Family Matters: Acting As If

For those seeking to make changes, therapists recommend a well-known strategy, Acting As If. I like this approach because it implies that thinking can lead our feelings into a reinforcing spiral of positive change.

Published January 13, 2012 2:29 PM
2 min read

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For those seeking to make changes, therapists recommend a well-known strategy, Acting As If. I like this approach because it implies that thinking can lead our feelings into a reinforcing spiral of positive change.

 

By Jeanne Rollins

 

For those seeking to make changes, therapists recommend a well-known strategy, Acting As If. I like this approach because it implies that thinking can lead our feelings into a reinforcing spiral of positive change.

 

This is a great time of year to consider changes we’d like to make in attitude or behavior and then act as if we’ve already made them. The positive feelings and feedback we get in return make it easier to engage in the new manner, and the resulting cycle creates habits that reinforce the desired change.

 

When raising young children I often acted as if I was more patient than I was feeling. The more patient I acted, the better my children responded which in turn caused me to feel happier and more patient. When I lacked confidence in my professional life, I borrowed a mentor’s confidence until I could summon my own. The more confident I acted, the better I performed which, of course, led to even greater confidence.

 

It pays to think of people you admire when setting out to “act as if”. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a community of expansive and creative women. In the process of reinventing ourselves, we borrow one another’s strengths all the time. I try to keep an exercise regimen like Kim, while Patty aspires to pull a meal together for 15. I always loved the way Lorraine set her table and now it seems that others take note of the way I set mine. Tara admires Mary’s commitment to volunteer while Kate marvels at Jessica’s knack for poetry. Two local authors motivated me to launch a blog and write this column.

 

When others invest and succeed in areas of life that we’ve neglected, feelings of resentment can mount. Rather than succumb to envy, consider these people as role models and embrace their accomplishments as inspiration. It’s a simple shift that can make a big difference in our pursuit of unmet goals and a satisfying life.

 

Whether it’s a triathlon you’d like to complete, a degree you hope to achieve, a second career you’d like to embark on or more patience, gratitude, or time with loved ones, you don’t have to look far for good examples to follow or qualities to borrow. Once we start acting as if we are … disciplined, kind, articulate, generous, or capable, you might struggle to remember a time when you weren’t these things.

 

It happened to me: If I hadn’t examined the process of making positive changes for this article, I might’ve forgotten my long-gone fear of public speaking.

 

The author also writes for her own website, ziplinelady.com

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