The principle of “acting as if” is an old concept that was first written about a century ago by William James who was a philosopher and also a trained physician. He actually coined the principle and outlined how to create motivation to do things that people are reluctant to do.
Today, the “act as if” principle is a widely used principle across every area of life. The concept was also popularized by the Law of Attraction that states in order for someone to manifest what they want into their lives, they must act as if they are already living their desire.
It is a simple principle to understand but has a deep and meaningful insight within the principle. This principle is the process of acting like you already be, do, or have the goals that you desire.
The principle suggests that you should adopt the manner, facial expression, tone, pace, posture, walk, talk, breathe, think, and dress like someone who you want to be. Simply put, you must become the person in order to be, do, or have the things that the person already owned. In general, if you want to be successful, you must act, talk, walk, and think like how a successful person will act.
This is always easier said than done. How do you act as if you are already rich or successful? Should you go ahead and buy a new luxury car? Dine in the finest restaurant and stay in the five-star hotel in your area?
This is an interesting subject to dive deeper into and this is exactly what you are going to discover in this article. However, the first thing we need to do is to validate if the principle is going to work.
Is the Principle of “Acting As If” Works?
There are countless of personal development books and gurus who push the idea that “acting as if” is all you need to become a better person. At the Guardian, a psychology professor and author named Richard Wiseman points out that this is true.
Wiseman says that positive action is far more than positive thinking. He says that by acting as if you are a certain type of person, you become that person. And below is his quote from one of his research.
“Take, for example, willpower. Motivated people tense their muscles as they get ready to spring into action. But can you boost your willpower by simply tensing your muscles? Studies led by Iris Hung from the National University of Singapore had volunteers visit a local cafeteria and asked them to try to avoid temptation and not buy sugary snacks. Some of the volunteers were asked to make their hand into a fist or contract their biceps, and thus behave as if they were more motivated. Amazingly, this simple exercise made people far more likely to buy healthy food.”
The idea where you can “fake it until you make it” is not new, but Wiseman says that when you are doing so, it becomes real to you. This is because our brain cannot differentiate between what is real and what is being imagined.
Think about it, why do people feel scared when they watch a horror movie? People get sweaty palms when they imagine themselves standing at the edge of a tall building. Movies and imagination only happen in the mind, but our minds cannot differentiate the pictures and make us feel the feelings.
And this explains why the principle of acting as if works. It is as real as the Law of Gravity. You cannot see gravity around you, but you can feel it. When you try to jump or throw something up in the air, it will fall down to the ground. The same goes with the principle of acting as if. You cannot see it, but it is happening deep inside your mind.
Richard Wiseman also gives some suggestions on how you can apply this principle. For instance, he says that when you tense up your body muscle, you will have better willpower. And when you pretend like you are interested in a subject, it is less likely that you are going to procrastinate. And if you want to build confidence, pose as if you are a confident person. And when you strike a conversation, you can subtly nod to convince people to agree with you.
The 3 Simple Steps How to “Act As If”
Now that you have understood the principle behind the concept, it is time for you to learn how you can implement and apply this principle to your life.
Here are 3 simple steps you can follow to apply this principle and become the person worthy of the success that you desire.
1. Be Conscious of Your Feelings and Emotions
First, you have to understand how the root of your desire. For example, if you want a new car and you want to manifest it into your life, how should you do it? Well, you can visit the showroom, you can check out the details online, and you can also take a test drive. However, the root of this wanting is your emotions.
Your actions such as visiting the showroom is the means to an end, it is not the end. The end here is how the new car makes you feel. Perhaps, you want the car because it will make you feel proud and rich. Or maybe you want to feel successful and enjoy the excitement of driving the new car in town. Whatever it is that you want, you are actually pursuing the feelings.
Thus, the first step you need to do is to identify the feelings that you want. Without knowing the feelings, it will be difficult to manifest and act as if things are already happening.
After you have identified the root emotion of what you desire, find the evidence that you already feel this emotion before in your life. If you are going to feel like you have owned a new car, it will be difficult to feel the emotion because the event is yet to happen and you are doing it based on your own thinking.
