When’s the last time you acted like the person you know yourself to be? Is what you think or say about who you are reflected in what you actually do? If not, is that necessarily a bad thing in the end?
Do you tell yourself and others that you are a clean person and love a clean house, yet you tend to let the housekeeping go, only whipping things into shape when you know company will be coming over?
Do you think of yourself as charitable and giving, yet never actually get around to volunteering, helping out, or making that donation?
Do you long to get your college degree, knowing in your heart that you’re smarter than most people you know with Bachelors or Masters degrees or people at work who get promoted over you, yet you never actually enroll in college to get your own degree?
Do you patriotically criticize the government and politicians, countering what you hear with your own ideas of how things should be run in this country, yet never write a letter to your Senator, attend a Town Hall meeting, or join in on a protest or petition?
It’s so easy to get caught up in thinking or talking about who you are and about what you’re going to do, yet never actually get around to following through on it. Actually, we often avoid taking action, because, deep inside, we’re not so certain we can deliver, and we’d rather not find out for sure. Everyone knows this can be a bad thing, stopping you from fulfilling your potential, but the dirty little secret is that it can be a good thing, too.
Fooling yourself into believing you’re a person who is not really who you are can be a very useful survival tool. The more you visual something, the more you trick your brain into believing it’s true. This is the key to positive thinking and visualization techniques used to help a person build confidence and achieve new goals. But what happens to you if all this positive thinking leaves you so safe and comfortable, so pleased with yourself, that you don’t actually follow it up with action and risk destroying the illusion? It can stop you from achieving greater goals, but if those goals are unrealistic, it can leave you feeling far better about yourself than the facts ever could.
Always seeing yourself as being a certain way, but never actually challenging this vision, is like creating a mental statute of yourself. You have this static, set in stone self-image that never changes–so long as you never have to do anything to live up to this image. This can be a bad thing for you, if your self-image is negative and keeps you from maximizing your potential. But what if you don’t really have what it takes to be what you think you are? Is it so bad to live in a fool’s paradise?
Will Rogers said, “We can’t all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.” Despite the flood of motivational platitudes that you can be anything you want to be, do anything you want to do, are special, exceptional, or any of the other out of the ordinary labels we are all being pressured to live up to, most people are average–and are being made to feel bad about it. There cannot be “exceptional” without “ordinary.” There cannot be winners, without losers. Since when did being ordinary become a crime? There is great stability and comfort in being ordinary, but today’s culture won’t allow you to feel good about it. So, if imagining yourself as being better than you are creates a mental safe zone that makes you feel better about yourself in a world that would judge you harshly for the truth, leave the truth untested. Ignorance–yours and the world’s–really can be bliss.
Don’t think naked! The power of positive thinking can do wonders to inspire action, but failure to act on it can keep you living in a fantasy, which is not always such a bad thing. Life is hard, and circumstances can be very unfair. The next time you see someone who’s “fooling” themselves, cut them some slack. Sometimes the world you image is a far nicer place to live.