Toward the end of his terrific new philosophical investigation, “Keep It Fake: Inventing an Authentic Life,” Eric G. Wilson admits that, as with many of us, learning how to be a good dad was something he had a tough time figuring out. On the cusp of fatherhood he was working too much, and drinking too much — sound familiar? — and battling depression. But he had the good sense and good luck to find an excellent psychiatrist.
“Dr. S. maintained — no, bellowed, for he was a crazy man, not afraid to go to the floor and scream to make a point — that I would never be able to be a good father or husband, or indeed person in general, and never be able to find a jot of joy until I stopped treating my depression as a tyrant determining all my moves. I needed a new narrative.
“ ‘Go home, Eric,’ Dr. S. urged. ‘You’re an English major guy and so should enjoy this; construct a new book of life, a novel in which you as protagonist have power and grace.’ ”
Keep It Fake: Inventing an Authentic Life
Eric G. Wilson
Act Your Way into Right Thinking – The Gospel of relaxation
One of my favorite ‘tricks’ came from a psychotherapy client I worked with years ago. He suffered from episodic bouts of severe depression. After a while, he figured out a way to handle the depression while working a complex career position. When he woke up in the morning, if he felt the symptoms of depression, he would pretend that he was an actor in a movie. After he would shower, he would stare into his bathroom mirror and shout out loud to himself Action! He would then act as if he was a non-depressed movie character.
The point of this exercise was to temporarily get out of his depressed mode and act as if he were a non-depressed business person going to work and completing his daily routine. I thought this was a clever short term psychological technique of not allowing the depressive symptoms to overtake his life. Many times, people will allow the symptoms to keep them from functioning in their daily lives, making the symptoms even worse, a vicious circle soon occurs.
Sometimes, if you act as if long enough, you become that role…for good or for bad.
see also No Stupid Questions: Does “As If” Thinking Really Work? (NSQ Ep. 12)