Many people look good but feel bad. They are chronically stressed, sad and anxious. They are lonely in their marriage and disconnected in their relationships. They know something is wrong, but have no idea what it might be. They fear, “If you really knew me you wouldn’t like me.”
Chameleons often behave so plastic, shallow, and two-dimensional that it is like witnessing an act. People wonder, Who is this person really? Why isn’t there any connection? There’s always this…distance. Everybody knows a chameleon, but not everyone recognizes it when they are one.
Chameleons believe if they were more perfect, then they would feel better, people would like them more, and they would not be hurt again. They try to become attractive in a way they did not believe they were as children. They feel shame, so they chronically alter their true “color” to protect themselves, and attempt to control the image others have of them, or impression manage. The payoff is feeling safe; the cost is lonesome suffering even while surrounded by people.
We are all chameleon-like. We behave differently in different roles to fulfill our responsibilities; this is necessary and normal. But when we behave this way with everyone then nobody truly knows us. There is little emotional intimacy, and that feels really bad.
However, there is help. It seems counter-intuitive that the best way to deal with “The Chameleon Complex” is to stop covering shame but to uncover it. Many people need to learn how to let down their guard around safe people in order to reveal more of their authentic self, and to keep up their guard when the situation demands it, and know the difference. Very quickly connection will result, and loneliness, sadness and worry will fade.