What if “As if..”
Christmas is over, the fridge gradually emptying of left-overs (the bits of boeuf en croute gone first, thanks James) and the supply of cookies dwindling. (The scale is relegated to the spare room.) As New Year’s draws nigh, reflections on the old year that should really lead to resolutions for the new: More stretchy clothes the next size up perhaps?
But one possible resolution might subsume all the rest: How about living as if those things we wished about ourselves were really true. Like say, as if I was a good performer so I WILL take part in the show, tap dancing with top hat and tails. As if I were confident in… well, fill in your own blank here, I’ll spare you personal details. But seriously, how much time have I wasted worrying about if I’m good enough to do this or that longed-for thing? How much have you?
How about dealing with difficult people as if they were doing the best they can in the circumstances. As if they are reasonable people? Not to be totally stupid about it of course, put up safeguards not to get injured or mis-used. But at least starting an interaction on the up and up.
What about dealing with seemingly hopeless situations as if there were some reasonable sliver of hope, and burnishing that up and opening the door for more?
I teach kids to look as if they are paying attention, including how to sleep with your eyes open and your chin propped up by your hands. (The key: Moisten your elbows so they don’t slide out from under you.). My hope is that it’s easier to ACTUALLY pay attention than just look as if you are.
Smiling makes you happier, behavior really does change your mood. Yes, ‘pulling yourself together’, the British school of therapy, does have some basis in research. My friend Fiona – the funniest Christmas letter writer in the world – has a DEGREE in psychology from Bristol (UK) and will tell you it’s all perfectly true, especially if you add several exclamation points.
Catherine decided one day to stop being so submissive to her husband and to Empress Elizabeth, and she did and became, well, great. The Great. (Although she took it way too far in the end. Only 1/3 the way through her biography but I think horses were involved.)
Another friend was so shy in middle school the teachers wouldn’t know his name by the end of the year. He decided to just get over it or he’d have no friends, and no life. He did and he does, an incredibly courageous and insightful decision at 14.
What would ___ do? I’ll slot in a leader I admire, a friend I trust, a mentor, a skinny fit person I envy, or an artist that inspires me, depending on the situation. I’m not going to pretend to be someone else but it’ll give another perspective to consider. Something new, something for the new year.