By Dr. Marta Adelsman
Life Coach in Communication and Consciousness
(December 28, 2012)
Each day you get up to go to work or take care of the kids or assume other responsibilities in your community. And each day you may be carrying out your responsibilities wearing a costume.
Costumes come in a variety of styles and colors. There’s the one labeled “ambition.” Others have names like “fear,” “agendas,” “opinions,” or “hurts.” Over time, they combine to form belief systems that solidify into patterns of behavior — roles you play without being aware that they are roles. Without this awareness, you believe the costume is who you really are.
Others around you wear costumes, too. They may come at you with games that strategize, gain the upper hand, or outmaneuver you. The costume may use threats, rage, one-upmanship, resistance, bluffs, lies, pretence, or flattery to get its way.
Once you recognize that the costume isn’t real, you can make the choice not to relate to it. Instead, you can relate to the real person behind it. By doing so, you dramatically change the rules of the game.
I recall a time when I put on a “victim” costume in order to gain my husband’s sympathy. He refused to play my game and did not take the bait. Simply by saying that he didn’t want to go there with me, he let me know that he saw beyond the costume. The authentic part of him related to the authentic part of me, and it pulled me out my game-playing mode.
In her book The Architecture of All Abundance, Lenedra J. Carroll described how someone approached her, in a business relationship, with an attitude that she likened to a shark costume. The author refused to play by this man’s rules, which included various scripts and agendas designed to outmaneuver her and to gain the upper hand.
“We don’t have to go there,” she said to him. With humor in her voice, she added, “We don’t have to go through all the threatening and posturing.” In a direct manner, she went on to suggest ways they could work together that would serve them both. Her colleague dropped his shark costume and they proceeded amiably.
Begin to observe the costumes that others don in order to gain something for themselves. I’ve observed a friend slip into a “chameleon” costume, changing his colors to please the people around him. You can ask questions like, “Are you being who you really are right now?”
Observe the costumes that you put on as well. Notice when you manipulate, tell white lies, hide, pretend, flatter, or resist in order to get your way. Drop the costume, and directly ask for what you want.
You will thus remove posturing, suspicion, and judgment from your relationships. Creativity can take root and flourish, giving rise to authentic exchanges. You set a new standard of directness, honesty, and awareness in your relationships.
There isn’t much that can be more satisfying than that!