Tag Archives: reality

Being Real Whilst Staying Positive

Authenticity is really important to me. I have learnt that it is where true freedom lies. It’s when you have realised that you do not have to maintain a certain image or pretend your life is better than it is.

It’s liberating to just be you.
The real you!
With your strengths AND weaknesses.
Your failures AND victories.
Your achievements AND embarrassments.

When you have nothing to hide, you do not need to fear others finding out about who you really are. There is no need to ‘impress’ anyone.

Pretending is just far too exhausting anyway!

“When people have integrity, their words and deeds match up. They are who they are, no matter where they are or who they’re with. People with integrity are not divided (that’s duplicity) or merely pretending (that’s hypocrisy). They are ‘whole’, and their lives are ‘put together’. People with integrity have nothing to hide and nothing to fear. Their lives are open books.” John Maxwell

However,

I sometimes wonder – How can we be ‘real’ without wearing our heart on our sleeves the whole time? Shouldn’t there be limits to our transparency? How honest should we be with people on a wider scale?

Is it better to sometimes stay silent?

Of course it sometimes is!

There are many occasions where it would not be helpful or wise to divulge EVERY little detail about our thoughts, feelings and lives. Personally, professionally and socially.

However, I believe we can stay authentic and yet still hold back, but it’s an attitude of the heart. We can keep information to ourselves and those close to us, without hiding or pretending. It’s all linked to having a humble heart. It’s all about our motive for sharing information or keeping it hidden. Having wisdom to be aware of the context we are in, and judging how appropriate our words might be.

“When we are humble, we are down to earth. No energy is wasted on pretension. A humble man can be taken at face value.” – Erwin McManus

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For me having a chronic illness means every day is a battle of sorts. It is the daily battle of positional (upright) unbearable headaches and other nasty neurological symptoms caused by a 2 year persistent spinal CSF Leak that we cannot yet find.

Most days I see people at my daughters school, in the street, at the shops or at church. And they often ask that daily question – “How are you?”

And every day I struggle to answer!

How can I be ‘real’ without launching into a long narrative about all the daily battles and challenges? How do I respond to the ‘how are you’s’ without sounding moany and negative?

And to be honest – do you really want to know anyway? Or should I just respond with the classic ‘fine thank you,’ because maybe I am actually ‘fine’ in a ‘but still battling a chronic illness’ way that day and maybe I don’t have the energy for a long conversation anyway.

But my desire to be authentic means I don’t want to lie either, I don’t want to cover over the reality. That is no good to anyone, because then I will just end up staying quiet and pretending and no one will realise how unwell I still am. (Which has happened before).

So I have had to find new responses ‘well at least I can be here today.’ Or these days I sometimes don’t say much and just smile at people with a ‘hmmm’ or I will say ‘I am not sure what to say – I am still not well, still waiting for new scans to try and find the leak, but I am very thankful that I am not stuck in bed as much as I used to be.’

Perhaps I should give out little cards that say…

“I feel unwell a lot of every day, but for now, I have had to accept it and live with it as best I can. I am better than I have been in the past. I have better moments and worse moments. I have days where I feel more positive and days that feel like more of an endurance test – than the normal daily endurance test of living with chronic illness and pain! But I also have so very much to be thankful for. Each day I have to learn how to live here and do the best I can to love others and help those around me.”

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I don’t want to moan.
I don’t want to only communicate the negatives.
I want to stay positive.
I need to stay thankful.

But I also do want to be ‘real’.

So for now I will try my best to be as authentic as I can. Without sounding like a broken record (because most people have heard all about it before). I will try not to hide so that people understand me and the condition better.

But how about instead of me telling you all about me – AGAIN. Please tell me about the real you too. Your victories AND your failures. Your celebrations AND your struggles. So that I am reminded that we are ALL human and all face our own unique daily battles. Yours might look very different to mine. But I am sure there is something that you are finding hard too.

Because if we always just tell each other we are fine. Then we will stay stuck with our own limited and potentially self focused perspective. Never really knowing what battles other people around us might be fighting too.

And that would be a shame, because then we will miss out on the beauty of true human connection. Connection that goes so much deeper, because we can be honest about our ‘whole’ selves. So we can listen and learn more understanding from one another too.

In the hope that it will help us to become better, kinder and more compassionate humans together.


To read more about my story of living with a chronic spinal CSF Leak click here.

Here is a brilliant 2 min animation about Spinal CSF leaks.

For more information about spinal CSF leaks please see the UK charity website at www.csfleak.info or the US charity website at www.spinalcsfleak.org.

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Breaking Free! From Pretence

Do you ever feel like you can’t truly be yourself? Like the real you is hidden away, pushed down deep, where it is guarded and protected. Perhaps only let out for the select few, those you can really trust.

Why do we sometimes pretend?
Do we even know when we are pretending?

