Fake It Till You Make It?

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A friend sent me an e-mail after reading my blog last week about AHAs. In the blog, I shared seven realizations, including: Whatever I judge myself for, others will pick up on it, whether I try to hide it or not. So I may as well stop wasting my energy pretending anything.
She expressed confusion because she is also familiar with AA’s philosophy of “Fake it till you make it.” She wondered how I reconcile “faking it” with being genuine.
I think that intention gets us through this perceived dilemma. If we’re doing anything out of fear, it is bound to backfire on us eventually. When we create acts because we’re afraid of failure, embarrassment, humiliation, rejection, or abandonment, we’re always looking over our shoulder, keeping our fingers crossed that our act will “work,” i.e., get us the approval, respect, or love we are seeking. Inevitably, however, we find that the world mirrors our true beliefs about ourselves anyway. All that effort turns out to be a setup for frustration and eventual hopelessness.

“Fake it till you make it” isn’t about putting on an act out of fear; it is about having the courage and perseverance to practice new, uncomfortable, yet empowering behaviors that are self-respectful and self-loving with the intention of becoming the person we want to be. “Faking it” in this way takes tremendous determination because we’re stretching beyond our comfort zone of thoughts and behaviors that have kept us safe but confined. This kind of change requires an act of faith—often of the leaping variety.

If we act out of fear, “fake it till you make it” becomes just another excuse for being inauthentic. Based on an intention to be our best self, however, this same behavior will help us awaken.

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