Fake It ’til You Make It

One of my favorite books is The Power of Habit, and I have totally bought into the idea that we are, essentially, a collection of habits. Getting rid of bad habits or cultivating good ones is challenging. There is a tendency to view the process of reengineering habits through a prism of the ever-elusive “willpower”.

In a thought-provoking piece on this subject, Extreme Fear author Jeff Wise offers a different (and more productive) prism through which to view internal change:

Obviously, you can’t change your internal reality overnight. But act out the change you want, and day by day, the weight of evidence will become undeniable. Before long, the person you pretend to be becomes the person that you are. In one experiment, researchers recruited subjects who said they wanted to learn one new habit, and asked them perform the new behavior every day. After 60 days, most of them rated the newly learned habit as effortless to perform. What had once been a desired change was now an accepted reality.

Wise found this construct helpful in his smoking cessation efforts.

Methodist movement founder John Wesley had reached an emotional valley in his ministry. After a long discussion, a friend advised him:

Preach faith till you have it, and then because you have it, you will preach faith.

Another iteration of this same concept:

Act as if you have faith and it will be granted to you.

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