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Dr. Bob Wright | July 29, 2021

How to Feel Okay: Making the Choice to Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Do you ever wonder how to feel okay? Sometimes we all have times when we feel inadequate or like we don’t measure up.

Wondering how to feel okay? Here’s how to find a way to feel okay, even if you have to fake it ‘til you make it.

 


 

This can be an especially strong feeling if we’re recently single, going through a tough time, or have had our confidence shaken.

How do you value yourself? What if you feel like no one else values or appreciates you? Can you fake it ‘til you make it when it comes to having confidence and self-worth?

These questions speak to our deepest concerns about ourselves. Many of us believe we’re inadequate or view our relationships as a way to measure our worth. We might wonder how to feel okay without getting approval and validation from others.

The truth is, feeling okay—heck, feeling great—about yourself is a choice. It’s all up to us to decide to feel okay. Here’s how to choose to feel good about who you are every day.

Learning How to Believe that You Are Enough

Recently, I was working with a group of singles here at the Wright Foundation. We were discussing how many of them looked at being single as a deficit. They thought their single status indicated an inherent flaw or shortcoming on their part; singlehood meant they weren’t worthy of love. They wondered how to be okay with themselves when they were on their own.

As we continued the discussion, they started coming around to the idea that it’s perfectly okay to be single. Likewise, it’s okay to like and value yourself even if no one currently values you romantically.


It’s easy to talk about self-esteem and the importance of feeling confident. But it’s a whole other ball of wax to really value ourselves completely.


We can ask ourselves, “do I view myself as a blessing to the world? Do I think of myself as a gift? Do I realize that other people are fortunate to be around me, and my presence enhances their lives?”

Chances are, we might have a hard time really believing those answers to be true. Many of us feel like we’re arrogant or “full of ourselves” when we think of ourselves in such high regard. Yet, at the same time, many of us struggle to value ourselves at all.

The truth is that each of us is a gift to the world. Each human being has intrinsic value and worth, even at those times when we don’t really feel it. Even in those moments when we don’t believe it one bit! We’re worthy even when we feel crummy. We’re worthy when we make mistakes, mess up, feel we’re alone in the world, or have a terrible day. We’re valuable when we’re sick and when we’re well. We’re still worthy humans, even when we don’t know how to feel okay about ourselves and we’re struggling.

Many of us think we need to feel good to be worthy. If we want to believe we’re a blessing to those around us, we need to feel like we’re contributing something of worth. We need to know that we have value and feel our worth to know we’re worthy.

But it’s really, much simpler than that. We can be worthy—we can feel okay and even good about ourselves by deciding to be a blessing to others. We will feel it as soon as we accept the truth: Each of us is a gift to the world.

We offer something unique to those around us. We have value, and we have influence. We can impact those around us in small ways that add up to a big ripple effect out into the world. When we start to believe that we’re important and that we’re able to influence others, we will begin to see our confidence grow. We’re essentially following the adage, “Fake it ’til you make it.”

We start to see this concept from Eric Berne in his work on Transactional Analysis and his book, “I’m Okay, You’re Okay.” Berne explored how our relationship with others is viewed as a game, enforcing and reinforcing our beliefs about ourselves.

People tend to think “okay” is a feeling. We’re waiting for it to happen to us out of the blue. We’re hoping the stars will align, and we’ll feel “okay.” Or we look to our relationships with others to reassure us that we’re okay.

In truth, okay is a choice. Feeling okay is a decision we must make.

You may feel like absolute garbage and say, “this proves that I’m garbage.” Or you may feel like garbage and realize, “I’m an okay person who just feels like garbage right now.” When we accept that we’re all okay (even if we feel like crap), then we realize that we’re so much more than our circumstances.

Fighting the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

We learn how to be okay more and more as we shift our perspective and adjust our expectations of ourselves. It’s not that we’re fighting against the idea of self-improvement, but we should fight against the idea that however we feel in the moment is how we “are” inherently.

