We contrive a false self as a strategy of compliance, but doing that can get out of hand. After a while our pretense begins to seem real and what we started doing to deceive others fools them less than we fool ourselves.
When our pretending is no longer conscious, the false self turns against us and our true self is betrayed . We project onto other people the unaccepted parts of our selves that we’ve been trying to keep hidden. We can recognize that we are projecting when we realize that we’ve overreacted in an encounter with another person, for instance, by getting outraged instead of irritated when someone is thoughtless.
With every projection comes an opportunity for greater self-awareness. Because it’s easier at the time, we tend to ignore what we could learn, but in the long run, our short-sighted deceptions make life harder.
We feel better when we are being our natural selves than when we are acting “nice.”