One of the recurring feelings I had during my corporate career was the sense of being a fraud who was going to be exposed at any time. It was not because I was stealing money or clients from the company, it was far more subtle – a sense of having overstated one’s talents and clout, promising more than one could deliver and living with a fear of being found out.
Looking around, I realized that this is as common in the world of work as stapler pins. Politicians are constantly overstating their influence, businessmen are overstating their business acumen, celebrities are overstating their stardom. Even spiritual seekers and therapists sometimes pretend to be beyond their evolution. Almost everyone feels pressured to paint and then uphold a false picture of themselves. We don’t join the dots but the inevitable result is a sense of fear that follows us around like a shadow.
The funny thing is that I remember spending many months trying to get rid of this fear using spiritual tools and processes, but nothing seemed to clear it for good. A few hours or days and the fear would creep back into the system in a new guise.
My brother and mentor GD reminded me of this phase of my life on the phone today as he joked: “If we don’t stop creating false impressions, not even God can make our fear go away. Whenever we lie or pretend, there is bound to be fear. The simple way out is to BE and SAY exactly where you stand in this moment. But the ego, which has spent a lifetime trying to cultivate the perfect image and appearance, finds this terrifying. For some of us, being ‘exposed’ is worse than death. Because the false image has slowly become real… it has become ‘me’.”
“Most of us are not even aware of all the places in our life where we are hiding, role-playing, or pretending to be something we really aren’t. But one thing is certain: where there is deception, there will be some kind of anxiety or uneasiness. At those times, this simple question may change the game altogether: What is the truth in this moment that I am not acknowledging?”
As I heard GD speaking, I remembered the old adage: ‘The truth shall set you free’. But I wondered if I have the courage to speak it.
Illustration © Aalif Surti 2012