We’re really combating this idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy. When we feel bad, we believe that we ARE bad. When we believe this misconception, we start putting the idea out there in the world, and we present ourselves as unworthy. We walk into the room with our heads down. We hold back from engaging. We slump. We carry ourselves like we feel undeserving.


Because of how we carry ourselves and engage with the world, people perceive us as being less-than and treat us as such. It isn’t a conscious reaction but rather how they react to our presence. This reaction only serves to reinforce our original limiting belief.


We look back at an interaction that didn’t go well and go, “See, I was right! I knew it was going to turn to sh*t,” and the cycle of the self-fulfilling prophecy trap continues. We keep up the pattern because each interaction reinforces the idea that we hold of how we aren’t okay.

The good news is that it’s within our power to break out of our self-fulfilling prophecy trap. The pattern of the self-fulfilling prophecy can happen in reverse if we follow the idea of “fake it ‘till you make it.” When we put on an air of being okay, we may find that we start to believe that we ARE actually okay.

We can act as though we believe we are a gift. Act as though we believe we have intrinsic value. Act as though we believe we are a blessing in the world and a blessing to those around us. When we start to act like we’re a gift, the world will begin to reinforce the idea as well. Other people will start to treat us with value. When we believe we are okay, we will begin to truly feel that we’re alright.

When the world sees us as a blessing, it starts challenging those limiting beliefs that we’re not a blessing, don’t have value, or are not okay. The decision to lift from that attitude is critical.

We’ve all heard “fake it ‘till you make it,” and it’s really true. It’s an excellent way to break our limiting beliefs and stop the cycle of the self-fulfilling prophecy.

A Lesson from the King & I: How to Fake It ‘Til You Make It

In the classic musical The King & I, there’s a scene that really sticks with me. The main characters—a British schoolteacher and her son—are landing in Bangkok Harbor. They’re looking out on this foreign landscape. They see new people they don’t know, dressed in unfamiliar clothing (the story takes place in the mid-1800s). The teacher and her son are afraid. To them, the strangers appear fierce and scary.

The mother turns to her son and begins to sing:

Whenever I feel afraid
I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune
So no one will suspect
I’m afraid 

While shivering in my shoes
I strike a careless pose
And whistle a happy tune
And no one ever knows
I’m afraid 

The result of this deception
Is very strange to tell
For when I fool the people
I fear I fool myself as well!

I whistle a happy tune
And ev’ry single time
The happiness in the tune
Convinces me that I’m not afraid 

Make-believe you’re brave
And the trick will take you far
You may be as brave
As you make believe you are

This is quite powerful advice from a Rogers and Hammerstein classic (and a catchy tune). It’s really a matter of how we choose to hold ourselves and present ourselves to those around us.  If we’re afraid we don’t have worth, we can fake it until we fool ourselves as well.

I really think people confuse feeling bad, sad, or hurt, for being bad, sad, or hurt. It’s called emotional reasoning. It’s believing that what I feel currently is what I am. Instead, we can decide to break this self-fulfilling prophecy pattern.

Similar to how we say love is a choice—we choose to love another person—we can also choose to love ourselves. We decide to appreciate the value we have and the blessing that we are. Even if we don’t feel okay in the moment, we can act as though we believe we’re okay. We can choose to present ourselves as a person of worth. In doing so, others will see our worth and reflect it back to us.

While being single or looking for someone to value us romantically may cause us to feel undervalued and “not okay,” the more we look beyond our relationships to define our worth, the more we find worth within ourselves, and the more confidence we’ll put forth into the world. We can choose to go forward with as much confidence as we can muster.

“You may be as brave as you make believe you are!” When we pretend that we’re brave, we may find that we get some surprisingly positive results.

For more on building your confidence, don’t miss our courses available at Wright Now. We offer many great learning opportunities for personal growth, a better career, and stronger relationships. Explore the path to your next most radiant self today!


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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

 

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