Acting As If
By Kenda-Ruth Stumpf
The word act in our society has a connotation related to a performance--an actor acting, thus the word often implies pretending or doing something artificial. But other forms of the word do not have this connotation: action, active. When a child is told to act your age, the speaker is usually requesting when we are in public could you please pretend to seem your age so that I'm not embarrassed by your behaviour. But pretending is a form of learning and practice; it is the process of becoming. To change yourself and achieve your personal goals, act so that you may be.
Act as if...
Pretending includes an awareness of fabrication, whereas imagining is internal creation without the inauthenticity of pretending. It creates feelings that imitate the feelings of your imagined success--the success you are acting as if you have already achieved. But feelings are never artificial and thus imitated feelings are just as real. Feelings are the means to breaking through resistance. Pretending without also imagining something to be presently real is not enough--the absence of imagination yields a focus on words and actions, when these are counterfeit this is a focus on that which is absent.
Children use the phrase make-believe interchangeably with pretend. Break the phrase into its component parts; believing is a state wherein pretending is no longer necessary, pretending or make-believe is a process through which we can come to a state of belief.
The technique of Acting As If recognizes that you have had a great emotional shock and the waves are overtaking you. It allows you to practice joy so that you can make it real. The idea is that you will not be faking it after awhile. Though it may initially include pretending, Acting As If is a conscious determination, whereas pretending that is rooted in denial lacks either conscious awareness or is a deliberate refusal to accept circumstances outside of one's control. Find positive changes and love them. Think in positive terms. Notice that in the above list I stated you are happily married instead of you are not divorcing. While they may logically distill to similar things, one is negative and thus the focus will be on the negative. Acting As If is about the positives; if you are unable to find them, create them.
Acting As If is present focused. The structure of the process collapses if you do it for something for tomorrow rather than for the present; to do that would be to validate and focus on your present lack.
Not all techniques will be successful for all people. For Acting As If to succeed, you need to break through resistance. Initially it is artificial and you may feel like an imposter. How long should you continue to fake it without making it? How great is the gap between your present state and the goal you are acting as if you have achieved? Separate your goals into smaller increments. Change what you are acting as if you have achieved.
Begin with smaller goals that are general rather than specific. These have an advantage of greater authenticity than specific goals which may be several steps away. Begin by Acting As If regarding something you already believe and work your way up from that foundation.
Acting As If creates a baseline for measuring your status. Once you believe in that baseline, you can grow from it. In the beginning persistent and consistent practices are vital; these facilitate the beliefs. If you still feel inauthentic after long periods, consider why you have not yet reached a state of belief. It does not mean that you are doing something wrong; you may need to alter either your standard of measurement or your goal which may not be in alignment with your deepest desires.