Do You Hide Behind Your Emotions To Make Other People Feel Comfortable?

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This post was written by School Mum Contributor JacquiD

My husband and I are sitting in the car after catching up with friends one evening. I look out the window on the drive home, a sense of regret in my stomach. I ask him… Did you think I talked too much tonight? No?… okay. Too quiet then…? We arrive home and in the bathroom I ask… Do you think I offended them by saying that?.. And if I said that to you how would you respond? Finally I turned out the light and in the dark turn to him and say, Did you smell my fart at around 9pm? Oh my gosh I thought everyone noticed and didn’t say anything!

This type of questioning is part of me. I have constantly battled with trying to make sure people liked me. I would hide behind whatever emotions I was feeling to make others feel comfortable and more relaxed. Well at least that’s what I thought I was doing…

I discovered a few years ago, that this questioning wasn’t about others and keeping them happy but about me.  It was based on the fear that someone might “see” me. I had developed from childhood a fear that if I said what I really thought people would not like me as much. I also had a long run of successful accomplishments at school and the workplace to prove that hiding worked. The feelings of regret that ensued when the real me showed up and somebody disapproved, or didn’t meet me in that moment or didn’t notice me were not worth it. To everyone else I was a success story but underneath it all I was feeling lost and broken.  

When I had children however I felt I could not hide anymore. A conscious awakening began as I found it difficult to keep my children’s life’s perfect all the time. I could not control my children’s emotions and needs. There they were in all their glory! They needed the right this and that and I felt the need to appear as Super Mum so that other Mums would not see my failings. I told myself that I was the only one struggling. This proved to be increasingly difficult and brought me to a very dark place.

Social work researcher Brene Brown refers to these feelings of fear as relating to shame. Shame is ultimately the fear of disconnection. We all experience it. My difficulties lay in the threat of being disconnected from those I cared about the most.

Two years ago I decided to step into my shame and experience vulnerability by reflecting on my past to discover why my shame was so intense, to grieve it. I then discovered what it meant to feel worthy and lovable. I began to practice self-compassion. I was more honest in relationships and allowed my true self to rise to the surface. Vulnerability isn’t easy but it’s a wonderful thing to show our children and to have real, open and honest relationships.

I can’t say I always get the response I want when I am vulnerable. I still experience a certain degree of anxiety or fear in situations, yes even with those sneaky SBD pop offs. But I do experience a deeper connection spiritually and emotionally with those I love. The journey is totally worth it.

To quote Brene Brown:

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness. 

More information

There are some great You Tube Clips, TED talks and books on vulnerability. Brene Brown is a social work researcher who has spent most of her academic life researching shame, vulnerability and wholehearted living and parenting. After watching Brene’s TED talk on the power of vulnerability I started a long, hard journey of what it means to be vulnerable and live a wholehearted life. brenebrown.com

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Being a mum to 3 kids (one of them full time at home with me) and trying to juggle everything became pretty crazy.

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