It feels awesome to stop pretending

Are you perhaps pretending…

  • … that you care about your work?
  • … that you love your partner?
  • … that you feel fine?

I’ve been guilty of each of these at various points in my life. Each time, as soon as I stopped pretending, two things happened.

First, I felt massive relief, because pretending is a form of lying. Second, I felt relaxed, because always being on guard to make sure I wasn’t about to “blow my cover” was stressful.

So, when we stop pretending, it feels good and it lowers stress. Let’s do it!

Well, there are of course consequences when we stop pretending. If we admit to our partner that we no longer love them, then—yikes. It will probably be painful initially. But in the long term, we’ll feel much better when we act in line with our truth and when we express our truth.

And that’s the key point. Pretending is a form of resisting reality. When we pretend, it’s because we’re not fully comfortable with reality, with the truth.

How can we stop pretending, then?

I’ll be honest: there is no quick fix. To stop pretending we first need to accept reality, to become comfortable with things as they are, and that’s hard.

Everyone (as far as I can tell!) experiences thoughts that things should be different from how they really are:

  • “I should care about my work.”
  • “I should love this person.”
  • “I should feel totally fine in this situation.”

We may feel very much not okay with a situation as it is. For example, we shouldn’t be sweating through our shirt from nervousness just because we’re going to meet some new people, damn it!

But if we want to stop pretending, we have to accept these things. And the best tool I know of to learn to accept reality is mindfulness meditation. If you sit down, day after day, and practice accepting whatever is happening, you’ll gradually get better at it. You don’t have to meditate to make progress on this first step of acceptance. There are other ways. But you can’t get around the acceptance part.

Getting rid of pretense is valuable because it feels better and because it costs less energy. Step one is to be honest with yourself by accepting yourself as you are. Can you do it?

Yours,

— Peter

P.S. Do you find yourself pretending things every day? Let me know and I’ll see whether I can help.

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