Many people spend their lives without an internal compass, feeling unreal, cloudy, or phony. They go through the motions and feel inside that they are just existing. Others try to mold themselves into the person that they imagine is expected of them, smiling, nodding, whatever they perceive pleases their audience. Feeling faux can be felt about oneself (internally) and manifest itself on the outside (externally). Some modulate and monitor the expression of their opinions, behaviors, and feelings so that they fit in with the expectations they sense others have of them. Others may conceal feeling hollow by being frenetic, filling up the space in conversations, planning ongoing outings, shopping, binging with alcohol or food. Being constantly “on the go” protects them from noticing their own emptiness.
From the Inside
Some people feel a void inside, an emptiness, an experience of being without anything inside. They may wish they could snap out of this experience of themselves and be spontaneous and genuine, but instead they feel hollow, without thoughts and feelings that are meaningful. They feel internally scooped out and are not sure who they are, what they think, or how they feel. Some people have trouble revealing themselves to others for they have no idea what to share if it is not “scripted”. That person because of lacking their own identity then mimics someone elses such as their clergy, parents and mentors. When these individuals achieve a merit, or reach an accomplishment that they feel that they didn’t deserve, this can reinforce their sense of feeling faux, as they may apologize for it or attempt to justify it.
From the Outside
Public platforms, such as social media sites like Facebook or Instagram, are breeding grounds for faux-ness. We have all seen those social media accounts with perfectly edited Faux-tohs, poetic captions, and locations marked in exotic, luxury, or far off places. Whether you’re seeing the truth, a half-truth, or, let’s face it, a sheer creation of that person’s imagination or desires, the point is that the person is living to showcase their lives for others, the epitome of faux. Sometimes they put their best “faux foot” forward, perhaps, trying to impress, coerce, or incite outsiders. They need others to tell them who they are and what they are worth because they cannot develop these answers for themselves. Demonstrating a picture of happiness, financial freedom, beauty, and children in Ivy League schools are some of the assets used to paint a faux picture that is appealing to the public. You record and exhibit your life through public forums so that people will marvel at what they think you have.
Faux-ness can develop from early childhood, stemming from the psychological fit between baby and caregiver. When a baby’s cry is misunderstood or worse, not attended to, the infant creates defenses (i.e. protection)- a psychological shell. A baby is completely dependent on the caregiver for survival and when misunderstood, the infant cannot make sense of or process his or her experiences. When the fit between a baby and caregiver is in sync, the baby experiences a sense of being held together and contained. When an infant doesn’t have anyone to put language to their states of mind or experiences, for example, “you are sleepy” or “you must be hungry,” they must use defenses to insulate themselves. In extreme cases such as neglect or abuse, the individual’s survival has been dependent on hiding real emotion or if emotions are discredited by others, they get confused about what they think and feel and what was instilled in them, leading to a fragmented experience of self.
Four Ways to Diminish Your “Faux-ness”
1-Noticing and becoming aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations is the first step. This requires slowing down and creating a space between your thoughts and your actions. Asking yourself, “What do I think? What do I feel? What would make me happy?” Asking yourself this is a good way to get in tune with your true feelings and desires, separate from what you think the world wants? What do YOU want? If there were no audience, who would you be, what would you look, act, and feel like? It is important to become mindful of the circumstances when you are unable to feel real. What kind of scenarios or environments do you notice in yourself putting up a front, maintaining a façade, and speaking or behaving in ways that are completely contrary to how you feel inside?
2- Doing things like connecting to nature, like taking a walk in the woods or by the ocean, are good for your emotional health while helping you to become grounded. The point is to connect to your senses, notice the sights, scents, and sounds around you; the very things that will help you develop awareness into yourself. Create a space where you have time to notice how you really feel and this will help you begin to develop real from the inside out.
3-Journaling and writing are other ways for you to get clarity about what you think, feel, or believe. The more you write about what you are experiencing emotionally, the easier it will be for you to express and know yourself.
4- In addition to the practices above often it is helpful to obtain the support of trained professional such as a Psychotherapist or Psychoanalyst. Much of what is in the way of you developing a clearer understanding of yourself is not at the level of awareness. Getting help to develop an ear for your own thoughts and feelings would be a start. Understanding what is unconscious to you will help you pave a new way.