Pretense can be defense.
Please discuss. How does this play out in life?
I’ll start us out. We all make believe at times, hiding our feelings and identity behind a mask. We act nonchalant when we’re frightened, behave as if we’re tough when we want to crumble, seem caring out of politeness, let others believe we hold opinions contrary to our own. We engage in behavior that doesn’t accurately reflect our feelings or that we believe is more socially acceptable, do things when with others that we wouldn’t do when alone. We pretend so that we don’t seem weak or vulnerable or to avoid society’s judgment.
While acting as if can help us hold on until we can cope with a situation more easily, taken to extremes it can prevent us from asking for and getting help we may need. It may also lead us to bury our emotions, so that they fester and come out in unfortunate ways later. Behaving out of alignment with our feelings because it is what others expect of us can be equally damaging. We teach ourselves to negate our emotions and place others’ needs and wants ahead of our own.
Today’s message reminds me to be aware of when I pretend and why. If the sham is short-term and for my benefit—for example, seeming brave when I have a momentary lapse in courage—it may be harmless and even beneficial. Longer-term make believe can result in denial of my beliefs or feelings and is potentially soul crushing, especially if is is primarily for someone else’s good. Pretending to a avoid social friction or to achieve the acceptance of others is equally damaging when it is ongoing. Approval based on a false image is valueless. When I am comfortable showing my feelings and true self to others, I enhance my innate sense of safety.
How about you? When do you pretend and why?