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Acting “as if.”

When I started in Alcoholics Anonymous, one of the things that was said that I puzzled over was the importance of acting “as if.” I was to act “as if” I was a happy, healthy individual. They said it would help me on the road to recovery. Granted, I was never able to do that with any consistency, but the times that I did act “as if” I found that I began to feel better. I began to feel that not having alcohol in my life was a real possibility, that I was a good person and there was a big new wonderful world opening for me.

Now, over 28 years sober, I realize more and more the value of that advice and now I think in terms of applying that to depression. What would happen to someone who is caring for a depressed person if they could envision their loved one feeling good again? What would happen if someone who was taking medication and beginning to feel better began to act “as if?” What if they were able, even if only for five or ten minutes, to feel that wisp of happiness, that glimmer of hope, would that make it a bit easier to deal with the depression?

I know that when I was dealing with my drinking, there were ways that I sabotaged myself, kept myself from acting “as if.” For openers, I would spend too many hours watching mindless television. I would change the channels looking for something that would interest me or I would simply watch whatever was on. Being the true couch potato got me thinking…stinking thinking about what a loser I was, how I couldn’t do anything, how I wasted time. Turning off that television was a good “as if” move.

Another way in which I failed to act “as if” was to stay indoors, not getting dressed, giving excuses for not involving myself in activities away from the home. Often I would say that it was good for me to relax but I often failed to note that I had had three weeks of “relaxing” in a row. Acting “as if” got me out and meeting people and doing things that kept the stinking thinking at bay.

Acting “as if” is not easy but when you take a chance, if only for a little while, it can make a difference in your thought processes. It can help you to thinking more positively about yourself and those around you. And if you argue that there is no energy for this, remember that you only have to make a small move. It doesn’t have to be anything big or splashy. You don’t have to act “as if” for a day or a week. A few brief moments will do. And if you keep at it, chipping away as Michelangelo did to those lumps of marble, you will find one day that it is no longer “as if” but rather a strong part of who you are.

–Bernadette

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2 Responses

  1. Wow 28 years! Yay you! Acting as if usually helps when I have to do the laundry.

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