Fake it Till You Make it – a phrase I think most of us have heard. Then there’s positive affirmations. If you’ve done any sort of personal development or counselling you’ve likely been encouraged to do daily positive affirmations. And the Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” If you had gone to a car dealership and looked at a new vehicle and then paid for a new vehicle, but could not take it home yet because they had clean it you would not say, “Maybe some day I can get that new vehicle.” Why? Because it’s already yours! So even though you cannot see it, it’s not sitting in your driveway, you cannot cruise around showing it off to your friends, you still speak of it being certain of what you do not see. You speak of it in reference to, “my car.” That’s what Hebrews is telling us, to speak as though it is already ours even if we cannot yet see the physical evidence. To me, this sounds similar to a positive affirmation, no?
So everywhere we turn, the world is telling us to behave as though something is true, even if the physical evidence is not confirming that it’s true yet.
It is the same for self-confidence. Often, we do not realize it, but if we’re behaving as though we lack self-confidence we end up in situations that further defeat our confidence.
Let’s take a look at friendships as an example. If we lack self-confidence we may not believe we are worthy of friendships. Or at least friendships that are healthy for us. We have a habit of hanging out with people that talk us into doing things we don’t want to do, behaving in ways that are not in line with our own hopes, dreams, ethics or morals. Or we’re just so tired of being lonely that even when we recognize a relationship is unhealthy we choose to stick with it because we don’t want to be alone. Perhaps you’ve even tried leaving those unhealthy relationships behind and lining yourself up with people that are better friends, but those relationships tend to fall apart for some reason.
Have you ever asked yourself why those friendships tend to fall apart? Is it possible the breakdown of the relationship is not because you’re not worthy of a healthy relationship, but it’s rooted back to self-confidence? Have you ever asked your friend, “are you mad at me?” or “if it’s ok with you, do you think you could maybe…” Have you accused your friend of not liking you or sat alone and wondered if your friend is talking about you behind your back? Have you had trouble believing that they would truly like you if they really knew you? Or wondered what they really think of you? Or wondered if they’re only friends with you because they feel sorry for you? Have you ever been too ashamed to be honest in a friendship and aren’t fully truthful about your employment, housing, vehicles or other relationships? Put all together like this, it may be easy to see that these are defeated thoughts.
What we may not realize is these types of thoughts tend to creep out into our behavior and non-verbal communication. We end up being a friend that requires all sorts of assurances about the relationship. We need to hear from our friend that they like us. We need to not be left out of gatherings and feel deeply hurt when we are left out. Sometimes we feel the need to provide gifts or services that may be beyond our affordability because we’re wanting to be seen, appreciated and recognized as a good person. Occasionally we may, perhaps without even thinking it all the way through, pick a fight. It’s almost like we’re trying to push the person away, but feel deeply thankful if the person instead reassures us that they get value from the friendship. We may find ourselves trying to “match statuses” with our friends by buying what they buy, going to all the events they go to, joining all the clubs they join, when in reality our budget is screaming at us to stop spending money.
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Friendships that have this sort of foundation are not friendships that feed your spirit and build you up. Instead you find yourself emotionally exhausted, sometimes financially strained and the friendship often fails by fizzling out or by an epic all out fight with much hurt on both sides. So, how do you change this?
You fake it till you make it. Now, I’m not talking about faking being a genuine friend. That shit ya gotta keep real. I’m talking about faking yourself out! Now, now, I hear ya, “Gail, what in the world are you going on about?!? Stick with me here. Let me ask you, do you know how to be your own friend?
What do you like to do? How do you like to dress? What are your values and ethics? What is your budget? What makes you laugh and feel free? Do those things! Even if you have to do them alone at first. Because even if you’re doing them alone, if it’s stuff that you like and find value in, it should feed your spirit. Perhaps you like movies. Go to the movies! Yes, even if you have to go alone! You may say, well, that feels so awkward, I feel like I stand out and the whole world knows I’m a loser with no friends. Uh uh. Don’t go there! That’s where you fake it! You hold your head up high and you quiet your self-conscious speak in your head and you just head on in and enjoy that movie. Keep doing the things you like and you’ll eventually find friends in those locations. And it’s a lot easier to be open and genuine and honest with someone that has the same interests as you.
Then, once you’ve made a friend you shut your mind up! Well, not completely, that might get weird…. but you shut down and stop listening to the self-conscious behavior. Make a decision to never ask your friend if they’re mad at you. Instead, remind yourself that if this person is your friend and if they are upset with you they will respect you enough to talk to you about it. And, this is the tough part, faking it comes in again – if you are upset with your friend you gotta fake your bravery and actually talk to them about it! Don’t be afraid that if you speak up they’re gonna hate you and never be your friend again. Friends aren’t afraid to be honest with one another, even if it’s awkward. I’m not saying you should have a fight and yell and scream. But have courage, even if you have to fake it, to discuss differences! Choose to believe that your friend is your friend. Don’t go looking for hurts and offenses. If you and your friend have different budgets so your relationship is based on free classes at the library and they go out with a different group of friends to the opera and then they tell you about it the next day – be genuinely happy for them!!! Just because they have other friends does not mean you’re not a valuable friend! The other outing has nothing to do with you. It’s not defining whether your friend likes you more or less or wishes you were more like their other friends or didn’t invite you because you wouldn’t fit in with those friends and they’re embarrassed of you. It literally has nothing to do with you. If your brain struggles to believe that, fake it! You tell your brain, you know what, this friend shows up when she says she’s gonna show up, she reaches out to me, she laughs with me, she shares secrets with me and we have inside jokes. Therefore, there is NO evidence that our friendship is not valuable to her and her going out with different friends in no way reflects on the value of our friendship. If you struggle with self-confidence your brain can sometimes behave like it has an evil little thing in the back of your mind. It tries to speak up and tell you, well, there was that time she didn’t call me for a week, I had to call her. Well, there was that time she had to cancel our plans or whatever else. You shut that evil part off! Do not let it gain traction, do not let it repeat itself. Every time it repeats itself it’s voice gets louder. Fake deafness. You do not hear these doubts!
If you can conquer these things the rewards are great. You end up with peace within yourself. You no longer have to struggle with what to wear, what to say, how to look or what to talk about. Those things in a genuine relationship just flow freely. Eventually, you won’t have to carry on two conversations, the one in the real world with your friend and the battle going on in your head with the evil self-doubts. With time, and depending on your level of self-confidence it could be a little time or a heckuva long time, you will have a relationship where you can just be you, always. And let me tell you, that’s an investment worth making! You only need one of those types of friendships in the world to feel a whole lotta love in your heart. The challenge of course, is that you have to put in the work to achieve that level of freedom.