When “Fake it til’ you Make it” Doesn’t Work

By Jasmine Payne, HMT Resident in Counseling in Northern Virginia 


Many of us have heard the sentiment “fake it until you make it.” It implies that if you can imitate or pretend to have certain qualities or emotions like happiness, confidence, or competence that you will eventually obtain them genuinely. While this works for some people, it does not work for everyone. Going through the motions and acting in opposition to how you feel does not always result in cultivating those emotions within. In fact, it can increase self-doubt because we are not interacting with our environment as our true selves.

If this sounds like you and faking it has not helped you gain any happiness or confidence there is something else you can try. Re-framing to a neutral, functional, or realistic way of thinking can feel more authentic. For example, while body positivity is a beautiful movement of acceptance, positivity can feel fake to someone who has practiced body negativity towards themselves for so long. So instead of waking up one morning and trying to deceive yourself into thinking “I love everything about my body and I feel great!” try shifting to something like “Even though I don’t like this part of my body, at least it is functioning properly.” Or “I don’t love this part of myself yet, but I am working towards acceptance and kindness.”

At the forefront of this shift in thinking are the ideas of self-compassion, kindness, authenticity, and acceptance. We don’t have to sugarcoat or imitate anything. We can be realistic about where we currently are and practice kindness at the same time. You do have to be willing to work to challenge your automatic, negative, or self-deprecating thought patterns. Think about how long you’ve practiced doubting yourself in one way or another. How has this helped you? Why not at least try neutralizing those debilitating thoughts in order to give yourself even footing, instead of knocking yourself down before you even have a chance to begin?

Pretending is exhausting. Acting as if you have already reached the finish line or already know how to do something does not insight growth or learning. How can we learn to be confident or competent if we go around the world acting as if we already are? There is power in recognizing where you stand and reaching for those growth opportunities in spite of the self-doubt. When negativity is weighing you down and positivity feels like too far of a jump, try working with a neutral perspective instead. This is a middle ground and a step towards realizing authentic positivity, confidence, competence, or whatever you are striving for.


About Jasmine Payne: 

Jasmine is a Resident in Counseling and provides services at the Fredericksburg location. She is a two-time graduate of Longwood University, receiving her B.S. in Psychology along with an M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Throughout her graduate studies, Jasmine worked with teens and adults who belonged to various minority and multicultural populations. She currently sits on the executive board for VA-ALGBTIC and has over a year of experience working with this specific community. She also has familiarity with a wide spectrum of mental health concerns including anxiety/depression, grief, belonging, high stress, moodiness, self-improvement, motivation, relationship issues, substance use, and many more.

Jasmine provides a person-centered and existential approach while utilizing solution-based and cognitive-behavioral interventions. All that boils down to a counselor who understands the role our individual cultural identities play in our lives and believes the client is the expert on their experience. She works with you to pinpoint the presenting problem, and then helps to find practical solutions and identify strengths. She believes in getting to the root of our core beliefs to discover how they impact our daily life and influence the patterns of our relationships. Jasmine strives to build a foundation with her clients to learn their stories and help support their vision.

She works under the supervision of Alycia Burant, LPC, NCC. In the event clients have any questions or concerns about Jasmine’s work, her supervisor can be contacted at 950 N. Washington St. Suite 322 Alexandria VA 22314, 540-845-6940, or aburant@healthyminds-therapy.com

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.