Throughout much of our lives, instead of following our bliss, we’re busy trying to avoid being seen a certain way. Perhaps we’re designing our lives to make sure we aren’t perceived as selfish, arrogant, weak, incompetent or something else. Whatever way we don’t want others to see us, the compulsion to make sure others don’t think of us like that feels overwhelming. Our anxiety about being viewed the wrong way can be so intense that it’s almost as if we’d be hurt or destroyed if others ever learned the “awful truth” about us.
We don’t want people to hold these beliefs about us because, on some level, we’re convinced that those beliefs are true. We’d have no reason to fear someone calling us incompetent, for instance, if we didn’t have a deep-seated conviction that we actually are. Not only that—we believe, consciously or otherwise, that if people discovered our “dark secret,” no one would want anything to do with us. We’d be left completely alone and helpless.