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  • Writer's pictureAoife Ryan

Please Hear What I'm Not Saying.

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

Please hear what I'm not saying is the title of a very beautiful poem by Charles C. Finn. I will post it at the end of this blog. It is a piece of writing that resonates very deeply with me.

Everyday each of us will face a million and one threats in the world. I'm not talking about the big things here, the wars or the famines, I'm not even talking about things like, traffic accidents, violence, abuse of varying forms, I'm referring here to the little everyday threats that come at us, from those around us, very often our family and friends. The dirty looks, the snide remarks, the expectations, the judgements, the implicit conditions placed upon us, sometimes the comments that are intended to help us but actually make us feel worse. All the things (threats) that make us feel less then … less then whole … they make us feel that we cannot be our true self. They make us feel that we cannot show the world who we really are, because who we really are doesn't seem to be good enough for those around us.

So, instead of being ‘the real me’ we put on masks … we develop ways of protecting ourselves, ways of hiding. We hide our truth and find substitute ways of being. These protective ways of being may involve me being “cool and confident”, “aggressive”, “passive”, “the funny one”, “the perfect one”, “busy”, “sporty”, “musical”, “the smart one”, “the flirty Girl”, “the macho guy”, “the people pleaser”, the workaholic, the alcoholic, the high achiever… the list goes on and on, because we are extremely creative and ingenious in how we protect ourselves. We wear all these masks on the outside, while inside something else completely is going on. We are hiding valuable beautiful parts of ourselves. The masks don't feel like us, they don't feel good, they don't feel comfortable, but they serve a purpose and so we keep them on.

Taking the masks off, and being vulnerable is not easy. It is painful and at times very awkward. It requires safety and trust. Safety from within, and very often from outside (perhaps with a relationship mentor). When we find safety we can begin to explore those hidden parts of self. We can begin to unwrap the reasons behind why we needed the masks in the first place. As children we need support, love and approval from the adults around us. As adults we can support, love and approve of ourselves. We can begin to trust ourselves and build belief that we are good enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, happy enough, funny enough and all those other “enoughs” …. It takes time, and of course there are occasions when we will still need our masks ... and that's okay.

As we grow and build this inner belief we feel better about taking the masks off and showing the world who we really are. We are always courageous (with or without masks) and as our inner belief grows, this courage allows us to be more vulnerable, which in turn allows us to build more belief and shed the masks more of the time. This is the heroes journey ... it takes us from fearful unconscious surviving through to fearless conscious thriving. You are worth taking this journey for !

Most of us are crying out “please see me, please accept me, just me, the real me, just as I am” …. …. Please dont judge me, please don't set conditions for me, please accept and love me and all my unique quirks.

What a world it would be, if we could all just be real, be authentic, be ourselves.


Please Hear What I’m Not Saying

Charles C. Finn (Abbreviated version), September 1966

Don't be fooled by me.

Don't be fooled by the face that I wear. For I wear a mask.

I wear a thousand masks that I am afraid to take off, and none of them is the real me.

So don't be fooled by me, I'm good at pretending.

I give the impression that I cool and confident, but inside, it's different.

I'm not in command.

I'm often confused, lonely, and desperately need someone to understand me.

But I head and I don't want anyone to know.

So when I'm talking, please listen carefully and try to hear what I'm not saying, what I'd like to say but I can't.

I'd like to be genuine, honest and sincere, but I cannot without your help.

My trust grows very slowly, so you will have to be patient with me.

Each time you are kind, gentle and encouraging, each time you try to understand, I am given new hope and I start believing in myself in a new way.

You let me see its OK to be me.

So I can take off the mask and be happy in your company, I can let you see the real me. Who am I you may wonder ? I am someone you know very well.

For I am every man and woman you meet.

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