Often we pretend a bravado that we don't really feel. It's part of the human condition to behave this way. This sort of inauthenticity is generally praised in our western culture as a kind of tough guy swagger, pushing us past our fears and weaknesses and causing us to appear heroic. I think it's dangerous in the arena of our emotions because it creates a type of split personality.
I struggle with this. I want to be honest at all times, and act the same with every different group I'm in, but sometimes I don't recognize my tough guy swagger until I'm deep into it, and only later do I realize that I wasn't being authentically me in the situation I was in. This creates a disconnected feeling which is all too familiar, and it leads to a sense of sadness and frustration.
Coping mechanisms take a long time to develop, and a longer time to dismantle. There is that moment of epiphany when we recognize what we are doing and decide to change one of our patterns, but then it's a slippery slope of one step forward and one back for the next while. It's important to be patient with ourselves while we are in the process of change, and recognize that we are trying to improve ourselves, and that it requires commitment, perseverance, and grace when we fail.
I don't like to admit weakness. Most of us don't. I'd prefer to be thought of as strong and not weak, but admitting to pain and fear is not necessarily weakness. I have to change my mindset in this area. If I am committed to being real at all times with my friends and family, then I must be able to admit where I am vulnerable and quivery, even if it feels horribly uncomfortable in the beginning. I don't want to pretend anymore, to others or to myself.
Being perfect at all times is not an option open to any of us. When we are growing and changing we are usually hurting, and it's okay to admit that. The first person I need to be honest with is myself. If I can't face up to my vulnerable side, then I can't be authentic and true to who I really am.
I'm grateful for the early warning system of our emotions, which lets us know that something is off when we wouldn't otherwise be aware of any discrepancy. I'm learning to stop and pay attention to these twinges in my spirit. Putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) helps me source out the problem so I can bring it to the forefront of my awareness, where I have the option of dealing with it, instead of ignoring the feeling until it burrows deep into my subconscious, lying in wait for another chance to trip me up.