The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny. ~ Albert Ellis
I remember having a conversation with a doctor friend of mine during one of my lower periods that I know many of us go through. The conversation centered around a well-known psychological practice for people dealing with pessimism, stress, anxiety and depression. The concept is known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
CBT may be one of the most widely used psychological support for people suffering from anxiety and worry, due to youth trauma or other PTSD/CPTSD conditions. The conversation for me turned to how to really get to feeling comfortable back in my own skin.
“Fake It Until You Make It.” My doctor friend shared with me.
For some reason, this immediately made me think of one of my favorite childhood shows, “The Brady Bunch”. There was an episode where Jan had to give a speech in front of people and she had terrible anxiety over this. The advice given to her was to imagine these people in their underwear. In the now famous scene, Jan nervously goes up to give her speech, looks out to the audience, sees them in their underwear, and begins to laugh. She quickly finds herself relaxed and gives the speech too much success.
Fake It Until You Make It.
Was she really a good public speaker? Did it matter? No, that wasn’t the point. The point was to allow her to get through the situation that made her uncomfortable. It worked and it was a form of CBT. Keep trying and eventually your brain will decide there is nothing to be afraid of.
Fake It Until You Make It.
So, given that you may be feeling anxiety and worry over many different things and I know, because I have met many of you, I will try to offer some tips that I have learned along the way of my own journey to fake it until I make it.
Some people may tell you that you are being false. I say you are trying to be who you want to be and battling your mind to let you get there. First know you have to do these without judgement. Take that out of the equation. These may seem like simple tactics, but for those of us that suffer, we know it takes work:
1. Focus on your appearance
You are your harshest judge. You will call yourself all sorts of names. Forget it all. Stand up straight and confident. Focus on that. Force a smile. It’s been proven that even a forced smile affects your brain positively. Start to believe that you have this confidence and tell yourself mentally that you are.
2. Be optimistic
Worry comes from deep pessimism. When your mind says you can’t yell back that you can. Believe it and it will be. Remember that the glass is half full. Know it in your heart. Remember, no judgement.
3. Do something out of the ordinary
If you usually don’t talk, be talkative. If you are talkative, try being silent. Whatever you usually do, try the opposite, especially if it’s a social situation. Yes, you will be fighting your mind through this, but remember Jan looking out at everyone in their underwear. One thing to remember, you are not the only one feeling the way you do. Start to believe that most people feel the same way. It’s actually true.
CBT isn’t any easy process and you must leave what you have known as your comfort zone to start to head toward the “Fake it until you make it” level of work. But this is truly the way to become the person you are hoping to be. Start slow and don’t be too radical.
Here’s what I’m working on…being a better listener. See, I’m the opposite of Jan Brady. I can’t stand silence in groups, because I wonder what people are thinking or that something is wrong. In many cases, people are just thinking to themselves. I now look to be patient and listen intently to what is being said. Then, I try to respond more systematically today. It still feels off for me, but I am learning more and learning to listen more intently to what others have to say. Then, I’ve gotten plenty of other work to do. I’ll keep working my “fake it until I make it” work as I conquer each of these items I want to work on.
Please feel free to share your thoughts or even guest blog here on what you’ve learn. Just send your article to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to share it. I look forward to what you are doing to help yourself along your own road to recovery.