Just act “As If.” In recovery we often hear this suggestion made to the newly sober person who struggles to understand AA’s program and fears going back to his or her addiction. The implication of acting as if is that when the newcomer behaves according to the 12 steps and AA’s principles, the program begins work and anxiety and fear associated with going back to the old life will leave.
(AA to Z: An Addictionary of the 12-Step Culture).
In doing this we will somehow own the right action and become transformed as the feelings become real in our life.
But I heard another thought-provoking perspective on acting As If. In her book about becoming authentic, Toni Raiten-D’Antonio, author of the book, The Velveteen Principles for Women says that many women are living AS IF:
Absent: blankly accepting the standards of other people’s opinions and tuning out our own individuality.
Superficial: Judging ourselves on outward appearances, and our financial and social statuses.
Insecure: Feeling so much anxiety that we try to control ourselves and others by never being spontaneous
Fearful: So afraid of other people’s opinions (OPO) and failing to succeed as the perfect woman that we are terrified to admit our own imperfections
Perfectionism and superficial living hide the feeling of not being enough and we get stuck wearing a mask called, “I’m fine; it’s all fine.”
As-If living manifests as worn out, burned out, anxious. There may be physical symptoms– headache, digestive issues, back or muscle pain. It’s exhausting trying to live up to your constructed self.
You constantly feel that gnawing angst in your spirit—no peace, no joy.
You may not even be aware that you have been existing in the land of AS IF but if you are; you are truly sabotaging a life of freedom from the pain of it all.
Learning to be real is not an easy journey, especially if you’ve built up an image that has been crafted for many years, but it is the higher road to deeper relationship with yourself, your loved ones and most especially with your God.
It will mean uncovering and discovering all that is you underneath layers of what David G. Benner* calls your ignored, part-self. The not-so-known parts of you.
It means reaching out for help from others. A life coach, therapists, spiritual guides, para-professionals and others who have walked the path to authenticity will be with you all the way.
Most of us have been transformed from the life of AS IF.
Your life will not change until you get on the path to authentic self. It is how we were all meant to live.
Authenticity creates the environment for real change in your life. It will take courage and commitment but you will finally be free to be you, just as God intended.
What a blessed relief to say, “YES!” This is the real me. And when the reality that God loves you from head to toe, perfectly—well, when you’re in this place, those feelings of not enough, less than, and fear of OPO are replaced with a confidence that is not conjured up, but from deep within you–The Spirit place.
*The Gift of Being Yourself, David G. Benner