“FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT”–NOT THE BEST LIFE STRATEGY

Reaching by Darrell Raw

I’ve read, seen and heard this term “fake it till you make it” quite a bit the past few years. It’s supposed to mean that if you’re struggling with something, finding something hard, or just plain having a hard time and not doing well, you can pretend you’re doing better than you are and eventually you’ll really be doing better than you are. I think there is a tiny bit of truth to this if it’s meant in the same sense that C.S. Lewis wrote about when he said:

“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone you will presently come to love him.”

Perhaps he’s right that “pretending” your way into a virtue will eventually cause this virtue to become your true character over time, the way that a child putting on an adult’s shoes eventually “fits” into them. You can eventually “fit” into a virtue by practicing it. I prefer the term practicing over pretending as it sounds more like forward movement than putting on masks in order to hide ourselves.

Also, Tony Robbins often talks about how our physiology affects our psychology. In other words, if you’re feeling depressed and are sitting or standing slumped over, the first thing to do is pull your shoulders back and breathe. In other words your body informs your mind how to feel. There is also a lot of truth to this.

But overall, as a lifelong strategy, “Fake it till you make it” isn’t going to fly. At least not if what you are actually wanting is to be real and to be loved for who you are and not who you pretend to be.

It seems that what we all want is not only to be real, to be authentic, but to be real and authentic…and be loved. The part where it gets scary is when being authentic might cause rejection, disapproval or outright alienation. If you were raised with people who did a lot of hiding from themselves and their emotions, or if expressing your true feelings was met with abuse, rejection or invalidation, it’s easy to see why people find it easier to fake it.

Personally, it seems like more work to not be real than to be real. But I can see why people fall into this trap because maybe for the time being, it seems the better alternative. But as anyone wrestling through this can tell you, it’s not the better alternative. It ends up becoming a bigger and bigger hole to dig yourself out of.

My own frustration with being real is more related to the kind of responses I sometimes come up against which make me see why so many people find it easier to not bother with authenticity. Things like telling someone how I’m feeling when it’s not a happy-smiley day for me and then being either preached at, lectured or invalidated in some other way.

Henri Nouwen said it so marvelously:

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

So what are some solutions to the dilemma of wanting to be real, but also wanting to avoid being hurt, and more importantly, to be heard and be loved for who we are? Perhaps there isn’t any big solution, but two things that come to mind are risk and discernment.

Risk is part of being human and is part of any human interaction. We need to risk being hurt in order to have authentic relationship, friendship and community.  The important thing though is to make sure to bring discernment along with us when taking risks in sharing with others. Discernment about when to tell, who to tell and how much to tell.

Discernment is much like gut instinct, but even finer tuned. It helps you locate the line between your own fear and the need to take a risk and step out, whether that’s stepping out in connecting with people or stepping out in a new direction in life. It’s a divine gift and like all gifts, it can be cultivated and strengthened so that it becomes easier to tune into. The more you do, the better choices you will make in who you share your concerns, burdens and heaviness with. As you probably know, sharing with the wrong people can be worse than not sharing at all.

So tune your ear and heart to God’s guidance and choose wisely. Then take the risk and share your heart honestly and openly. The right people will be okay with hearing your junk. And who knows, it may even free them up to share theirs. That doesn’t mean we need to wallow forever in a “junk sharing” pity party, but it does mean that there should be at least one or two people in your life with whom you feel like the Emily Dickinson quote below. God knows how thankful I am for those people in my life.

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As always, let me know if I can be of help. Wishing you all the grace and strength you need.

If you need further help living more authentically, you can schedule a free 30-minute exploratory coaching call with me by clicking here and booking yourself an appointment. I would love to talk with you!

Monique

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HOPE FOR ADDICTIVE PERSONALITIES

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The other night while doing some research, I came across a man I had never heard of named Rich Roll (http://www.richroll.com/bio/). I was fascinated by his story of personal transformation. He went from being an overweight alcoholic to being one of the fittest, healthiest men in the world—all due to a change not only in his way of eating, but his way of being in the world.

It’s likely we all have addictive personalities to some degree. It’s just that not every addiction is visible. Just because our addiction is obsessive worrying, or nagging, or pornography, or complaining, or approval, or being right, or being the smartest person in the room, doesn’t make it any less an addiction. The sad thing for many with obvious addictions is that their shame is usually laid bare, out in the open, for all to see. If someone has an addiction to food and is overweight, then every time they go to the snack machine in the office and come back to their desk with a candy bar, that voice of shame has to be silenced long enough to eat the candy. Thing is, someone else might have the same addiction but be fortunate enough to be born with high metabolism so no one ever knows. The drug addict passed out in the alley can’t hide their addiction either. In Rich’s case, the shame of his addiction was compounded by the fact that, for a long time, no one knew about it because he managed to maintain his job while trying to hide his alcoholism.

But many hide their allegedly lesser addictions by the simple fact that they’re not obvious. Other “lesser” addictions are accepted by society and because they’re so accepted, no one sees them as addictions and, worse yet, glorifies them. Addiction to success and money, to beauty, to security, to perfection, to feeling superior over others via religion, political views, or knowledge, to name a few. And as long as they remain hidden and unacknowledged, they are also damaging to us and to those around us.

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The other, more uplifting, conclusion that can be drawn from Rich Roll’s story is that addiction is actually misdirected passion. All the energy, time, and focus that once went into alcohol and escapism were redirected in this man’s life so that now he is living out the opposite of what he once was. He’s using all the same tools he already had. He’s just redirecting them into something that feeds his soul and his life rather than sucks life out.

Let this be encouragement to you that whatever your struggle—whether visible to others or invisible, whether hidden or revealed—if you take the same energy and focus it instead towards creating what you do want rather than avoiding what you don’t want, you will likely see miraculous results.

Think about a glass of water that has a bunch of dirt in it. If you were to try and pick every piece of dirt out grain by grain, you might quickly grow frustrated and give up. But if you simply put the glass under a faucet of water, the clean water will eventually flush out the dirt and you will have a clean glass of water.

You can start today. One action at a time in the direction of what you do want. You may not be transformed overnight. But you will certainly be one step closer. You get to take part in recreating the story you are living by telling yourself a different story. Instead of focusing on getting rid of the negative things you don’t like about your life or that you want to be rid of, if each day you add positive things, positive thoughts, positive behaviors, you will be planting seeds to a better, more purposeful, fulfilling life. And you, like Rich Roll, might go on to be a world influencer and someone that others look to for inspiration on overcoming seeming impossibilities.

If you’d like help getting started, let’s talk.

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