The old adage, “fake it till you make it” might not be bad advice, if done right. Aristotle first encouraged this theory when he promoted the idea that if a person acts virtuous, he will eventually become virtuous. It was added to Alcoholic Anonymous’ teachings when it was used to encourage and give newcomers the confidence to stay in the program. Implying that if you stay with the AA routine long enough, even if you’re just pretending you agree with the concepts, it will work.
Another way to phrase it could be,
Practice makes perfect.
Your head and heart will follow your feet.
“Act as if…”
All are meant to encourage a pattern of behaviors that better serve our overall health and happiness. By faking specific actions we want to eventually make genuine, we can experience positive feelings that as part of the act encourage real growth and eventually action.
In behavioral psychology it’s often used to help loosen depression’s grip by encouraging people to act opposite to the way their negative thoughts are directing them.
The difference between faking courage, no matter the fear inside, or forcing the energy to meet with friends when you feel sad and depressed isn’t the same as faking the skills to invest people’s money or fly a plane.
It’s not meant to put a bandaid on the pain or anguish we feel.
It’s not a mask to be wielded when needed to function. If that’s the case, intervention is the best answer.
It’s not meant to imply you’re not qualified or deserving of your successes. We all feel like imposters at times. But taking the time to honor and accept the praise we are given for achieving a goal is important to acknowledging the hard work we put in.
It’s not meant to be a manipulative act that deceives others into thinking you aren’t the person you represent.
It is not meant to imply a skill or expertise you don’t have.
It’s not meant as an excuse for why success is too difficult or just out of your grasp.
It’s more a way to cultivate an attitude within yourself to encourage confidence when it may be lacking. Acting as if you are the best version you can be while you strive to achieve that goal.
This doesn’t mean presenting false images of who you really are or lying about your circumstances. Acting as if you can handle the job you’ve been trained for while still asking for help when needed is different than pretending you can do a job and getting in over your head. Or outright lying about things you’ve accomplished or acquired. Faking you own a Corvette till you get one isn’t the same thing.
Don’t know the answer? Nodding and smiling works for a while. It can keep the conversation going without fear of sounding ignorant. But if you have a question, it’s a good bet others do too. Having the courage to share yours may just be the opening others needed to follow suit. And all too often, everyone is feeling the same way. Sharing can help lessen the load and make us realize we aren’t alone.
Faking happiness even when sad, angry, and scared can alter how our bodies respond. Putting on a smile changes how the brain sees things and can help to alter the chemical cascade already set into motion. When we smile, even a fake one, the brain releases neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and feel-good hormones like endorphins that fight off anxiety and stress. As discussed in past posts we can not only trick our brains into feeling less pain, we can also trick it into happiness.
Our tone and body language reflect and mirror our behaviors. We’ve all had bad days, but yelling or being rude is difficult, if not impossible, when we smile. And others will usually stop and alter their negative behavior as well when faced with a more positive approach.
Next time you feel scared, unsure, alone, worried about meeting new people, accepting a job you know you can do, going out with friends. . .put on a smile and, “fake it ’till you make it.”