Kurt Vonnegut said, “We are what we pretend to be.”
I love this quote because one thing I have deeply come to know in the past several years is that our biography is not the same as our biography.
John O’Donahue said in an interview with Krista Tippet for On Being, “…there is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there’s still a sureness in you, where there’s a seamlessness in you, and where there is a confidence and tranquility in you.”
When that place is threatened and we feel the sting of judgment, ridicule, abuse, we create walls of protection. We begin to pretend that life happens to us and that we are not in control, accountable or responsible for our circumstance. We hide behind excuses, don’t show up fully, make choices that validate the limiting beliefs.
Let me share a couple examples.
I recently asked my Facebook tribe “What do you find most frustrating & inconvenient about doing the things that you KNOW would make you better?” and someone close to me- we’ll call her Mary for the sake of anonymity- responded, “May not know how to go about doing them.” Now this struck me as an interesting response because for over 20 years, I have been sharing and trying to teach Mary the information she needs to be healthy.
I know Mary has issues around self-worth and I also know that in the past, sickness has gained Mary a great deal of attention. For someone struggling with self-worth, attention is viewed as love. Though Mary is deeply loved, she doesn’t see that unless she is receiving the validation and attention on an on-going basis. Mary has a unique way of having a health crisis every time there is an extended break in our communication. She pretends she doesn’t know enough or is capable of taking control of her health and her health suffers as a result. Now Mary would argue this because she doesn’t see the patterns.
What if Mary started believing that the sureness, confidence, and tranquility in her was worthy of love and good health? What if she pretended that she was smart and capable enough?
Another example is a friend of mine- we’ll call him Joe- who works for a Mom and Pop company. While Joe is not privy to all the in’s and out’s of the business, Joe is in an upper management position and has a huge role in the success of the business.
Joe pretends that in order to get the results he really wants, he’d have to put in 80 hours a week. I have no idea where he got this number, but when I started pushing it a bit, there were other excuses:
the owners make decisions that negatively impact me, the owners expect me to do all sorts of other things and it takes away from my ability to optimize my skill set, the company doesn’t give me the time and resources to do my job well.
I think rooted in Joe’s excuses is the fear of failing (something he painfully experienced before) and so he’s pretending that he doesn’t have full control, and thus, isn’t responsible. At the same time, Joe’s had experiences of giving his all to a company and having little to show for it. So he doesn’t show up fully in this current role. He is okay with not putting in his best efforts.
What if he believed that his decades of experience and knowledge could actually benefit the founders of the company? What if Joe started believing that he was capable enough to succeed and therefore showing up would benefit him, even if the company wasn’t able to thrive?
Pretend to be more
In both cases, Joe and Mary would need to willing to recognize their own internal greatness, reconnecting to that place that John O’Donohue described before they could “pretend” to be that day in and day out. What if they stopped pretending they were their story? What if they started to pretend they were so much more?
(Here is a great 5 minute meditation for that!)
Even if they didn’t fully believe how awe-inspiringly wonderful and wise they really are, if they were at least willing to seek proof that they were as great, strong, tranquil, confident, courageous, and capable as their soul rather than seeking proof of their limited mindset, they could supersize their results.
Take action! Leave a comment below with you have been pretending to be for too long and who you are now committed to pretending to be. When you type it, speak it, and commit to it, you are 86% more likely to succeed!