The mantra, "fake it until you make it," is a familiar one. At its core, the phrase means be confident until it is actually fact, even if it's not truly how you feel at the moment. From a mental health perspective, there's a need for caution, because we don’t want to live life behind a mask, nor do we want to cower and hide until we are confident enough to no longer “fake it.” So let's delve into the potential benefits and pitfalls of this mindset.
1. The Benefits of 'Faking It'
Building Positive Habits: Sometimes, the act of 'faking' a behavior can lead us to internalize it. When we simulate confidence, for instance, our actions might lead to genuine successes which in turn can inspire true confidence.
Bridging Cognitive Gaps: There's a psychological concept called "cognitive dissonance" where our beliefs and actions clash. By acting more confident, optimistic, or happier than we feel, sometimes our feelings will shift to align with our actions.
Challenging Negative Self-Beliefs: Acting in a way that challenges our negative beliefs can sometimes be a pathway to growth. If someone believes they're not good at public speaking but chooses to 'fake' confidence and practices regularly, they may eventually genuinely improve and shift their self-belief.
2. The Potential Pitfalls
Ignoring Genuine Emotions: Continuously masking genuine feelings with a facade can be harmful. Ignoring anxiety, sadness, or feelings of inadequacy doesn't make them go away. They can simmer below the surface and manifest in other unhealthy ways.
Exacerbating Stress: Maintaining a facade can be exhausting. This prolonged stress can have negative impacts on our mental and physical health.
Setting Unrealistic Standards: Constantly striving to present an image of perfection can lead to feelings of inadequacy when inevitably, the facade slips.
3. A Healthier Approach
Embrace Authenticity: While it's okay to aspire to be more confident or optimistic, it's also crucial to honor your genuine feelings. It's okay not to be okay sometimes.
Self-compassion: Recognize your worth and be kind to yourself, regardless of your current emotional state. Instead of pushing away negative emotions, approach them with understanding and care.
Seek Support: If you're struggling with your feelings, consider seeking therapy or counseling. Having someone to talk to can help you navigate your emotions in a constructive way.
Set Realistic Expectations: Instead of aiming to fake an emotion entirely, aim for gradual change. For instance, if you're looking to build confidence, set small, achievable goals that help you slowly build genuine self-belief.
While "faking it until you make it" can be a useful strategy in specific scenarios, it's crucial to approach it with awareness. Will it hurt or benefit your mental health, this is a question you have to answer for yourself. Our goal should be to challenge our limiting beliefs about ourselves, without suppressing our genuine emotions. This can lead to authentic growth and well-being. Remember, the journey to self-improvement is not about wearing a mask or acting, but about unveiling your true potential in a healthy and genuine manner.
All the best,
Food for thought:
When was a time you faked it until you made it?
Did it help? Where you successful?
Do you agree this is helpful or harmful overall?