The Power of Pretending

You’re frightened. You’ve never done this before. You’ve put yourself out there, raised your hand, volunteered to do this thing in faith, hoping to God you can just make it out alive. You walk onto the stage, blinded by the light, all eyes are on you. You freeze for a moment.

Your mind is racing, reviewing hundreds of thoughts in a second. Your heart is racing, like it’s going to explode any second. Then you remember why you opted to do this in the first place. You need to do this, so to get to the other side of this, you pretend.

You pretend, act like you’re someone else for whom this would be no big deal. In that moment you channel the person you admire, who would pull this off without a second thought.

Essentially you become that person, like an actor in a play, in a television show or in the movies, and you keep going.

Nearing the end of your assignment, you’re starting to second guess. Did anyone buy this? Does the whole world know that I’m scared to death and I totally just made a fool of myself in front of all these people?

As you deliver your final lines, your inner voices are taunting you, telling yourself you are a fake, a phony, you just made a complete fool of yourself in front of all these people, and your life is ruined.

Then you come to uttering the final syllable, and there is silence; for a second that seems to take hours, then you hear the roaring applause as you exit the stage. Once you’re safely back stage, you reach up, make a fist and quickly pull it down to your gut and quietly but confidently say, “Yes!”

Pretending is a powerful weapon in your life’s arsenal.

There is a great deal of satisfaction that comes from conquering your fears. All you need is a good reason and the willingness to do what it takes to make it happen. If the going gets rough, you feel like you just can’t do it, and you are ready to call it quits, pretend you’re someone else with all the qualities, talents and confidence to do this thing. And do it.

Once you’ve done it… you’ve done it.

As a young man, this pretty much describes my day, every day. And it didn’t stop there. I became courageous, overcoming insurmountable odds, and if I ever found myself in a frightening situation, feeling powerless and insignificant, I pretended I was someone else who clearly would have the ability to handle this situation, and I did it.

So, once you’ve done it, now what?

Put yourself in a position to do it again, and again, and again, and before long, congratulate yourself because now you are a pro. Celebrate your win and prepare to win again, because you know you can do anything if you can play-act when necessary, through whatever you need to get you from here to there.

Some refer to this kind of pretending as, “fake it til you make it,” while in more therapeutic circles we refer to this as, “modeling.” Regardless of what you call it, it’s all just play-acting, pretending you’re someone else so you can get through it. Then keep doing it until these more confident and powerful attributes become a part of you.

People, who know me today, could never imagine the person I was before. And I’ll tell you this; you might not recognize me tomorrow.

I am on a path of changing, adapting to change, personal growth and empowering others to do the same, ever since I can remember. In the beginning, no one taught me this. All I knew was that if I wanted to survive in this world, I had to act like I could handle it, just so I could do whatever needed to be done to survive. That’s all I knew.

For me, it was lie or die.

And the more I did it, the more courageous I became.

Sure, I was still that frightened little boy inside, but I could do things in such a way that nobody ever knew.

All that to say,

When you feel like you can’t do it, pretend you can, and do it anyway.

You will be surprised to discover that it works for pretty much anything from nailing a job interview to falling in love. What?

Yeah, I knew I’d get you on the love piece, because nowadays, when people feel as though they’re not feeling the love (attraction or lust) for their partner that they once did, they just throw in the towel and find a new drug (love).

So, what if you’re in a relationship that seems to have run cold.

Pretend. Pretend he or she is the love of your life. Act like you’re in love, doing all the things and saying all the things that you would if you were deeply in love.

You know what happens next. The more you do it, the more you become it, and before you know it, you’re more in love than you’ve ever been.

Plus, look at all the grief, embarrassment, strife and money you’ve saved.

You get the idea… and it works for anything.

That’s the power of pretending.

7 Steps to Overcoming Shyness

People who know me today have no idea how shy and reserved I was throughout my early years. Life being what it is, I was invited to learn how to act as if I was not shy in certain situations, enabling me to thrive while others looked on. Now, no one could imagine my being shy, though I am still that shy young man inside, I am able to carry myself as though I am not.

