Okay, I have a confession to make. I really enjoy watching the show “Survivor.” I think it stems from my love for competition. (I can even get caught up in watching bowling if there’s competition involved. Well…) I also believe the people dynamic is a huge part of what I like about the show. It really is a study in both psychology and sociology. Okay, there’s my positive justification for liking and watching the show. How’s that for obvious image protection and preservation? Ha.

Anyway… to the point. On the last episode, a self-proclaimed tough guy known as “Coach,” who calls himself “The DragonSlayer,” had an emotional meltdown. One of his teammates accused him of being lazy while at Tribal Council. As a result, he literally wept on the shoulder of another player and was ready to quit the game. Why would a “tough guy” respond this way? Because his carefully crafted and well-oiled image was cracked and the real “not so tough guy” was revealed. It caused him to cave, and his insides were finally showing. For the first time, he actually reached out to another player and told him how hurt he was that they weren’t developing a deeper relationship. You see, his external image belied his internal reality.

Here’s the point… we have to be careful about believing the packaging people put on. More often than not, it does not genuinely represent the person they are. For example, the person who acts like they’re tough, together, and totally unaffected by others is often trying to cover up the opposite reality within. This is certainly the case with “Coach” on the Survivor.

Of course, this is important for us to understand about ourselves. But, I want to point out how important this is for us to remember if we’re genuinely going to be able to understand, help, and love other people. If we buy their packaging, we’ll miss and never be able to help them in their area of greatest need. Though sometimes, in the rare person, what you see is what you get. Usually, this isn’t the case.

In order to get to know people for who they really are, we need to discipline ourselves to stop automatically believing what we see them to be. If we don’t, we’ll continue to walk by those who have some of the greatest needs.

So remember, the packaging people put on is not always representative of the product of their real lives.

When you think about those people in your circle of influence, can you think of anyone who might be like “The Dragon Slayer?” You know… putting on a front that keeps you from seeing how much they long for and need your love, attention, encouragement, support, and help? If so, what are you going to do about it?