On October 18, 2014, I was at Austin Zen Center to give a morning talk and an afternoon workshop. In this talk, titled "It's Not Your Job to Pretend," I speak about how we often seek safety by pretending to be wiser or more compassionate than we are. When we pretend to be wiser than we are, we allow ourselves or our inner critic to have unearned authority. And when we pretend to be more compassionate than we are, it is difficult to have adaptive boundaries with other people.While pretending can be a strategy to feel safer and less vulnerable, yet it also can leave you feeling anxious and depressed. In a fundamental way, when you're pretending, you're not being honest with yourself and others; you're not living authentically.
So, if it's not your job to pretend, then what is your job? I don't think I can tell anyone else what their job is; it's up to you to discover your own sense of meaning in life. However, I can share what I've found to be the antidote to pretending: to meet life with dignity and curiosity, and to be willing to experiment in how you respond to it. I hope you find it supportive.