If you’re like me, there is hope for you, too. Keep in mind that being shy is not a bad thing. In fact, just like these massively successful shy people, it can be your superpower. Like these celebrities, learning how to harness your presence in a way to not let your shyness hinder your potential is of great benefit in all that you do.

First of all, you have to understand that people who are looking at you are not as critical as you might think (this is a common misconception among shy people). While no one is suggesting that you not be shy at all, you will gain much self esteem and confidence from being able to master your shyness so that others need not even think that you are a shy person.

This gives you great confidence in challenging circumstances, and while you may have said, “Oh, I could never do that,” in the past, as you become more adept at controlling your public persona, you will find many opportunities unfolding before you as you hone your skills. Things that may have seemed impossible before, now are worth considering as potential possibilities.

This will take a degree of concerted effort on your part, just like I had to do, but know that it is so worth it.

Here are 7 techniques you can practice on how to overcome shyness:

1. Feel Great

Every morning, as soon as you get up, get in front of a mirror and say out loud, “I feel great! I feel great! I feel great!” Repeat this affirmation with enthusiasm at least ten times every day until it’s ingrained into your subconscious mind. If you feel a little self conscious to begin with lock yourself in the bathroom. The results will amaze you.

2. Look the Part

Look your best. Dress up more often. This gives you an extra feeling of confidence and self esteem. Feel good about yourself. On its own, just knowing that you look good will boost your confidence and reinforce with those who see you in your day to day life, there are things about you that are worth getting to know.

3. Act the Part

We’re all pretty good at putting on our individual cloak of invisibility. I use a modeling technique where I put on an invisible cloak of the personality traits that I need to have for the situation at hand. I think of it as if I was hired as an actor to act out a part in front of cameras and/or a live audience. Before I go on stage, I simply don my cloak of the character I will be playing and proceed to play the part to the best of my ability. When I am finished, I can put the cloak away (which may be after the event, off-camera, depending on the circumstance) and re-charge myself from any stress or strain that may have been subdued during my performance.

4. Take Risks

Take a risk at least once a day. I encouraged my friends to dare me to do something they were afraid to do. It’s very invigorating and conquering fears by taking risks helps you grow in confidence and self esteem. Start with small risks and fears and as you overcome them move onto bigger things. There’s nothing you cannot do. Be confident in knowing that change can only help you grow, and boost your self confidence.

5. Consider Disclosure

When you are engaged in a one to one conversation, or with a larger group of people, let them know that you’re shy. This prevents them from misreading you and they are far more likely to invite you into the conversation rather than leave you just listening and wishing you could contribute.

Many people, me included, find following a conversation in a noisy room difficult. If you are having difficulty – say so – and move so that you can hear. People respect honesty, and vulnerability and you will attract more honest people into your life as a result.

If you are finding yourself uncomfortable in a public speaking-type of venue, just announce that you are uncomfortable and inexperienced in the beginning and ask for people to consider not judging too harshly because you are so passionate, you want to share your message regardless of your public presentation expertise. They will honor your ability to take on such a challenge and listen more intently.

6. Reject Fear of Rejection

Rejection is a fact of life that everyone experiences. It is rarely you that is being rejected. If you are rejected, for example if you ask someone for a date, remember that everyone has different likes and dislikes. You may be attracted to one type of person and not others. The same applies to other people and you are probably just not their type. That does not devalue you in any way. Accept this and know that you will get over it. Never take it personally and keep in mind that if people reject you it is because of their own likes and dislikes and not because of whom you are. You are equally entitled to reject others because of your likes and dislikes.

7. Take Action

Engage in activities that make you feel excited and good about yourself or start a hobby that gives you a feeling of relaxation. This could be anything from gardening to Tai Chi to Karate. Take some lessons, dance, learn or master a musical instrument or take singing lessons.

Volunteer for activities that you feel like you’re just too shy to consider. Practice, practice, practice. Do something that excites you and may feel a little risky.

Exploring things that you are passionate about or give you a sense of excitement is a great antidote for shyness.