Fake it till you make it
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"Fake it till you make it" (frequently 'til you make it or until you make it) is an English aphorism which suggests that by imitating confidence, competence, and an optimistic mindset, a person can realize those qualities in their real life. It echoes the underlying principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as a means to enable a change in one's behavior. Or in other words: faith in one's self helps one's self improve.
The phrase is first attested some time before 1973.
Similar advice has been offered by a variety of writers over time:
Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not.
Thus the sovereign voluntary path to cheerfulness, if our spontaneous cheerfulness be lost, is to sit up cheerfully, to look round cheerfully, and to act and speak as if cheerfulness were already there. If such conduct does not make you soon feel cheerful, nothing else on that occasion can. So to feel brave, act as if we were brave, use all our will to that end, and a courage-fit will very likely replace the fit of fear.— William James, "The Gospel of Relaxation", On Vital Reserves (1922)
In the Law of attraction movement, "act as if you already have it", or simply "act as if", is a central concept:
How do you get yourself to a point of believing? Start make-believing. Be like a child, and make-believe. Act as if you have it already. As you make-believe, you will begin to believe you have received.
In the 1920s, Alfred Adler developed a therapeutic technique that he called "acting as if". This strategy gave his clients an opportunity to practice alternatives to dysfunctional behaviors. Adler's method is still used today and is often described as "role play".
- Powell-Brown, Ann (2003). "Can You Be a Teacher of Literacy If You Don't Love to Read?". Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. 47 (4): 284–288. JSTOR 40014774.
- Nielsen, Kelly (2015). "Fake It 'til You Make It: Why Community College Students' Aspirations Hold Steady". American Sociological Association. 88 (4): 265–283.
- Fed. Sec. L. Rep. P 93,748. Securities and Exchange Commission, Plaintiff-appellee, v. Glenn W. Turner Enterprises, Inc., et al., Defendants-appellants, 474 F.2d 476 (9th Cir. 1973) (full text)