The Power of Acting as If

I’m all about the questions these days. I want to be happy, joyous, and free so I’m asking what that looks like and how to accomplish it. I’m aware that happiness requires daily action, it’s not a destination, but I know the way I think and act has a lot to do with how I feel. Often, my thoughts are negative and I slip into worst-case scenarios, which doesn’t feel great.

If I throw a party, I’m sure no one will come. If it’s a slow week work-wise, I’m convinced I won’t be able to pay my rent and will have to move back in with my parents. I know it’s a protective mechanism, that I want to save myself from disappointment and also prepare for the worst, but it kind of sucks. It’s not fun to constantly scan for threats and be negative. As I wrote about last week, it robs me of joy.

I’m affirming, “I create a new life with new rules that totally support me.” But how do I actually do that? What occurred to me is a concept that I learned from 12-step programs, which is “acting as if.” It means pretending until something feels real. It’s building a baseball field believing the players will come, to cite the movie Field of Dreams. It’s taking contrary actions that don’t feel natural until one day they do.


“If you build it, he will come.” Classic acting as is. Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

For me, the questions are, “How can I act as if the universe loves and supports me? What would I do/say/think if I believed all is well and that I’m being taken care of?” It may seem like small questions but the ramifications are huge. If I believe the money will come to pay my rent, then right now I would stop worrying and spinning my wheels. If I trust that all is well, I would have patience in the here and now knowing that every delay is beneficial and the perfect fill-in-the-blank has already been selected. I would affirm that all right actions will be shown.

It reminds me of something my friend Emma said in November 2021 after I was in a car accident: “There will always be an invitation to the fear and negativity party but you can choose to decline.” It was a powerful perspective shift that’s resurfacing. I don’t have to say yes to negativity and worst-case scenarios. I can choose to center myself in faith, not by doing it once, but like with happiness, making it a daily practice.

My spiritual teacher says over and over again if a person takes shelter in the Supreme, they need not be afraid of anything in this world. That the divine is “more courageous than the most courageous, and braver than the bravest. Those who take shelter in [the divine] are therefore bound to acquire these qualities: courage, bravery, chivalry, and so on. Once endowed with such qualities, what is there to fear?

When I’m in fear, I’m not taking shelter in the Divine Beloved. I’m separating myself and saying, “Oh no! I’m all alone! I have to figure it out!” But I’m not alone, ever. There is an entity that is nearer than near, that is with me now, forever, and always. What would my life be like if I remembered that? And if that feels inaccessible, which it does right now, what if I acted as if I was never alone? That I was always loved, always cared for, and always supported? I’m not sure yet but I notice my breathing deepens and I feel soothed contemplating it so I think I’m on the right track.

I dream of a world where we remember there can be a step between doubt and faith. A world where we recognize that step is acting as if. A world where we realize even if we don’t believe it, we can act as if all is well, that we are loved, taken care of, and supported. A world where we know there is power in pretending because eventually, the masquerade becomes reality.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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