I Beg You To Quit Pretending

I Beg You To Quit Pretending

By Lissa Rankin MD

Guest Writer for Wake Up World

A friend of mine called me to confide in me about how she was struggling in her marriage, and after listening to her story and meeting it with compassion instead of the judgment she feared, I confessed that my marriage wasn’t going so well either. I shared with her the struggles Matt and I were dealing with, and her response was, “I would never have guessed that in a million years. You two just seem so perfect together”.

A week later, the same friend called to tell me that she had finally opened up to a few other friends about her marital struggles, and lo and behold, every single one of them had confided in her about their own marital struggles. She said, “Lissa, why have I not known I wasn’t alone? Why have I been suffering, thinking I was the only one whose marriage was screwed up, when I’m surrounded by people I love who are going through the same thing?” We pinky promised to talk openly with people about the ways in which the “perfect” image others might have of us is complete BS.

I was talking to another friend who is also going through a rocky patch in her marriage, and she was telling me how much it pains her to drop off her kids at school and see all the happy mothers with perfect families. I told her all she’d have to do is dig one layer deep to find some way in which everyone in the school yard was suffering in at least a small way. The ruse is the lie that leaves us all thinking everyone else has it together – except us.

Show Us Your Imperfections. I Dare You.

I grow tired of people who are so invested in their image that they pretend to live perfect lives, which only leads others to compare themselves and judge themselves as not perfect enough by comparison. Why can’t we all just admit that we’re perfectly imperfect – and that our imperfections and scars make us beautiful and unique and relatable?

Just in case I’ve pulled the wool over your eyes, I am far from perfect. I’m in marriage counseling. I have hairs on my chin and stretch marks on my butt. I battle my own ego. I can be bossy and demanding. I have to tame my ambition to avoid being a workaholic. So please don’t put me on a pedestal, and please don’t put yourself on one either, since it only distances you from those who would connect more if only they knew that you were as beautifully flawed as they are.

Tell us one thing about you that keeps you off the pedestal – one perfectly imperfect way thing that makes you real!

It makes me sad to think about how much of my life I wasted feeling lonely and disconnected because I was too busy trying to project some sick, twisted image of perfection. I was so afraid people would reject me if only they knew who I really was that I presented this sanitized version of myself in order to try to please people. Of course, it backfired. Not until I finally stripped off the masks and revealed who I really am under the false image I was projecting did I actually start to attract the love and acceptance I so desperately desired.

Overcoming Perfectionism

I’ve written a lot about the poison of perfectionism. I think I keep writing about it because giving myself permission to be imperfect is a constant practice. I try, but then I forget, and I slip into old patterns. We really do teach what we need to learn, and being a recovering perfectionist is no easy feat.

I used to think that my perfectionist tendencies drove me to be a better person. Now, looking back, I realize that all they did was imprison me in a fortress of loneliness and “never good enough”. It’s so much more liberating to be able to say to myself what I’ve always tried to say to those I love — “I see that you screwed up. I know that you’re trying to do better. And I love and accept you just as you are right now, and I don’t need you to be anything other than who you are”.

I Beg You To Quit Pretending 2Phew. What a relief.

Imagine if we all stripped off our masks. Imagine if we said, “To hell with being polite; we’re just going to be real”.

Imagine if, instead of lying and saying “Fine” when someone asks how you are, you could honestly say, “I just got my heart broken and it hurts. Plus, I just took a creative risk, and I failed. But thank God the apples are ripe and sweet and make the most luscious sound when they fall to the ground at harvest time”.

Wouldn’t that make your days so much more interesting and real?

You Aren’t Like The Others – But You Are

It’s sad that we make ourselves so heartbreakingly lonely by thinking that we’re not like the others, when the others – they are all just like us. As I was thinking about this, I came across this Timothy Leary quote shared on Facebook by my friend Glennon, and it perfectly expresses what I was just feeling. There’s no such thing as “normal people” because they’re all just like you, only some are playing the game more than others. When you release that illusion of separation, the loneliness just dissolves…

“Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the “normal people” as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like “have a nice day” and “weather’s awful today, eh?”, you yearn inside to say forbidden things like “Tell me something that makes you cry” or “What do you think deja vu is for?” Face it, you even want to talk to that girl in the elevator. But what if that girl in the elevator (and the balding man who walks past your cubicle at work) are thinking the same thing? Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger? Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others…”

Will You Join Me?

Will you be brave enough to be yourself, to strip off at least some of your masks, to reveal to us who you really are? Will you tell us one imperfect thing others might not know about you? Can you look at your imperfections without shaming yourself over them? If you can’t do it publicly here, will you commit to finding even one person you trust and telling him or her? Every single one of us has something we wish others would never find out. But until you tell us what it is, how can we prove to you that not only will we love you anyway, but that we’ll actually love you MORE?

