Living Behind Facades

Facades can be designed both to protect us from those in our lives, and to turn us into new and more exciting versions of ourselves. They can misrepresent us by advertising ourselves as someone were not, or someone we want to be, and they put distance between us and the world.

Personality facades are artificial versions of ourselves, or masks we wear. They are basically roles that we play to others, which give us a limited sense of importance, success, affirmation to both ourselves and to other people. They can be adorned by the careers we have, the material items we own, the money we have, or the importance that we create for ourselves. They are superficial realities that we use to judge ourselves by, and judge others by, and are egoic in nature.

These masks or roles mostly serve to make us more appealing to others. They allow us – in a roundabout way –to get our needs met from those in our lives, be they friends, coworkers, family, or others we encounter. When we put our mask on, we then enter into a game in which the goal is to seek out love, adoration, acceptance, importance, or good standing with those who encounter our facade. They are needs we’re seeking to get met from others, that we can’t someone meet for ourselves.

The problem with living behind these facades is that our authenticity, or our true self, gets suffocated and snubbed out. When you suspend the facade or the false front, the real person behind it may be someone you feel is inadequate, inferior, insecure, or not up to par in someway to deal with others. That person may be someone you wholeheartedly reject, and never really allow to appear in your life because his or her perceived flaws are unacceptable to the world.

Sometimes, we get so used to clinging to the false fronts that we forget that anyone with actual substance exists behind them. The tendency to keep the facades going has become second nature and so unconscious that they exist on autopilot. It’s quite probable that we manufactured these facades growing up in our families of origin, or when we were young, as ways to protect us from inadequacy, weakness or insecurity. Creatively, we create these masks to compensate for personality deficiencies that could leave us vulnerable to others’ emotional or verbal harm of us, including from parents. Sometimes, the facades get built to insulate us and keep us imprisoned from the world.

Taking the risk to pierce or puncture old facades has its benefits. It can mean the difference between keeping a friendship or intimate relationship on a superficial level, and deepening it to one that is more fulfilling. I think that we think we run the risk of rejection if we open up and expose others to the real version of us, who we think will be less than adequate and unappealing. But, the reality is a bit different.

It can be that we ourselves reject who we really are behind the false fronts, and project that onto others. If we have a self critic, he or she can hammer at us and try to keep our true self in lockdown, especially in the case that we don’t like who we truly are. Dealing with the self critic, we may allow ourselves to truly shine through – warts and all. We may be able to learn how to embrace our true self, even if we have been unacceptable to ourselves in the past.

I find that relationships thrive when they are opened up to deeper dimensions, and are usually welcome by other people. Many times, other people in your life are craving the authenticity and genuine qualities of bringing your true or false self to the relationship, even if you think they’ll reject you. And it may be worth reconsidering those relationships that cannot deepen and seeing if they still work for you after you risk being vulnerable.

Facades are just avatars. They allow us to navigate our lives and our relationships, and are not bad things in and of themselves. Different situations and relationships require different roles, but the problem comes when you forget you’re playing the role and forget to drop the facade and bring our your authentic self.

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About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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