Art: Stripping the False Self

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Stripping the False Self – Confronting the mirror and finding the real self

3rd December 2015, Prismacolor pencils on A4 cartridge paper

This picture was inspired by an insight I got from the book Scary Close by Donald Miller.

Don talked about a diagram with three circles. The inside circle represents the true Self—who we really are. The middle circle represents shame, which causes us to think there’s something wrong with who we are. The outside circle is the false self we create (often subconsciously) to cover the shame.

We can think this outside circle is our personality but the things in this circle are roles we play—defence mechanisms to protect ourselves. We use these defence mechanisms because we think they make us someone.

This made me question what I used to cover up. For me it would be intelligence, morality, achievement, perfection, and niceness. Looking at my diagram looks like looking in the mirror—the me I present to the world to be liked. But the real me doesn’t know everything, gets things wrong, fails, doesn’t have everything together, and can’t please everyone. So I hid the real me because my shame made me think I was unlovable.

Subconsciously, I thought the things in my outside circle would make me someone who was lovable. While the things in my outside circle might not necessarily be bad things, they become bad when I think I get my identity and worth from them. I want to strip away the outside circle and be okay with showing the real me.

The diagram made me think about how a lot of people might be walking around with an outer circle around them and they’re telling the world this is who they are. I want to let them know they don’t need the false self. They’re real self is loved and worthy.


8 thoughts on “Art: Stripping the False Self

  1. My outer circle would look very much like yours…I wonder if that is why I feel really pulled into your writings…it’s like you are describing me a lot of the time, and I really identify with it…interesting…Thanks for sharing!


  2. Your outside circle does not appear to only contain things to hide shame, they appear to be qualities of your true self as well. I would consider intelligence, morality, achievement and niceness to be a part of my core self and not qualities to hide any shame.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, yep, I was going to write about that, but decided to stick with one focus. I love the heart of the qualities, but for me I just have to remember those qualities don’t give me my identity or worth. I can have them and love them, but as soon as I rely on them for approval, then I’ve crossed into dangerous territory.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Truer blog hasn’t been written. Oddly enough, I have been thinking along these lines for a while now. After reading this, I figured that even though I have been aware of my circle system since long, getting rid of it is one of the hardest inner battles. Ironically, we find it most difficult to be ourselves than being anything or anyone else.

    Your blog is lovely, by the way.


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