The Codependent False Self: Hiding The True Self

 / 

, , ,
The Codependent False Self

The false self is an artificial personality we create to protect our actual true self. Individuals with a strong stipulation for validation or approval adopt false self-presentation. Developing a false self can be quite soothing as it somehow hides our psychological wounds, but in turn, it also takes away our ability to deal with the challenges that are the non-negligible parts of everyone’s lives.

Codependents don’t realize that they’re living from their false self. Because the false self isn’t real, you might feel anxious trying to be accepted by others or believe that they can see through you or are judging you.

There’s an immediacy and aliveness in living authentically. It requires presence. Hence, depression and feeling disconnected are signs that you may be estranged from your true self, which can be reversed by discovering what you really need and want and then acting to get it. The false self may also manifest as the façade of the pompous narcissist, the brazen or rebellious addict, and the codependent good boy or nice girl.

Most people function from their codependent false self. It has kept them safe, starting in childhood, and for some people, in infancy. The goal of codependency recovery is to uncover and embody our true, authentic selves. At first, people are usually baffled wondering what that means and how to go about finding and reconnecting to their true self.

Read: Unmasking The Ego: How To Take Off The Mask and Be Your True Self

Signs of the false self might be:

  1. Emotional numbness
  2. Feelings of inadequacy, shame, or low self-esteem
  3. Anxiety with other people
  4. Editing your words
  5. Dissociation – watching yourself
  6. Often feeling empty, dead, flat
  7. Imagined superiority
  8. Trouble regulating emotions
  9. Trouble connecting to others
  10. Fear of intimacy
  11. Imposter syndrome
  12. Depression, lack of motivation

English psychoanalyst and child psychiatrist Donald Winnicott first developed the concept of a false self (also referred to as our persona in Codependency for Dummies). It’s formed as an adaptive, learned, defense to the true self. Behind the false persona, people may experience emptiness, but most of the time, they keep distracted from ever feeling that, except, perhaps, when alone.

The False Self
False Self Behavior

Addictions, busyness, and focusing on other people are all ways to avoid it. Some people will accumulate worries, annoyances, and conflicts so that their life is filled with reactions to problems.

The False Self in Childhood

In early childhood due to faulty parenting, we learn to accommodate our caretaker, rather than express our natural and instinctual selves. This may be compounded with feelings of shame due to trauma and emotional abandonment. One example of dysfunctional parenting is when a child of a narcissistic mother withholds anger and the expression of needs not to upset or require anything that might burden her.

This defensive maneuver protects the child from being abandoned and the mother from the child’s anger and disappointment. Far too young for healthy development, some children learn to play quietly, not cry and realize that they have only themselves to rely on.

One client developed inflated ideas about her abilities and invulnerability, believing that she could handle anything, while at the same time feeling helpless and incompetent, just as she had as a child.

Psychoanalyst Melanie Klein proposed that a child must be able to bite the mother’s breast,” meaning that the mother must continue to love and nurture a child in spite of the child’s anger. Similarly, Winnicott believed that true autonomy and self-differentiation are possible only when aggression can be expressed within a relationship and the other can survive it.

The False Self in Adulthood

Later in life, many codependents live from an accommodating false self and/or appear to be self-sufficient. They become a pleaser and focus on meeting the needs of other people rather than responding to and from their inner, true selves.

In relationships with addicts, abusers, or people with personality disorders, they meet their partner’s needs hoping that their needs will be filled in return, which never happens. However, due to trauma bonding, compliance can become a duty, although codependents get addicted to relentlessly trying.

Read: What Is Trauma Bonding and How It Keeps You Stuck In Abusive Relationships

When we learn to follow directions to stay safe, our creativity and independence can get stifled because we steer clear of doing things alone or trying something original that could be met with disapproval. We don’t want to make waves and go along to get along. At work, we might fear taking risks and sometimes avoid taking on new responsibilities.

A blatant example is imposter syndrome when we feel we don’t measure up to the responsibilities expected of us at work. Imposter syndrome can also occur in intimate relationships when we fear our partner will see who we really are. The false self blocks the aliveness of real intimacy and leads to emotional unavailability in order to feel safe. We’re actually emotionally unavailable to ourselves.

Winnicott realized that a false self is necessary for some situations to fit into society. This is where shame has its proper place. We don’t defecate in public or talk on our cell phones in church. Despite this, a person with a healthy personality is able to connect to others and express his or her true self in appropriate circumstances.

Giving Up the False Self

Giving up a false self often involves facing one’s vulnerability, fears of dependency, and the loss of the illusion of self-sufficiency. On the bright side, this allows us the opportunity to receive love and get our needs met.

In good psychotherapy where you feel safe, you can escape having to hide behind a fake persona. A trusted, skilled therapist affords you the opportunity to express your true self, thereby helping you to experience a new sense of aliveness that should have been there from the start.

Uncovering your feelings, honoring them, confronting your shame, and practicing being authentic in twelve-step meetings, in therapy, and with trusted friends are steps you can take to loosen the strait-jacket that the false self imposes. Do the exercises in Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You

© 2022 Darlene Lancer

Written By: Darlene Lancer JD LMFT 
Originally Appeared On: Codependency

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a man be so scared to love that he distances himself from his love interest?

