Why we are afraid to show our true selves

It is striking that the first words spoken by the angels in the Christmas story are “Do not be afraid”. It is as if one of the most important messages needed to be communicated to us is for us not to be limited by our fears. Everyday we see that the mind likes to dwell in fear. In fact, it is striking to notice how much of our day-to-day life is governed by an undercurrent of fear, which lurks behind a lot of our behaviours. This is why it is so hard to just sit still or stand still and just be ourselves — not doing anything to prove ourselves — without feeling anxious or fidgety. For these reason, we frequently develop a False Self when young, a mask which we think will be more acceptable to others. This False self is in response to failures encountered when we were growing, which led us to believe that we were not  acceptable just as we are. We feel we are not “good enough” and thus have to create a persona that we believe is better, maybe a “compulsive harder working self,” or an “always trying to please self”,  or an always” taking care of others while neglecting our own needs” self.

However, the different wisdom traditions teach that our True Self is worthwhile in and of itself.  Real freedom and joy is possible,  without hiding, and our exterior self can reflect our ture interior being, provided we know where to start. We need to begin with developing a kindness and warmth towards ourselves, by cultivating the eyes of these angels towards our inner self. Maybe these divine visitors see more clearly into our true nature, and remind us to look to that, and not to the fearful thoughts that discourage us. At times we find it easier to see ourselves in a limited and impoverished way, with our repeated patterns of thinking reminding us that we are weak or struggling. These texts remind us that there is a natural courage deep inside us. They encourage us to believe, to dare, to open up to possibilities. Fully becoming who we are begins with where we are, actually, at this point in our lives. If they can see goodness and courage in us, why can’t we?

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