How courageous are you in revealing all your faces?
Moving from Stuckness to Flow
It is always the unhealthiest or most immature aspect of us that keeps us from living in physical, mental and emotional health. The unhealthiest aspect in a given moment emerges on an ongoing basis – we are never done… And that is perfect too.
We all have at least four faces, naturally they exist on a continuum;
There is the face we present to the outside world, often confident, perhaps even charming or funny, clever, together, caring etc.
The next face is the one we present to those we feel intimate with, those we trust and feel loved by. We may share that we don’t like being alone too much or that we feel really tired, confused and a bit lost at times. We also share our utmost delights, the tears of love and compassion for instance.
The third face is the one we don’t even want to own ourselves and often we don’t know it either. This face is highly competitive even with a best friend, is completely focused on me, engages in schadenfreude, manipulates even those very close and dear, does not live up to the expectations of how ‘I’ ought to be. We recognise this face through a whisper – that we try to ignore, sometimes it says; ‘I am not good enough’, other times it says, ‘it is not good enough’ or just ‘not good enough’.
It is the fear of what will happen if the third face gets out that keeps it in the basement and disowned. The fear sounds like: ‘no one will like/love me if they knew the truth about me, I am not likable, I am a freak, different to everyone else, I will be lonely, I will be excluded, I will be rejected, I will die, I am hopeless’ etc . This is the bind.
Often it is not until we get into the more subtle elements of self awareness that this becomes clear to us.
The final face is faceless or ‘no face’, the face without a story, the immediacy based self, the self that is free of attachments. (see March article).
Naturally all four faces make up who we are. However it is the third face that uses a lot of energy, as we constantly have to suppress and deny these aspects. In doing so we resist what is. This takes energy, just like when something isn’t functioning well in the body, it places extra pressure on other parts of the body, trying to compensate.
At times we may also spend energy ruminating around face two, but it is face three that tends to let us down by coming out covertly – through judgmentalism, withdrawal, depression, passivity, bullying, anger, destructiveness etc.
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear. ” – Mark Twain
I don’t think he got it quite right, it is not resistance to it – we know that when we resist something it persists. Rather it is about owning, welcoming, appreciating, becoming and being intimate with it – that is what mastery involves. Treating them a bit like the old recommendation of keeping our friends close but our enemies even closer… eventually they may even become friends but irrespective they are teachers and so are all our aspects.
“Behold the tortoise, he only moves forward when he sticks his neck out!”
And so it is with moving from stuckness to flow. We have to take a chance, be aware, be honest, first to ourselves and then one day we may share.
We tend to sort out our characteristics as good or bad and treat them accordingly, however… embracing our shame opens us up for humility and humanity. Owning our power makes us use it appropriately. Without fear we would be dead, and fear owned becomes a gentle awareness and alertness.
When we really get this idea we also notice how hollow the ideas of always being honest and truthful etc are. How can we be honest about what we haven’t acknowledged ourselves?
It is never about ‘getting rid of’ an aspect, it is about welcoming it. When I notice fear, I increasingly welcome it. Might even have a little conversation with it if it suits the occasion…. ‘Thank you for raising the alarm, it is ok, you just remembered an old scenario and reacted accordingly. Things are different now, however I appreciate you coming along and warning me, you are doing your job so well!’ All aspects as well as fear will increase their demand for attention if we don’t give the attention, just like a child. Give it appropriate attention and then all is well. Once the fear gets attention we are no longer beholden to it.
In order not to identify with the third face and for it not to keep us stuck, some programs suggest that we engage in endless affirmations: ‘I am wonderful, I am beautiful, I am special’ etc. It may make us to feel a little better and positive affirmations have their place, but we are missing the other part; we are also not wonderful and not beautiful, and when we can hold that in acceptance we are no longer prisoners of it. The method is a bit like spreading Lindt chocolate coating on a cake that we feel is off.
Claiming and owning the third face is easier when we know that we all have it, it is part of being human. Years ago I was so ashamed of occasionally yelling (quite hysterically) at my children. In my secret mind I concluded that I was a bad mother, and a hopeless individual. It was like carrying a great knowing that I was really unacceptable. It was very liberating to find that there are other people out there who are not perfect parents either… and it is liberating not to hold onto something we are ashamed of or that that has been labelled internally; ‘not good enough’.
And finally make sure you pick who you share aspects of your third face with, the right context and right people. We wouldn’t want the turtle to pull in its head forever…
If you would like to engage with uncovering the third face then join our Mindful Voice Integration groups or come and see me for a coaching session.