Thursday, November 3, 2011

Putting Your True Face Forward

There's a saying to put your best face forward. It's a nice saying. It's the type of saying that encourages people to overlook difficulties and give the present moment your best, but usually, that's not how it gets used. In truth, I think people get caught up in putting forth the best face for society. It's not even their best face; it's the face that they think society will find most acceptable. In the meantime, your real "face" and all of your real feelings get squashed down under the internal anvil of repression, and we all have to realize that this is part of how we lie to ourselves and others every day.

Peeling Away the Layers--Stop "Making Up" Your Face
Most people play this game in society, but I'd love to pick on women for a while. I've already picked on men from time to time, so fair's fair. :) Let's start with make up--the feminine warpaint that ladies plaster on their faces to show a certain image. With so many people talking about how objectified women are by this culture, you have to pause and point the finger where it really belongs--at you. You buy into this crap. You cover yourself with goo and buy expensive clothing. You buy the magazines that perpetuate this objectified image, and then you blame men for being sucked into this imagery and somehow wanting it. You can be sure that I'm not letting men off the hook for buying the swimsuit edition of the female body with all the emaciated women that grace those pages. But until you take ownership for this face that you're presenting to the world, you will not be free.

And of course, the big question which I challenge you to journal about is this: "Why are you doing it?"

The Hard Work of Accepting Responsibility
In so many ways, we're a culture that is irresponsible. We want to blame everyone else for something. The spiritual path is a return to responsibility, and that responsibility starts with being responsible to yourself. Many of you have no idea what you want or why you want it. You're caught up in social programming, and now it's time to disconnect from it. You start that disconnect by wiping away the make-up and fake smiles. You start by expressing how your really feel to yourself. I'm not saying it's time to take the lid completely off in your regular life. You don't even know what's in there. It's kinda like opening that gag gift which springs forth a bunch of fake snakes into someone's face. That's you. So go unscrew the lid quietly in the bed room at first while you're dropping most of your make up kit into the trash. See what emotions, thoughts, and intuitions you've been suppressing. It will most likely be unsettling, but that's the start of taking responsibility.

Finding Your True Face
I can immediately sense when someone is being false to a situation. They may not be lying about something exactly, but it's like when someone laughs nervously to cover up being really upset about a lost job, lost relationship, or something else. It's not how they really feel. It's a mechanism to avoid that feeling. So the path to showing your true face to the world takes you through a lot of pain at times. It invariably happens when I'm in a session with someone. At some point, tears come up. It won't be because we're even working intensely on an issue; it's simply arising because there's finally space for someone to truly be themselves. And with that space, the deeper part of you--the real you--starts to emerge. It's like it's coming up from the bottom of the ocean and all the stuff, barnacles, sand, and water on top of it gets pushed up too. It's a very beautiful thing to me when it happens because I can see that real face coming forward, and a lot of times after it has happened and some tears have washed away the debris of pain, I can see more of the light in the other person, which is more beautiful than I can describe for you in words.

The Path to True Beauty
At some point, everyone got so focused on outward beauty that the inner beauty got lost. I know from friends and students that often as they go along on the spiritual path they let go of a lot of the outer pretenses for beauty. Culturally, they may not look as beautiful, but they start to have this very real glow to them. It's awesome. It is beautiful--it is TRUE beauty. You can't miss it. You may even hear guys remark in reference to women, "Wow, she's like really hot and stuff, but she's not like pretty." It seems like a contradiction, but it isn't. Your true face is so exquisitely beautiful. Once you start to show it, you'll wonder how you could ever have hidden it. It's like placing a gem inside a brown grocery bag and then trying to make the brown bag look beautiful. The bag--the external things of clothing, make-up, etc.--gets in the way of what is truly beautiful.

Guys, You're Not Off the Hook
Guys, you're getting just as bad. It's not just what you've bought into for expectations with women, but increasingly, we're caught  up in the U.S. in what I call the body-builder effect. Since the 1980s, men have increasingly gotten sucked into this image of the male body as incredibly muscular. Some guys are absolute gym nuts, and they pour tons of dollars and energy into creating that look. But that's not what makes guys handsome, and it certainly hides who you truly are beneath excess bulk that serves very little purpose. Equally for you, I say, "Why are you doing this?" It's an important topic for the journal, and I challenge you to see if you are actually doing this because it's what's in your heart or if it's how you think you need to be accepted by others.

Phase 1 of Showing Your True Face
Well, I'm towards the end of this blog, and I know I'll have to write another. This one ended up focusing more on the physical aspects of putting your true face forward, but so much of that is also saying how we really feel and doing what we really want to do in life. In so many ways, we sell ourselves out to show the face--the image--that we think is acceptable to others. And this face becomes our prison. Over time, you'll feel the walls closing in tighter and tighter. At some point, you're going to want to scream to get out. When that happens, drop me a line, and we'll work together to develop your escape plan, starting with looking at yourself in the mirror.
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