At some point in our lives, and it probably happens more often than we’d like to admit, we fake it.
Let’s get real, shall we friends?
Think about it. Your mother is having heart surgery in a small town across the country. You are, frankly, worried sick. Do you tell anyone in the operating room, especially your patient?
What would you do?
If you’re like me (OK, this was me recently), you fake it. You smile at your patient who is getting ready to have surgery. You greet the OR staff in the same way you usually do, making a joke here and there.
The staff does raise their eyebrows when you ask to hear the song, “Let It Go,” from the movie Frozen. Not the usual musical selection. Only you know that you’re trying to put those worry thoughts out of your mind and focus on your patient and the surgery you are performing.
Every day, in hundreds of ways, we’re called upon to fake it:
- When you walk down the hall, and a colleague at work says, “How’s it going?” and you smile and say, “Fine, and you?” when you just broke up with your boyfriend and were up until 3 a.m. the night before, crying your eyes out.
- When the grocery store clerk robotically asks the usual question, “Did you find everything you need?” and you nod “yes,” even though you saw they were out of your favorite coconut water.
- When you see that there’s a phone call from your best friend who just lost her job, and you want to complain about the traffic, the weather, your shin splints, but you feel that her complaints are a bit more legit.
- And what about when you walk into a meeting and really don’t feel confident in what’s going to happen. But you hold your head up, walk in, and fake it all the way through.
So, here’s the deal. Should we fake it?
Well, the votes are divided, I’m afraid. Some experts say that we should, indeed, fake confidence to build confidence. The “fake it till we make it” logic.
Sometimes pretending to be happy and just smiling can actually make us feel happier. Smiling increases our “happy hormones” like endorphins and decreases our “stress hormones,” such as cortisol and adrenaline.
But there’s also advice that says we should take baby steps toward our goals rather than pretending to already be there. “Trust in Allah, but tie your camel,” is what Susan Harrow says in Psychology Today.
Let’s face it. You can keep smiling, but at some point, it’s the sharing and connecting with people that’s going to be most effective.
So which is it?
Should you fake it? And if you do, should you tell later?
The answer is: There is no answer.
Because this is about you, and trusting your gut. Learning to trust your instincts will change how you respond to people, and also take you from automatically reacting to something, to being in control and confident in your response.
The trick is to feel into where you are at that particular moment. And then respond accordingly. And own it — if you need to fake it because your instinct tells you so, then that’s what you do.
Yes, I’ve faked it. And my patient did fine. (And my mom did fine, too, I’m happy to share.)
Have you ever faked it? Please share in the comments below when you did. And why.
Starla Fitch is an ophthalmologist, speaker, and personal coach. She blogs at Love Medicine Again and is the author of Remedy for Burnout: 7 Prescriptions Doctors Use to Find Meaning in Medicine. She can also be reached on Twitter @StarlaFitchMD.
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