So you need to find out the exact feeling that you felt before and it is the same kind of feeling as owning a new car. For instance, you know how freedom, prosperity, success, and excitement feel like because you have experienced these emotions before.
If driving a new car makes you feel like a “success”, find out an example that you have felt this same feeling before. Take note and be conscious every time when you feel this feeling of “success” every day. Focus on how this feeling has already been attracted to you and continued to come to you on a daily basis.
The key is to feel your root emotion in order to feel as if you already have it. As you project more of this emotion, your desire will draw closer to you.
2. Creating the Harmony Between What You Want and Your Actions
The second step is about creating the harmony between what you desire and your action. A lot of people find it hard to act as if they already have the things that they desire because their action is not consistent with their feelings. They can act like they are rich, but deep down inside their hearts; they do not feel rich at all. Or it can happen the other way round where they feel rich, but their actions are inconsistent with their feelings.
So in this second step, you need to create the harmony between your emotions and your actions. A simple example is that a wealthy person seldom uses the phrase “I can’t afford that”. When she saw something she passionately wants (feelings), she would probably say something like “I’d love to get that” (action). The feeling and action are in harmony.
If you say that you want to own a new car, you feel excited when you think about it, but if you are not willing to check out the price, the model, visit the showroom, or even take a test-drive, it shows that your action is not consistent with your feelings.
This is just like saying that you want to be in a relationship when you still cannot let go of your past relationship. The universe will be confused and not sure what you want, this is why the principle of acting as if is not working for most people.
Someone who has a great career will not complain about his job when he was asked about it. He probably shares all the good things that he has experienced in his job. And this is what you should do too. If you want to build a successful career, act like you have a great career. Never complain, do not blame or criticize because someone who has a great career will never do that.
3. Rinse, Repeat and Let Go
The third step is to rinse and repeat, and then let go. Tony Robbins, the world’s famous success coach says it well. He says that personal development is a skill. And in order to improve your skill, you need to train and do it every day.
So when it comes to the principle of acting as if, you need to practice it and do it daily. You want to ingrain it to become part of your life and also become your habit.
When you are acting as if you the successful person you want to be, your mind makes it real. And when your action is consistent with your emotion, it further strengthens your mind and makes you believe that you are the person who you were meant to be. And finally, the results will follow.
Take a look at all the highly successful people who have accomplished outstanding results in their lives such as Michael Jordan, Elon Musk, and Warren Buffett. Michael Jordan has a deep passion for basketball. He feels the motivation and the energy to perform as a professional player. And his action shows too because he trains and works hard to improve his skills. And more importantly, he repeats the process day-in and day-out. So Michael Jordan fulfills these three steps to act as if he is a superstar basketball player long before he actually becomes one.
The same story goes to Warren Buffett who becomes one the greatest investors in the world. Since a young age, he wanted to be a millionaire and he was extremely passionate about investing. He studied, learned, and improved his investment skills every day. He even made Benjamin Graham his mentor and modeled after his strategy. He took the necessary actions to become a successful investor. Again, Warren Buffett followed these three steps and act as if he was a successful investor who made millions from the stock market, which he actually did.
Besides that, you must also learn to let go. This is easier said than done. It is a paradox that you will get what you want when you let go of it. Once you drop the “desire” and truly feel like you have already owned it, it will come to you. This is why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
You will never see a wealthy person worries too much about his wealth. And as human beings, we do not really worry about if we have enough oxygen in the world to continue breathing, we just breathe. When you act as if you have abundant of it, more will come to you.
Therefore, do not over-stress about what you want or holding to it too tightly. The more stress and pressure you feel, the less likely that what you want will come to you. And yes, you have to fake it until you make it, but in a natural way. When you act as if and truly believe that you already have the things you want deep in your heart, you can manifest it and things will come to you.
The principle of acting as if may sound so simple that most people underestimate its process. However, when it comes to the application, most people do not know how to do it and they get it wrong.
Follow these three steps you have learned above and make apply them into your life. This is how you can act as if you already have it, and eventually the results, the goals, and the dreams will become true to you.