There is a fascinating blog post I read recently on the web written by a former social media celebrity Essena O’Neill. A girl in her twenties, Essena posted lots of photos of herself posing in different contexts looking stunning and extremely fit. Now, she has come out and said that it was all a lie. She tells the real story behind each photograph and explains how the perception is not the reality.

In a world where many young people are increasingly judging themselves and the success of their lives on their social media success, her message is being described by many as so, so important. The idea is that we are being given a glimpse into what is really going on.

When I was a kid, I loved wrestling. I used to believe it was real. When I found out what was actually going on, I still convinced myself that it was real. I let myself believe what I wanted to believe because it was more fun that way. We all do this when we go to the movies or read a book. We let ourselves have the luxury of believing in a world that is, quite literally, ‘make-believe’.

In truth, the line between the truth and perception seems ambiguous at best since we create our own realities. We interpret the world and find our own truth. The confirmation bias in psychology suggests that people will ignore evidence that challenges their ideas and only accept evidence that supports their ideas. So, we walk around convinced that our way is the best way and the right way. This is grand in so far as it enables us to live happily and feel motivated as we navigate our way through the challenges of life.

The problem comes when we delude ourselves in a way that is not healthy or useful. When you convince yourself that people don’t like you or you convince yourself that everyone else is happier than you. When you convince yourself that you look horrible or you convince yourself that you don’t need to change a behaviour that causes you continuous upset in your life. These are all examples of our own lies sabotaging our own lives.

The beauty of truth lies in its simplicity. For when we are honest with ourselves, we get more accurate information. We understand what changes we need to make. We accept our own vulnerabilities and that lets us off the hook. We become okay with the fact that our lives aren’t perfect because nobody else’s lives are either.

Truth means we can face the world with a deep sense of security because we have no need to hide. We don’t have to continuously dread the day where we are ‘found out’ or where we slip up and become human. Being true to yourself means being authentic. It doesn’t mean that you won’t factor in other people’s feelings or adjust your words to manage their emotions. It simply means that you are saying something that is real, saying something that matters, and saying something that actually has an impact.

We live in a world full of information but not always full of knowledge or wisdom. Sometimes a thousand words can say nothing and a smile can say everything. The trick is to ask yourself the questions:

  • What do I really feel?
  • What do I really want?
  • What kind of person am I really?
  • What is really happening here?
  • What is the best thing to do, really?

The word really lets us get real. It lets us be honest. It helps us to dig deep and connect with who we are so that we can say to the world, once and for all, this is me… love me or hate me… this is me….and with that declaration comes an amazing sense of freedom.

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