You reveal what you hide when you need to hide it the most. Long suppressed and hidden, the darkness within you oozes out of the concealed pores underneath your light, flawless make-up. Your face of authenticity becomes feeble in comparison to the authentic mask of the dark. The ugly person inside you peeps out, giving you away.

Like everyone else, you have a side you dislike about yourself. The more you dislike the truth, the more you try to keep it away from public view. You start denying the existence of this part so strongly that it becomes an independent, rebellious entity in itself. Rather than your controlling it, it starts controlling you. You feel intimidated by its existence but can’t eliminate it either. What choice do you have?

Let the two people—the beautiful and the ugly; the good and the bad; the one that lusts for appreciation and the other that has the I-don’t-care-what-you-think attitude; the original and the duplicate; the dogmatic and the openminded—that you are accept each other. By accepting the ugly person, you nullify its power on you and create possibilities of making it your source of strength. How our weaknesses birth our strengths is a telling paradox.

Pawan, a partner at a boutique consulting firm, had deep insecurities and an obsessive need to hide them. If he noticed the slightest of change in people’s facial expressions during his interactions, he would feel worried about the impression he would have created. His overconfidence would often come in conflict with his hidden insecurity. His efforts to appear confident would have the reverse effect on his colleagues, who, by then, knew how to leverage his insecurities. They would throw a doubtful expression at him, maintain a strategic silence, or praise other partners to disturb his peace of mind. To be disliked or considered less was his nightmare, and to please them, he would dole out a freebie, bonus, promotion, or leave, depending on his insecurity quotient on that day. It reached a peak as he started spending his own money to buy people’s approval. When his bank balance took a massive hit, further worsened by no progress in his career, he realized that he had to stop. Stop did he but relapsed in a week, neutralizing all the confidence he had built by resisting his insecurities. It didn’t take him long to identify his self-destructive patterns.

Though Pawan was aware of his problem, it cost him a major setback to acknowledge his deep insecurities. We worked together to enable his insecurity to be friends with his outer confidence. Pawan, over a period of 16 months, channeled his insecurities into creating extraordinarily rare output at work. With rigorous practice, he transformed his tendency to read expressions into a powerful capacity to objectively empathize with people. He earned recognition and respect.

Pawan still feels insecure but now this insecurity fuels value creation for him.

*Name has been changed to protect the identity.

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