We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves. – Francois de La Rochefoucauld
I stumbled across this quote last week and was struck by the importance of this sentence. I believe that it relates to many of the reasons that lead people into therapy. I began thinking about how as children we are so innocent and then we hit an age where we realize that we will be judged for who we are, how we speak and what we like.
Have you ever noticed the difference between how children act in kindergarten and how they act in middle school? The fear of judgment takes on such a presence in peoples’ lives that they become scared to be themselves. I think that this is why I work with so many adults who have such a hard time expressing their feelings. This is why I work with so many college students who are “mildly depressed” and who don’t know what they are passionate about. This is why it becomes so hard to say “I love you” to the people we love the most.
We spend so much time trying to keep people from seeing what we truly care about, what we feel vulnerable about. We do this because if they knew those things and they teased us, or rejected us we would be devastated.
Isn’t that what feeling vulnerable means?
The problem with hiding our vulnerability is it is remarkably hard to find genuine, honest, deep connection with others if we keep people at a distance. One of the most important parts of couples therapy is to help couples learn to trust each other again and build enough safety so that they can find genuine connection again.