“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” – Kurt Vonnegut
If a pretense must be employed to make self-confidence seem more present and real within a person than it is, then does the pretending make the person more or less confident?
I believe that the immediate reward of pretending is a sense of confidence but not in oneself. The confidence that a pretender develops is in an ability to pretend. The usefulness of the pretense reinforces being false which doesn’t make a person more secure in who he/she is.
My motto on this matter is: Never pretend – Always protect. Never pretend to be someone you are not and always protect the person you are. When these ideas are together we get the benefit of being true to ourselves with the added protection we want which pretending seems to provide but doesn’t.
Never pretending means being you but it doesn’t mean answering every question about you that someone asks. It also doesn’t mean exposing parts of yourself prematurely to an audience (of one or more) before you have their trustworthiness established. Pretending is hiding parts of yourself and therefore reinforcing that there are things about you that you believe are not good enough.
Always protecting yourself can be a graceful skill of honoring some inquisitions and disallowing others because you know yourself and respect your need for safety. Pretending seems to be a way of getting around feeling vulnerable but while it temporarily shields our truth from an unkindness – it restricts us from being seen by the people who really like us and to whom we make sense. It also sends your inner child a destructive message (you’re not enough) which feels awful. When you tell your story keep the right to pace yourself and hold back whole chapters until sharing feels safe.
One Thing to Do: Make a list of ways you have pretended in the past. Then next to each item write down what you hoped the pretending would do for you. Did it work? Was there another way to achieve what you wanted without pretending?
Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.