To those of you who are already living out loud, high fives and hallelujahs… To those who are still hiding behind masks hoping others won’t find out that you’re imperfect… Will you join us and stop pretending to be someone you’re not so we can see that really, you’re one of us?

We’re all in this human thing together, my dear. And we’re all just trying to do the best we can…

Loving you just as you are,


Previous articles by Lissa Rankin:

About the author:

lissa_rankinDr. Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself. She is on a grass roots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.

Lissa blogs at LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities – HealHealthCareNow.com and OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a speaker, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.

Connect with Lissa on Facebook and Twitter, or visit LissaRankin.com

 


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  • Secret

    Deep deep deep down I really hate myself for being me!

    • discovery

      thank you for an amazing article. It is a lot harder to do than it sounds. I was going to say that it might depend on what your “imperfection” is, but I’m sure we all struggle hard with all sorts of things.
      To the person that said they really hate themselves for being themselves, I’m in the exact same boat.
      I have a very hard time loving and accepting myself, and a hard time finding my worth. (How do you even find that? does that even exist?) All these things just really lead down that road of really hating myself.

      • discovery

        I’m also deadly afraid to admit it for fear that someone might see that in me and throw it in my face, as opposed to my true nature. For someone to say that I am weak or worthless based on such little information.

  • Michelle

    I love this article, I do this at least 50% of the time, I find people don’t like to deal with the truth or your truths, but it is just how I am, a very straight forward kind of person. I am with you though, I hope to see more people like this! Ok here is something about me most don’t know. I got divorced almost 4 years ago and I am scared to death about getting into a relationship because I am afraid of all the bad things that can happen, your heart gets broken, they up and leave you (your heart gets broken) do you see a theme here ha ha. I want to Love someone, I have so much love to give and I want to be loved I want a relationship I am just scared so I think maybe that is why I have not had one really as of yet. here is another one, I get so lonely sometimes. There are a few of my very personal truths.

  • thank you for such an inspiring article.

  • Phew! Thank you, thank you for such beautiful honesty! I got hit hard with many of your words but especially “we teach what we need to learn.” That one was just Huge!

    Intimacy continues to be very tricky for me & now I get why…too many fears about really being seen.

    This is my new mantra: “I see that you screwed up. I know that you’re trying to do better. And I love and accept you just as you are right now, and I don’t need you to be anything other than who you are”. xo

  • Samantha777

    Hi everyone, I love Lissa’s articles and share them on FB, they are so inspiring. Gosh this is hard lol I’m a single mum, I’ve been following my dream career for the last 2 years which has made things particularly difficult financially. I can’t follow the herd mentality – sometimes I feel like I’ve landed on the wrong planet. I have been single for 3 years and feel like a failure as a mother and a woman. I believe our purpose in life is to help eachother, to share information and signs along our path. That’s what my work is about, I know things will change for the btter but sometimes it seems like a very lonely road and a uphill struggle. Love and blessings to you all xxx

  • April

    I am 40ish and am still afraid of most of my emotions.

    • gary

      the hardest thing for me is to talk about FEELINGS. I also had to realize that nothing out side of me was going to make me happy. I have bought into a lot of programming, how I am to look, dress, eat, If I do not act right,look right, wear the right stuff, I will not get the right matte and will not find happiness, I have found this to be very shallow. Happiness comes from with in, I have had to learn to not judge my insides by your out side. I will always come up short

  • FREE

    I have a lazy left eye that i have shaped my whole life around from years of being teased,bullied, and talked about. I squint to avoid the stares and questions, i never sit where i would have to look to my left…and i try not to look at ppl in the eyes for too long. Ive even tried to destroy baby pictures. Ive gone my whole life perfecting these tactics. And im tired. And i just for once want someone to love me for it and not judge or question or be creeped out by this.

  • Raja

    Wow, spot on! I had started going through some major turmoil in my marriage last fall. I normally would never talk to people about it; no one seems to open up. I don’t either. But it was bad enough I ended up selecting a few friends and asked for prayers. And sure enough, they started telling me how they too, went through someone similiar, or they too – had to go through counseling, and a couple of them also thought their marriage might not make it. I was SO SHOCKED! I thought it was just me!! I couldn’t believe it. This article is just like me!

  • Angiep1982

    I can be hypocritical! Not many know that about me as I’m very good at hiding or running from a situation that may make me be hypocritical in. And I’m hypocritical out of fear of what others might say to me if I stand by beliefs! I’m so concerned about what a person will think of me and/or their feelings that I have at times told a lie or not stood up for another as adamantly as I should’ve, I’ve been very passive! That’s really good to get out!!