“Fake It ‘Til You Make It”:
A Surefire Way to Prevent a Meltdown
We’ve all heard the advice “fake it ‘til you make it,” and I agree, it can help from time to time. Faking it can involve putting on a smile, remaining silent, even pretending you feel differently, but really it’s about giving yourself time—time to patiently choose the best way to think, feel and behave. And often, in faking that smile or laugh, you actually end up feeling a little better.
For example, when you’re about to lose it on the loved one nearest you, it is obviously a better option to “fake it” instead. I do this with my husband, OJ, sometimes. When I am at my limit with my kids, where it feels the only options are to fall into sobs or maim someone, I choose instead the secret third option: to find OJ and engage in an obviously fake, deep belly laugh, like Santa might do if he said “Huh, huh, huh” instead of “Ho, ho, ho.” It sounds so utterly ridiculous that I end up laughing for real and so does OJ. It is our little sign that we are at a cliff’s edge and doing our best not to fall, be pushed over, or voluntarily leap to our demise below. Somehow laughing together, fake as it may start out, helps the cliff disappear altogether. Through “faking it” you can “make it” patiently through the rough moment in front of you to the next moment, which is usually easier to manage.
To Fake or Not to Fake?
The trick comes in knowing when it isn’t helpful to fake it anymore. Faking is a great temporary tool, but for extended periods of time faking is a shaky path, leading to greater psychological stress and psychosomatic problems like headaches, back pain, and toothaches. Keeping up indefinitely the temporary walls that protect us in times of stress builds enormous pressure, like a shaken soda that keeps getting shaken but remains bottled up. Eventually, something’s gotta give.
If you find yourself faking for a long time, it’s best to start letting things out a little at a time. Get in touch with your true feelings; talk a little, cry a little. Accept or ask for a little more help. Slowly turning the churning soda’s lid, you feel the pressure release; there is no bubbling over, there is no sudden explosion.
Find the “Faking” Balance
So “fake it ‘til you make it” but don’t fake for too long. You don’t want to end up with an even messier situation than the one you started with! Fake a smile, a laugh, a look, but don’t fake who you are and what is really going on with you. Instead, patiently get honest and release the pressure within; you will make it so much better for yourself.
~Excerpt from Dr. Hibbert’s Upcoming Book, “This Is How We Grow”
Do you ever “fake it?” Does it help you “make it”? Share some of your suggestions for striking the “faking” balance by leaving a comment below!