How layers of defence keep us from being our true selves

ec56138f 1afa 44a8 98bb c2bdce4692c9

How layers of defence keep us from being our true selves

Do you know who you really are? Do you feel lost or empty? If you met your true self would you like that person?

Think about all the masks you wear. You most likely present your best ‘self’ to work colleagues, acquaintances, wider friendships groups, and another version to close friends and family. No doubt you have a different ‘self’ for your intimate relationships, lovers or spouses and children.

These masks are versions of who you think others want you to be.

Just as a chameleon changes colour to blend in with the environment, we change, adapt and mould our behaviour to fit in, to feel liked and accepted by our peers, family and loved ones.

This process begins at birth. When we come into the world we are ready to love and be loved. As a baby we hold all the qualities and essence of who we are. If our home environment is loving, supportive and nurturing we learn to be trusting, loving and comfortable with who we are. If the home environment is chaotic, fraught, critical, aggressive, distant and argumentative, we learn to build layers of defence to adapt and protect our core self.

Relationships with two defended selves

In love relationships is where the cracks appear and communication breaks down. You want your partner to be accepting, to listen, to see you, to offer you unconditional love, encouragement and security; to be compassionate, understanding and supportive.

Driving this need for longing is the fear of rejection and possibly abandonment, because deep down you believe you’re not good enough. And that belief, the one that somehow you are flawed, exists as a consequence of having to adapt and compromise your true self to meet others’ needs.

As all this is going on for you, remember that your partner is also operating from their own layers of defence. The needs and fears may appear to be different, although at the core, the message running is – I’m not ok as I am.

Which one is the true you?

Take a few minutes (5-10 mins) every day to start connecting with you – a walk or a pampering bath, or simply sitting in silence. If you were to meet your younger self, the free spirited self before you started adapting to others’ needs, what would you notice?

Imagine making friends with that young child and letting them know you’re there for them, you’ll be loving, supportive and encouraging with no judgements; that with you they can be themselves.

This may feel very odd at first, possibly even resistant. Keep acknowledging that young child in you, like the small doll in a set of Russian dolls.

Notice what changes. It will be subtle and yet slowly slowly you’ll begin to connect with core essence of who you are.

If you’ve been affected by what you’ve read and would like some help, please call Carla Devereux on 0121 745 9044 or email on

Share this post

Psychotherapy delves deep into the root causes of your symptoms.  Psychotherapy in Solihull, encompasses a multitude of approaches, each offering a wide range of tools that help different people.