Faking and pretending – feelings, knowledge, status and more. We all do it, for different reasons, at different times in our lives. Sometimes it feels necessary. At other times we are risking our integrity. How to fake well?
I wonder what might have attracted you to reading this article.
Are you seeking advice on how to fake?
Are you at the receiving end of a faker?
There are probably a lot more reasons why you might have chosen to read this piece. Perhaps you are intrigued about what I might say.
Reasons behind fakes
To fake is to pretend, to make believe.
There are fake emotions, fake products and items, fake services, fake promises.
Faking can be a tool of manipulation, disempowerment, exploitation and control.
It can also be a way of protecting and defending ourselves or others, pretending to go along, of not letting on or in.
In that way we all may have our stories and experiences.
We pretend to others and others pretend to us. Ultimately we can pretend to ourselves.
To fake emotions and skills
People try and fake love, grief, health or illness, needs, interests, answers, empathy, enjoyment, excitement, caring, intimacy, skills, knowledge, expertise, wealth, status and much more.
Some people fake and then get so used to it, that it is hard to separate reality from fake.
Faking is a means to an end – to gain something – and if it “just” to be liked. Some people do it, because they think their real self is not good enough to be liked by others.
Then there are situations when we expect others to pretend instead of showing real emotions. In some professions pretending is not questioned, it is seen as being professional. And how re-freshing when the real person, and the real feeling shows through!
The news reader that is moved by a news item. They doctor that is moved by the difficult news s/he has to share.
To fake can also be lazy, disrespectful, a quick fix, when others may work hard to meet the criteria and deliver what is requested and expected.
And then there are situations when faking is essential to stay safe. When dissent, criticism of others and personal views can put us at risk – in abusive relationships, at work, in society.
How often have you faked to be ok, when you were not? Or that you are not bothered, that you don’t hurt (inside and out), you can take it on the chin, are not fazed, know the answer, are calm and collected?
And how often have you pretended in that way in order to protect another or yourself from a truth, which may hurt or even be unbearable?
Faking it to yourself
One of the most tempting and human fakes is the one to ourself: “I am ok … nothing to worry about …”. When underneath it all we may be frightened and terrified what the fear may lead it – if we face it?
We can live in denial for a very long time, and quite comfortably so. Denial can become a second skin, a shining armour. Until one day ….
If another fakes to you
You may or may not know when another pretends and manipulates you. More often than not, though, we do have an inkling, a twitch in the gut, an intuition. And often we deny it was there and ignore it’s alarm.
The downside of fakes
There are many, and you don’t need me to list them all here.
To fake for the “wrong reasons” can be unethical and criminal. If / when found out, there will be consequences.
A faker and liar is not liked by others. They have to keep looking behind their backs.
The life of a faker can be exhausting.
Do you fake to protect? That has its drawbacks, too.
If that is you, then you may not give yourself and others a chance to change a situation, acquire a skill or emotional strength that is needed to cope. That way you and others may not be able to grow in areas where you can. Unrealistic fear may hold you back.
Faking to protect yourself from abuse may be needed to buy you time. But it may not be the answer longer term.
Pretending and hiding true emotions can also cause a distance between us and others. And ultimately, it may stop us and them getting vital support and comfort.
How to fake well?
If you need to fake or pretend to others and even to yourself, then
- check in with yourself, that you do it for good reason and do not harm others or yourself;
- make a conscious decision with a start and end point;
- be prepared to explain your reasons for pretending;
- make sure you can live with yourself despite it, and that others can go on living with you despite it;
- don’t swap your authenticity and integrity for fakes;
- fake and pretend only sparingly.
To fake might be a temporary and strategic measure to buy you time, to protect yourself or others.
Pretending should not become a (semi-)permanent state of being. There can be a high price to pay. You may no longer recognise yourself. You may end up regretting a lot of what you do.
If someone fakes it to you, or you want to fake it to yourself – trust your intuition, stop and think.
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