If you’re in a bad mood, that title just might have made you gnash your teeth.
“A nice day?” you might say. “Let me tell you about my day, and you can see how nice it is! So much for this positive hooey!”
Yep, we’ve all had that feeling. A lot of times when I want to wallow in anger, sadness, frustration—pick a negative emotion—being faced with a positive sentiment makes that little voice within me want to scream.
Even though I know it works 🙂
So, the first thing I do is shake off the knee-jerk reaction. Because it is a knee-jerk reaction, no? Our attitudes from childhood tend to follow us into adulthood—the good and the bad. But we can change them—by acting.
So then, I remember the facts of this title. We have the science to prove it.
And then, I act to change my disposition.
Over the last 30 years, social scientists, through well-documented research have shown that not only our thoughts but the actions we take leave a trail within our psyches. I often quote Martin Seligman’s work, and also love that of David G. Myers, Ph.D. Chiefly because, well, I like the science behind theories 🙂 And Myers maintain that we’re as likely to act ourselves into thinking in a new way as we are to try to think ourselves there.
That tweaks me. But what does it mean, exactly?
It means that by pretending to be more confident, acting as if you are optimistic and outgoing, you will actually become that way.
In other words, faking it ‘til you make it.
One experiment had people writing essays in either a self-enhancing or a self-deprecating way. Amazingly, those who acted as if they were intelligent, caring, and sensitive, later described themselves as having higher self-esteem!
Don’t you just love when science backs up theory. Yep, I already said that. Always bears repeating for me!
For the longest time, I thought this saying was just phony. I mean, I’m not big on lying to myself (that’s a long dark road). And telling myself something I didn’t believe to be the facts, well, that sounded a lot like lying to me.
Oddly when I started practicing it (hey, I’ll try most anything that won’t kill me once), I found to my complete surprise that it wasn’t like that at all! Rather, doing so felt like taking on a new job. You know how the first few days you feel like an imposter? Whether you’re a brand-new mom, a promoted executive, are writing a first book, it doesn’t matter what—in the beginning all those voices come up and say, “Why do you feel qualified to do this?” But after you keep going through more days, acting the role, funny enough, it no longer feels forced. And then it just fits. As if you know what you’re doing.
What changed—the job or you?
That’s the method behind acting as if.
That subconscious mind—which is the 95% of us below the conscious iceberg, and governs our lives—can’t discern between truth and fiction. It can only act on the food you give it through your conscious mind. And if sooner or later I am going to feel confident, sooner or later, I will be happy again, shoot—why not feel that way now? Why waste time feeding my subconscious negative thoughts?
Sometimes I do need a bit more to push me to act. Sometimes that’s just a hug from a friend. Ah, the serotonin rush! I may even be all better then J
Often, when I just can seem to ferret through, I sit down and journal ideas. Something has me stuck, and the act of writing sure helps clear the veil from my psyche so I can see.
And then I take the stumbling block and turn it into an opportunity. Yep, I know—it sounds cliché. And as an author, I surely hate clichés. This one works so well for me though, I allow it! Because I can take a perceived problem and act to work through it. Or around it.
And then I smile. And we know the very act of smiling makes us happier. And when we’re happier, we smile more.
And the vicious cycle becomes one instead of confidence, joy, and bliss.
How do you change your thoughts and feelings to be more productive?