Are You Hiding?
Fish Full Life Reflections: November 1st
This may be a strange confession, but I don’t enjoy talking about myself.
Can anyone else relate to this?
Do you deflect questions from anything related to you? Or you quickly ask a question which would denote a long response from others? Or maybe, you just remain silent and let others talk?
I have all too often done this. I’m guilty of giving short, simple answers and then quickly directing a conversation elsewhere so that you don’t know too much about me.
While I do enjoy learning about other people, and maybe you do too, did you know this quick deflection is actually an anxiety response?
As I reflected on this habit, I realized I do have anxiety when talking about myself in conversation. I’m afraid to be known because I’m afraid you won’t like or accept me. If I keep the conversation on you and support you in what you’re saying, you’ll like me and want to get to know me down the line… or will you?
I think this is part of the reason I was attracted to unhealthy relationships in the past. Because I grew up with an overly critical and shaming parent, I suppressed who I was until I didn’t really know who I was. What I liked or didn’t like was dependent on other people. There was always something about me that needed to be changed or adapted to fit everyone else around me. I was never good enough.
I had become this person who had to make sure everyone else was okay, and then I’d be okay. And if you weren’t okay, I had to fix it. And then you would accept me and like me because I helped you. But really, you didn’t know me at all. You would just be the person who identified me as a “good girl” who was reliable and could help you with your problems.
On the inside, I was dying. My light was hidden under a cup.
For a long time, I continued to justify my actions and behavior with lies- I was a Christian, I had to continually give of myself and help other people, right?
According to Charles Spurgeon, “Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right”.
While Christians are to help others, how could I truly help others if I hadn’t helped myself? It’s like being on an airplane with a child if the flight were to lose cabin pressure. You first need to put the mask on yourself before trying to help the child. Otherwise, you would both be in serious trouble.
In my case, I was doing little to no self-reflection on why I was struggling so much with difficult relationships. I kept attracting the same pattern of toxic people into my life by trying to make everyone else happy. I had become a crutch and not a help in my relationships. I wanted to help, and I wanted you to want my help, and then I hoped you would like me.
But when you enter into relationships with this mindset, you often attract people who will want you to support them in their dysfunctional lifestyles- narcissists and sociopaths. You then miss the early warning signs and pushback from these personality types because you’re so focused on keeping them happy until it blows up in your face. When you show hints and signs of your true self, these people will criticize and shame you if it doesn’t align with their way of thinking and doing life. You’re then stuck back in the same relationships and environment you may have grown up in. It can be a terrible cycle.
As God began peeling back the layers of my life, I had a lot of work to do. If I wanted to attract healthy, life-giving relationships, I had to look in the mirror first. I needed to understand that God created me with a purpose and He loves me for me- the real me, not what everyone else wanted me to be. I needed to be confident and secure in my identity in Christ if I was going to move forward in wisdom. I had to learn to be okay with not everyone liking the real me but also recognize that the right people would love the real me. I would actually find the right people to be in my life if I let my light shine and allowed God to renew my mind with the truth.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2 ESV).
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV).
Today, I’m doing better with being comfortable talking about myself. I open up to people about my writing, my family, and my hobbies. It’s still a struggle on certain days (especially around new people), but God continues to help me in this process of building confidence in my identity in Christ. I’m thankful to have MUCH healthier relationships now than in my past.
Is this something you’ve struggled with? Are you afraid to be known? Lean into Your Savior.
He knows you
He loves you.
He accepts you.
He made you with a purpose that is unlike anyone else’s on this earth.
And He wants to bring out the beautiful, real you for the world to see.
It is only when you truly know your value to God that you can boldly shine your light before men.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV).
Thank you to my friend, Abbie, who recommended the podcast, “The Best of You”. Much of this blog post came after reflecting on Dr. Alison Cook’s message in season 1, episode 14: “The Fawn Response & The Hidden Root of People Pleasing”.