I’m a liar. I don’t like to admit it, but I can’t help myself.
I don’t like admitting my failures. Who does, right?
Maybe you’ve never pretended to be something you’re not, but I have. When I rationalize failures or pretend to be someone I’m not, it’s lying. Some people wouldn’t consider it lying. But when I pretend to be something I’m not, I call it lying.
I rarely used to let people see the real me.
The me who has hurts and heartaches and failures. The me whose fiance dumped her before the wedding or the me whose kid dropped out of college and wanted to become a bartender.
The me who sometimes lets anger get the best of her. The me who’s not always loving toward my husband or my kids or doesn’t like to cook or clean.
The real me. Being real means I don’t hide all the things I don’t want people to see about my life. I don’t get it right all the time, but when I do, it feels good.
Most of us don’t get much practice at being real as we grow up. In fact, a lot of us get practice at just the opposite: Pretending things don’t hurt when they do.
But hiding the real me prevented people from seeing me. And when people don’t see me, I can’t point them towards the good things in my life and explain why they’re good.
When I was a kid, I learned early on to keep my feelings to myself. Growing up the 6th child of 8 and squeezed between two brothers, I toughened up quick.
I thought hiding my emotions would make life easier. But it didn’t. It made life harder. I harbored anger and resentment because I didn’t want to let people know what I needed. Instead of being honest, I’d just get mad.
When I got married, I didn’t know how to engage emotionally, i.e. talk about my feelings or even be aware of what they were. I expected my husband to meet my needs without my ever saying what they were, which was kind of confusing for him.
I believed I couldn’t trust my emotions.
Emotions can be tricky, but they shouldn’t be ignored. When we’re free to express them, we’re free to live because we’re not weighed down by them.
They serve a purpose in our lives:
- They alert us when something is wrong.
- They give us an avenue to connect with others.
- They give us an avenue to connect with God.
Unfortunately, society tells me I shouldn’t express my emotions or at least not the unacceptable ones, and I shouldn’t have needs. And I’m weak if I do. But everyone has needs.
Admitting I have needs doesn’t mean I’m needy; it’s means I’m human.
Emotional needs are intense motivators of behavior. When emotional needs aren’t met, we find ways to extract what we need from other people, whether they’re offering it or not. As the 6th child of 8 in my house, I didn’t wait in line for my share of emotional needs. Sadly, I demanded what I needed. Imagine what a delightful child I was. Even worse, I took that behavior into marriage.
You’d be surprised at how many adults walk around with unmet needs. Have you ever met someone who sucks up all the available conversation space in a room? Or someone who’s always in the middle of a crisis? Or maybe someone who’s sick all the time. Chances are they’re taking what they need. Attention or love or acceptance.
When we have no way to deal with, heal from, or release negative emotions–either because we’re pretending we don’t have them or we’re not free to express them–we have less and less space in our lives for positive ones.
I want room in my life for positive emotions and joy.
God designed us with needs. He also tells us how to care for each one. You know, rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep?
What happens when we don’t mourn with the sad and rejoice with the happy? People hang on to negative emotions when we don’t grieve with them. And they feel bad when we don’t celebrate with them.
If you hold on to enough negative emotions, you don’t have much room in your life for positive ones.
So I decided to stop lying and get real. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. It gives me the opportunity to choose joy.
So join me; be free, and get your real on.
How will you get your real on?
Part 2 of a 2 Part Series: Living Right