Survival Charades and How They Interfere with Authenticity

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” ~ May Sarton

Addiction, depression, and anxiety are both cause and effect of inauthentic living, as are all sorts of survival charades. According to The Integrity Recovery Workbook (IRW, D. Blackwood, 2014) many people have developed false selves in order to survive childhood – emotionally, figuratively, and sometimes literally. These false selves, or charades, become automatic or habitual and often in adulthood begin to interfere in, rather than support, living. And they definitely take us away from our true and authentic selves.

Some examples of survival charades listed in the IRW include: Perfectionist, people pleaser, bully, workaholic, rage-aholic, addict (to substances and/or behaviors of all kinds), super achiever, scapegoat, “good girl” or “good boy”, victim, hero, drama king or queen (and the list goes on).

Some feelings that these charades can “help cope with” (aka avoid) include: Loneliness, inadequacy, boredom, happiness, hurt feelings, grief/sadness, insecurity, fear, shame, envy, anxiety, rejection, guilt, stress (and this list goes on as well).

The issue is that the only way to get to our authentic self and to some peace in our day-to-day experience is to go through the feelings that we are trying to avoid (second list) and to dismantle – with support and guidance – the survival charade that we have used to “protect” ourselves (first list). Often, these charades become a part of someone’s personality – the behaviors developing neural pathways in the brain since childhood. As a result, we often need neutral mirroring (i.e. of a therapist) in order to see clearly what is part of the authentic self and what is the charade or mask.

Underneath the mask there lies a self who is worthy of compassion and support. As he or she moves from frightened and vulnerable to empowered, an authentic, unfractured self – whole and lovable – will emerge. The journey to that wholeness can be difficult and can seem impossible alone. But that is our mission at The Evolution Group: “Empowering the wholeness that lies within.” We are here to help.

Integrity Recovery Workbook

The Integrity Recovery Workbook (IRW) is designed to guide individuals through a journey to integrity, defined as a state of wholeness in which thoughts, beliefs, and feelings align with words and actions, through ten “levels” of work:

I. Awareness

II. Honesty

III. Shifting reality

IV. Reflection

V. Courage

VI. Action

VII. Forgiveness

VIII. Authenticity

IX. Connection

X. Integrity

Each chapter (or level) contains educational material on charades, behaviors, and thought processes that block individuals from the value listed in the title, as well as guidance to move toward those same values. There are sections of self-reflection, writing, and journaling. And then there is a suggestion of presenting the completed work to a trusted therapist. This work is also extremely effective in a guided group setting and The Evolution Group offers ongoing Integrity Recovery groups.