I like to describe my interventions as having three levels. 1) The Emotional Level (a.k.a.: it’s gonna hurt but you must dig deep), 2) The Cognitive Level (a.k.a.: change that useless thought), and 3) The Behavioural Level (a.k.a.: modify your behaviour or just fake it ‘til you make it (FITYMI)).
I used to be annoyed by behavioural therapy when I was back in school. I always believed that (figuratively) hitting them where it hurts, would produce the best results. The concept of FITYMI however, means pretending that your goal has already been reached. This idea used to frustrate me because, how do you want someone to fake something they’ve never felt? That’s f*&king stupid! But today, I understand that it feels stupid because we have unknowingly kept our bodies from reaching their potential. We have kept our bodies from feeling worthy or successful or entitled or proud or healthy…now that’s f*&king stupid!
Scientifically, I now understand the benefits of FITYMI. You must pretend -yes pretend- that your self-esteem is high, that you’re proud of your accomplishments, that people like you, and that you’re healthy. When I blog about neuroplasticity, you’ll see that doing these things will, in fact, change the structure of your brain to the point where your neurons will start forming new networks that facilitate high self-esteem, healthy pride, a healthy body and healthy interpersonal interactions.
Here is the key to completing this work: You must train these “fake” thoughts for as long as you would train a muscle at the gym. Do you want those abs? Do you want that ass of steel? Well, you are gonna have to work for them. In this case, you will not be training your muscular system but you will be training your nervous system. How frikin’ powerful does that sound? …having control over your nervous system? F*&kin’ awesome!
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to start FITYMI work. These are questions you can ask yourself in order to start pretending that your goals have already been reached (I’ll use ‘increasing self- esteem’ as the goal):
- What does someone with high self-esteem look like?
- How do they walk? How do they talk?
- If that person were me, what would I look like?
- With high self-esteem, how would I walk? How would I talk?
- What am I wearing with high self-esteem?
- How do I sound to other people when I have high self-esteem?
- What would it feel like inside to know that people are respecting me?
- As I walk down the hallway, how is my posture with high self-esteem?
- When I ask a question to a colleague or classmate, how do I feel with high
- When I complete a project, how do I feel with high self-esteem?
I’m essentially trying to get you to emotionally rehearse what it feels like to have high self-esteem. If you rehearse this over and over again, you will train your neurons to form new connections that actually facilitate high self-esteem. In the end, trust me, you will no longer have to fake anything.