meant by Byron Katie’s phrase, “No two people ever met.” Phonies get married and then unavoidably, yet understandably, end up miserable. We also become, or feel as if we are, inadequate parents under the same ruse.

Essentially, the deficient self is the phony self. The deficient self is what Scott Kiloby calls that persistent sense of not being enough, not being lovable or likeable, of being inauthentic and dishonest. It is a doorway. Try to find the phony, the impostor, the wizard behind the curtain. You are not that. You are ultimately and utterly free–free of pretension, free of the fear of intimacy, free of the fear of betrayal and abandonment.

That sense of inauthenticity is the source of fear behind the mask, and how the fear of failure is born. Do the inquiry on the phony, whether he parades as a wizard or a cowardly lion. Take off the mask and be fearlessly authentic. You don’t have to pretend to be anything any more. You can simply be.

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