Forming False Personality

[from the archives]

I recently received an unexpected message from a friend I haven’t seen since high school. He said his message was long overdue. He wanted to apologize for something he remembers saying to me way back then that he felt was unkind. I don’t remember him saying it, but as I sent along my full forgiveness toward him, I took the opportunity to send him an apology of my own. I remember the self-centered way I viewed my relationships back then. I remember how I used him to try and get approval for myself, and how I falsely blamed him because I never felt approved of enough.

Our brief grown-up discussion of our teenage years together has set me to thinking about how we develop our fleshly ways of relating that carry forward through our continued relational habits unless we are brought to the truth of their sinful selfish nature.

I thought of him as a popular leader among our group of peers, and a close friend of people I admired. He was “IN”.  At the same time I thought of myself as never measuring up, an outcast, one on the edge of things, just barely tolerated. I was “OUT” and constantly afraid of being rejected by him in our interactions. This was my false personality at work, my own set of twisted self-seeking attitudes, intentions, and motivations.

He thought of me as talented, comfortable with myself, and warm, but he also knew I had the ability to shred others, and he was afraid of being rejected by me. He said he saw himself as hurt and off-the-charts insecure.

We were basically doing what kids do with their peers. We were using each other in a vain attempt to secure our own worth in our own eyes, each having a twisted notion of ourselves and each other. This process takes a great deal of emotional energy and thought life, and as I look back, ALL my memories carry the taint of this fleshly (self-seeking) behavior. My memories of childhood and high school events are all categorized in my mind according to who seemed to like me and who didn’t.

This universal fleshly way is no different in the times we’re in now where we are the parents of kids and teenagers who are wired through their sinful nature to doing the very same thing if we do not intervene in the attitudes (way of viewing things), intentions (desired outcomes of behavior) and motivations (reasons for behavior) of their hearts.

I remember when I first heard Marilyn speak about the way our fleshly false personality develops. I summed up what she was saying in peer influence. As revelation dawned on me, I was flooded with urgency. “I’ve got to get my kids out of this process NOW!” I thought to myself.

I examined the activities of our lives where I had placed my children in frequent association with their peers, surrendering my influence in their hearts to the dictates of their own flesh as they used their peers to form their own twisted false personality. I sought the Lord for his timing in bringing these activities and commitments to an end. In the mean time, since I was already dealing the death blow to my own false personality, I was able to accurately address the budding false-personality in my 14, 13 and 10 yr old kids.

I began to be much more present to their interaction with their peers. I had already been in the building, but I became conscious and attentive to their body language, their actions and their words while with their peers. Because I was looking for the activity of self-seeking false personality, I saw it everywhere in this group of kids, not only in my own, but in everyone else’s kids. I began to feel all the more urgent to get my kids out of it.

I saw clearly how my kids’ responses to this peer influence was forming their character toward self-seeking sin. In my next blog, I’ll write more specifically about how I addressed this in my kids, and helped them to overcome their own fleshly ways.

Our kids don’t have to grow up with the internal tortures and emotional torment of fleshly (self-serving) false personality, only to wait until their mid-forties or later or never to realize the hurt and death of relationship caused by their ways. How overwhelmed and thankful I am that God has brought me to repentance, rescued me and saved me from that life of flesh, and wrapped my life with the glory of his amazing love working in the hearts of my whole family.

This series continues here.

[originally posted September 2010]

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  1. Renee Arnold
    Posted September 7, 2010 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    I look forward to seeing what more you will say on this. The topic of false personalities is one that I know I need to get, but am still having trouble wrapping my mind around. Thank you! :)

  2. Posted September 7, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    I like this topic, Barbie. Thank you for sharing from your past personal life. Throughout the years as we experienced many relationships outside our family, I could see that the heart-level standards some Christians had for their relating practices were not always holy. Sometimes it’s even hard to believe people are Christians due to the self-centeredness in their relating practices. There’s so often a hidden agenda that’s more important than the relationships itself. Generosity of heart is almost a lost art in our families and churches. Grace and understanding of one another that brings us into unity.

    As Barbie said we are already wired through our sinful nature toward the unique attitudes (thought processes), intentions (desired outcomes of behavior) and motivations (reasons for behavior) of our hearts. Our internal heart activity forms our relating habits and patterns and dictates our relational health. All of our pre-disposed responses to other people were formed in childhood when we weren’t with our parents and were left to find ways to build defenses against being hurt, rejected, misunderstood, and so on. Without a parent’s constant attention and instruction, no child will possess the inner strength and all the needed proper responses to outward stimuli. Thus, false personalities form and cover up the true self, turning character away from becoming Christlike.

    The amazing truth is that children can grow up to become teenagers who are mature in their relating habits and practices, mature in their character, and able to make wise and healthy relational decisions—true to their real personality and true to Christlike qualities. My children did so and continue to do so, but many Christians still think that certain “stages” are common for all ages of children and to be expected. The only reason they are common is due to undiscipled hearts, which is an activity the church doesn’t concern itself with and parents apparently do not either.

    Don’t believe the lie that lack of unity and harmony is acceptable in any relationship. Lack of understanding or willingness to come into understanding is the primary cause of broken relationships. Healing relationships in love always means talking about “sacred cows” and exposing ingrained thought-processes that formed existing wrong attitudes, intentions, and motivations.

    Do the hard work of making your relationships healthy and holy! It can be an upsetting season, but Jesus makes it worth living a TRUE life!

    • Hannelie
      Posted August 27, 2012 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      Thank you Marilyn and please keep on speaking the truth. Thank you for your sacrificial ‘ giving’ and sharing through all these years.

  3. Stephanie
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Barbie! This is the first time I have heard of false personalities. I look forward to reading your blog post so I can come into a better understanding of how to deal with this in myself and my children.

  4. Hannelie
    Posted August 27, 2012 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Thank you Barbie and Marilyn. I read your ‘ writings’ over and over. Sometimes I don’t understand a ‘ message’ upon reading it for the first time but after reading it and meditating on it – the light bulb goes on. : ) I print it out to read it, to think about it, to pray about it and I discovered – this is a Journey and we must take it one day at a time. Thank you so much for your time and effort to help us. Blessings

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