A focused view of a woman with her hands on a table, smiling. The lower half of her face is shown. In front of her, unfocused view, are two people looking forward at her.

Fake It Till You Make It – When Playing Pretend is the Best Option

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As a child, I played pretend constantly. We lived in a neighborhood without many children so I was left to create my own realities in the woods and by the river at our home. It turns out that pretending can be a genuinely helpful tool in my adult life as well.

I always seem to be hearing messages encouraging me to ‘be your authentic self.’ As I’ve shared, my authentic self is not always the most pleasant person to be around. My authentic self wants to scream at someone who interrupts the first conversation I’ve had with my husband in three days. My authentic self would tell my kids they can put themselves to bed and stop bothering me after 8 pm. My authentic self would reply, “There’s no way I’m packing up six people and a dog to drive seven hours on 95 just so you can tell me that we don’t visit you enough.” That’s what “authentic” looks like from me— not so pretty.

So my question for myself is, Can I just pretend to be okay with stopping work at 2:30 in the afternoon to drive into New Haven on a Friday to pick up our kids and my niece and nephew from camp? What if, instead of being a Grumpy Gretchen, I accept the offer and ‘act as if’ I’m excited to be around six dirty, rambunctious, laughing, bickering, tooting, smack-talking cousins for the weekend?

There are studies out there proving that putting a smile on your face, whether fake or real, makes you happier. I put it to the test. I picked the little buggers up, I smiled, I spoke kindly, and I listened. It worked! (I even got a God wink when one of them said, “I’m really digging the energy in the car right now.”) 

I can get very caught up in my adult temper tantrum when I’m not doing exactly what I want to do exactly when I want to do it. The fact is, I authentically don’t want to be a wretch and I authentically want to spend time with these fantastic little people. Pretending helps me ease my way into good behavior. My experience is, when I put a smile on my face, fake being in the present moment and at peace, I don’t end up having to pretend for very long.

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  1. I love you and am so grateful for both of these pretending threads/drops of wisdom. I have put them in my pocket (like a cool thing you find when walking in the woods) and will feel for it on the daily. Love you, Mags. Tnx for ur continued real real honest. It makes a difference for me when you share!!!

Welcome to my blog! Here you can read about what’s on my mind as I try my best to recover from screaming at my kids and nagging the bejesus out my husband.

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I would love for you to join me as I work to undo these old patterns and evolve to create a more serene and accepting existence. (And you should know that I still want to ear flick the little knuckleheads {this includes my husband} when they don’t rinse a dish before putting it in the dishwasher — always a work in progress.)
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