It can be possible for a man who is afraid of intimacy or commitment, or who has been through some adverse experiences regarding love to be avoidant of a new love interest.

What should be some life goals for a woman who is negative about life and has low self-esteem?

She must be aware of her strength and weakness, work on her defense mechanism, try to gain more insights about life and people’s nature, and formulate healthy coping techniques.

What do self-confidence and self-control have in common?

Self-confident people are sure that they can manage their emotions as well as external stressors, so they calmly process any negative feedback and get less tempted to react.


The Codependent False Self pin

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Up Next

How To Use Binaural Beats To Let Go of Fear, Pain, And Overthinking

How To Use Binaural Beats? Best Binaural Beats Benefits

Ever wondered how to use binaural beats correctly? Find the best ways to heal, relieve fear, pain, and excessive thinking. Your journey begins here!

There are a stunningly vast array of benefits you can experience from listening to binaural beats – a fascinating form of soundwave therapy.

When one of America’s most famous living philosophers, Ken Wilber, was asked what the average person could do to raise their consciousness, he replied:

There’s already a technology that can be used to raise human consciousness. It’s called binaural beats.



Up Next

How To Live In The Moment And Be Happy: 15 Strategies For Embracing The Present

How To Live In The Moment And Be Happy: Strategies

Do you ever find yourself caught up in the whirlwind of life, constantly worrying about the past or stressing about the future? But what if I told you that the key to true happiness lies in embracing the present moment? Let’s find out how to live in the moment and be happy.

Today most of us struggle with stress, anxiety and depression as we struggle to face the increasing challenges of the fast-paced world. This not only robs us of our inner joy but also keeps us from being truly happy.

So let’s explore the art of living in the moment and uncover practical strategies to cultivate happiness in our everyday lives. Let us embark on this enlightening journey together and discover the true joy that comes from being fully present.



Up Next

Becoming a Social Butterfly: A 5-Step Guide to Cultivating Popularity

Social Butterfly Meaning: Step Guide to Being Popular

Have you ever wondered how your friend becomes the life of the party? Ever wanted to effortlessly make connections like them? Learning the social butterfly meaning can be your secret to forging similar connections. 

In today’s world, being a social butterfly can make a significant difference. Struggling to connect in a room full of people can negatively impact both your professional and personal life.

That’s where learning how to become a social butterfly can be your beacon of hope!  

Social Butterfly Meaning

A “social butterfly” refers to someone who effortlessly thrives in social setti



Up Next

What Is Self Reflection? 9 Helpful Tips To Understand Yourself Better

What Is Self Reflection? Helpful Tips For Self-Examination

Ever found yourself pondering over your thoughts, actions, and experiences? Have you ever taken a step back to examine your emotions, motivations, and personal growth? These moments of introspection and self-analysis are crucial for personal growth. Let’s explore what is self reflection in psychology and learn some self reflection tips.

What is Self Reflection in Psychology?

Self-reflection, in the realm of psychology, is a process of introspection where individuals examine their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with a conscious and objective perspective. 

It involves lookin



Up Next

How To Stop Feeling Disconnected From Life? 7 Healing Ways

How To Stop Feeling Disconnected From Life? Best Ways

Ever find yourself in a funk, feeling disconnected and sad? Fear not! Discover seven healing ways to shake off the blues and reconnect with yourself!

You feel disconnected right now, perhaps even a little sad or lonely – or even like no one really cares about you or sees you fully.

Accompanying feeling disconnected, you might feel lost in life, like you’re aimless, bored, unhappy, restless, and have no direction.

In essence, you feel like a tiny island drifting in the middle of a big ocean, cut off from all signs of life for miles.

How do I know this? I’ve experien



Up Next

What Is Existential Intelligence And 9 Ways To Develop It

What Is Existential Intelligence: Ways To Develop It

Have you ever pondered the deeper meaning of life? Contemplated your purpose and the existence of the universe? These existential questions lie at the core of our human experience. Let is dive in the driving force behind these question and find out what is existential intelligence?

Join us as we delve into the fascinating realm of existential intelligence, understanding the characteristics of existential intelligence and discovering activities for existential intelligence. So, let’s embark on a journey of self-discovery and unravel the mysteries of our existence!

What is Existential Intelligence?

Existential



Up Next

What Are Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms? 8 Major Examples And How To Handle Them

What Is Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms? Types And How To Deal

Navigating through life is akin to taking a trip down a winding road with unexpected twists and turns. On this path, we face moments that push us to our limits and test our inner strength. It’s during these times that we lean on various strategies to get by—our coping mechanisms, which are like the tools we use to fix things when they break down. But it’s important to recognize that not all these tools are healthy. So, what is unhealthy coping mechanisms?

Unhealthy coping mechanisms might even make things worse in the long run. They can be sneaky, sometimes making us feel better in the moment, but in reality, they prevent us from truly healing and finding peace.

This article is