Could you be filtering yourself or your relationship? What we see is not always the reality.

Before Christmas, I had my annual Christmas swap with my very best friends. Fuelled by Prosecco and curry with Christmas lights twinkling, we caught up on each other’s news, swapped presents and just had fun being together. Soon we got talking about Snapchat.

As a group of women all in our 30s none of us had used it before and all assumed we were just too old for it! But Jess (definitely the most fashionable and up-to-date of us all) persuaded us to have a go - just to see the magic of the Snapchat filter. For a good hour we were hooked – all sat there on our phones, taking pictures, applying different filters, swapping faces and marvelling at how good we all looked.

It got me thinking that night about the power of filtering. There was no doubt that I looked better with most of the Snapchat filters – my eyes were brighter, the lines had gone and my face was more contoured. What’s not to like?

Well the issue, I suppose, is that it’s not actually the real me. It’s a glossier, not quite honest, airbrushed version. 

One of the dictionary definitions of filtering is; 'To censor (oneself), as to avoid causing embarrassment or offense'"
Michelle Hill

 Now I don’t actually have anything against Snapchat at all and on social media and in daily life, we all do a certain degree of filtering. We don’t reveal our whole selves all of the time and that’s OK, because we all like a different amount of privacy and we are all entitled to this. Many of us share different bits of our personalities at different times and have people we do different activities with.

But it can become dangerous if our filtering means the perception we put out to the world does not match the reality.

If we spend all our time pretending that everything is fine, only putting out the message that we have life sorted, that all our relationships are great and everything is ok, we run the risk of being isolated when we most need support. We can put so much time and energy into keeping up the pretence of how great everything is that we can’t allow ourselves to be honest when we are struggling.

I’m proud to work for a charity that supports people, no filter needed. It won’t matter to the staff and services what filter you may have used in the past, or if you’re filtering now, you can be your whole self with us. However glossy the image or messy the reality, it shouldn’t matter when you’re accessing support. People shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed or scared and have their presentation of reality prevent them from accessing support.

It’s difficult to feel like you’re putting on a front and it can be a lot of pressure, particularly in relationships. With support services, with TLC, you don’t have to do that.

Bring your whole unfiltered self. Or, maybe, your whole self with huge glowing eyes surrounded by a twinkling stars halo, that's great too.

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