Fake it until you make it...

Life can be hard, daunting and exhausting at times. Think about that job interview you are nervous for, the party you were invited to, meeting your girlfriend's family for the first time. Cognitive behavioral therapy practices can help you change your thoughts and behaviors to make things less nerve wrecking, anxiety provoking, gut wrenching and scary. When you learn to use coping skills you can work through your anxiety, fears, and self criticism.

"Fake it till you make it" is an English aphorism which suggests that by imitating confidence, competence, and an optimistic mindset, a person can realize those qualities in their real life. - Wikipedia

The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is for a person to learn coping skills to change his/her unhelpful thinking and behaviors in order to improve his/her mood and daily functioning. One of the skills that is taught in CBT is faking it until you make it. An example of an unhelpful thought is: I feel I do not belong in my chemistry class as I think that everyone is smarter than me and will think I am dumb. Faking it until I make will look like first walking into class standing up straight as if I belong. After I realize that I am safe, then the next class I can stand up straight and sit toward the front of the room. When I realize I am safe in the front of the room, then next time I might say hi to my neighbor in class. When I recognize I am still safe, then I might be able to look around the class and listen to how other people answer questions, even notice that they are not always right. Finally I might be able to go to class and raise my hand when the professor asks a question.

The premise is baby steps and developing the ability to reflect positive feedback to myself. In this example I am scared, but I push myself to stand up straight. After nothing negative happens, I can tell myself that I was safe. Then while I remember I was safe standing up straight, I push myself to stand up straight and sit a little closer. Again I am safe and I tell myself I am safe. This is a pattern of pushing my comfort zone and feeling the positive effects. It will feel foreign and surreal; however just like your coach used to say "practice makes perfect". The more you practice the more comfortable and real you will feel. The best part is, as you practice healing from your unhelpful thoughts and behaviors the easier it will be to address other issues. As you become more confident it will show and it will feel congruent. You can now discredit your negative thoughts because you proved they are not true.

Remember the words of Bon Jovi, "This is your life and it is now or never" so "when life gets in your way, I say, have a nice day". If you are interested in learning more about how the techniques of CBT can be helpful to you please contact me at beginwithincounseling.com.

Andrea Begin, LPC

Andrea Begin, LPC

Andrea has over 16 years of counseling experience in a variety of settings. Andrea has a MA in Counseling Psychology and Counseling Education from University of Colorado.

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