fake it ’til you make it
Last night I was watching the season premiere of Cougar Town. (Don’t judge me. It’s a very funny show with a bad title.) So, I was watching Cougar Town, and Jules was feeling a bit blue. Her therapist encouraged her to pretend to be happy until she eventually felt happy. Fake it ’til you make it!
Now, I’m not saying we should all start taking life lessons from Jules and the Cul de Sac Crew. If we did, we would inject inordinate amounts of Botox into our faces, drink copious amounts of wine in extremely large glasses, and play Penny Can all day long on a boat in a parking lot. But I think Jules and her therapist are onto something with this Fake it advice.
I’m not saying we should be fake all the time. I don’t like fake people. I don’t want to be a fake person. I want to live an authentic life and have genuine friendships and relationships. I want to be real.
However, there are times when fake it ’til you make it works. There are times when the action comes before the emotion.
I’m not really a morning person. But every morning I drag myself out of my warm, cozy bed and walk upstairs and plaster a smile onto my face and force out a happy, cheerful voice, “Good morning, boys! It’s time to wake up and get ready for school!” Because that’s so much nicer to wake up to than a momma growling out a groggy, “Dangit, it’s morning already! Get up and get downstairs!” And because as I smile and speak in a sweet, cheerful voice, I feel sweeter and more cheerful. The emotion comes after faking it!
It works with difficult people too. If I smile and speak kind words in response to someone’s ugliness, I feel nicer and less annoyed. If I fake it, it’s easier for the genuine kindness to come around.
And after more than eighteen years of marriage, I’ve learned and re-learned and re-learned that fake it ’til you make it is a quite helpful marriage strategy. To be honest, warm, fuzzy in-love feelings aren’t always the predominant emotions in a marriage. But if I reach out and hold my husband’s hand or give him a hug for no reason, if I make his cup of coffee with the creamer and Splenda just the way he likes it, if I cook his favorite meal, if I leave a sweet note for him, send him a text reminding him I love him, rub his shoulders while we watch TV together — if I love-as-a-verb him, then the warm, fuzzy emotions are more likely to follow. I can fake it ’til I make it.
So I won’t take all the advice the characters on Cougar Town offer up. I’m pretty sure Run from your problems isn’t going to be very helpful, no matter how fervently Bobby tries to convince us. And I won’t be forcing my husband to apologize for his behavior in my dreams. But a little fake it ’til you make it can come in handy from time to time. Now, who wants to play Penny Can?