I can remember being in a science lesson one day when I was about 11 or 12. I am not sure where the teacher was, because at that moment I wasn’t doing science.

I was hiding in a cupboard.

Why – you may ask?

Good question.

Well it was so that one of my friends could ask another one of my friends, whether they actually liked me or not, or if they were just pretending. The plan was I could then listen from my hide out and suss out where I was at in that friendship.

I can’t really remember what happened, in fact, I think it turned out that you couldn’t hear so well in a cupboard. Which was probably not a bad thing. Sometimes it’s best not to know these things.

But it is a question that can frequent my thoughts even now.

Do you ever wonder:
Who actually likes me?
Who obviously doesn’t?
Who is just pretending?

What about you?
Do you pretend?

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I decided a long time ago that pretending wasn’t for me. It’s too much like hard work. Not that I’ve ever consciously decided to hide or pretend. It’s just something we all do.

But however much I decide it’s not for me. I believe we all still fall into the trap of pretending, at times, for both similar and unique reasons. We try to show the best of who we are, whilst attempting to cover over the worst.

We all have masks in some form. We all have crafted exteriors that we put on in other peoples presence. We want to present ourselves in a certain way.

We may ask ourselves questions like:
Who can we trust with the truth of our lives?
Who do we let in to our vulnerabilities?
Will they accept us for who we really are?


We all have masks in some form. We all have crafted exteriors that we put on in other peoples presence.


Social media can cause us to put up masks, either intentionally or unintentionally. Photos with filters that show:
The Best bits
Great relationships
Gorgeous kids
Exciting lives
It’s easy to portray an image that looks great but may not be the whole reality. As I wrote about in The Insecurity of Comparisson. 

Does that mean that we should all put more awful photos of ourselves and share the ins and outs of our disastrous family moments?
No I don’t think so!
But we do need to be mindful that we are often seeing the best snapshots of people’s lives.

No ones life is perfect.

Let’s celebrate the good parts of people’s lives whilst being mindful that they are just that:

The good parts.

We all have good and bad days.
We all have dull mundane days.
We all get stuff wrong
We all have insecurities.
We all desire to look our best.
We all desire to be liked and loved for who we really are.

We hope that other people are genuine too. That they are not two faced, pretending to like and love us, when in reality, they don’t.

We desire authenticity.

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WHAT IS AUTHENTICITY?

Authenticity has become a bit of a buzz word recently, but it’s a great word.

The Free Dictionary defines authenticity as:

The quality or condition of being authentic, trustworthy, or genuine.

WHAT DOES THE WORD AUTHENTICITY BRING TO MIND?

The real deal!

An authentic product is real, not fake. An authentic person is real, not fake.

Pretending is exhausting. It’s stressful trying to maintain a crafted exterior. It’s much easier to learn how to be yourself.

Authenticity is attractive. It’s easier to be around authentic people.
They are not trying to impress or compete with you.
They are simply who they are.
No frills.
Not gift wrapped.
They have both humility and integrity.
They are not consumed by maintaining an act.

The problem is it actually takes a lot of courage and strength to be yourself. To be real about your best and worst parts. Your strengths and your weaknesses.


Pretending is exhausting. It’s stressful trying to maintain a crafted exterior


It certainly doesn’t mean telling everyone everything, or not being professional. We still all need to have self control. We don’t all need to wear our hearts on our sleeves. (That can be just as exhausting as hiding it, for you and everyone else). No one likes a perpetual moaner.

Sometimes we need to put how we really feel aside and get on with the job in hand. Parents, professionals, leaders and those in any positions of responsibility have times, days and seasons where they have to put their own feelings aside to do the right thing.

Which is a good thing.

However, having wisdom and self control in what we say and do are different from outright pretending. Pretending can actually be deceptive. Sometimes we need to face up to the reality of our lives and do something about it.

“Pretend less. Doesn’t it feel energizing to go home and stop pretending?” Dan Rockwell (Leadership Freak Blog – Refuelling Strategies)

People can be both professional and authentic. It takes a lot of wisdom, but it is possible. We don’t have to separate our life out into segments where we are different people in different environments.

We can all be genuine in what we do.

Who you are is so much more important than what you do, what you say, or who you know. Authenticity is attractive. —Brian Houston

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It is good to reflect, to work out what makes us tick. To think through who we want to be and whether we are living life in line with our values and dreams.

It is helpful once in a while to ask yourself these questions:
Who am I?
Who do I want to be?
Do I pretend?
How can I be more authentic, whilst maintaining wisdom, self control & integrity?

It is a journey that requires humility. A journey that will demand integrity. A path of courage and wisdom. A choice to be real and transparent …. Regardless:
Of what others think
What others say.
How you are treated.
How you a judged.

There is freedom in discovering who you really are.

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. – E.E. Cummings


This post is part of my .Breaking Free. series of posts. Click here to see posts on Breaking Free from Fear, Worry and Discouragement.