The Power in the way we Think

Posts tagged ‘the power of language’

Fake It Until You Make It

The language we use can be very powerful. It can mean the difference between getting what we want and being disappointed, over and over again. It can be the difference between experiencing joy and gratitude, or sadness and despair. We can wonder why things never go the way we want them to, or we can do something about it by taking small steps each day that lead us closer to our goal. Our chosen path is very dependent upon our mindset; the words we have in our heads, the things we tell ourselves. 

Cassandra Webb is an author. Tomorrow she will be appearing at an event on the Gold Coast, signing copies of her very first book. It took her a lot of effort, grit and determination to get to this point. She didn’t always believe she could do it, but by taking small steps each day, she has created her dream and made it happen. She has used the power of language to support her. This is the story of how she made it happen. 


Life is all about attitude and mindset right? Confidence and self-esteem. What about for a writer, sitting alone in their little (in my case messy) office? Not long ago I came across the saying, ‘Fake It Until You Make it’ and I’ve been trying to live by it ever since. This is how.

If writing was my ‘job’ I’d have a start time, a finish time, and a certain standard of work in order to not get fired. At present writing doesn’t pay enough of the bills for my husband to allow me to call it my ‘job’. But I have a “three thousand words a day” goal. I sit down and work my butt off to achieve this goal every day. I sacrifice meals and T.V., sleep and evenings out to get the job done. Because one day I will make it, and writing will be my ‘job’, until then I’m just going to fake it.

A professional [insert your desired field] has a certain way of presenting themselves. Even an amateur soccer player still runs onto the field in all the right gear. So even though I’m not a ‘professional’ writer, time and consideration is still required before I sit behind my little stall at the markets. Yes, I’m ‘faking it’, but I’m not going to sell any copies of my book sitting at the markets in my swimwear unless my book involves swimming. The same goes for a job interview with a law firm. If you turn up looking like a mechanic fresh from under a car you’re chances of success are pretty low.

‘Faking it’ means trying to be the best you can, even when you think the limits are beyond you at the moment. It doesn’t mean slipping into a mindset that allows you to believe you are already the best there is. It’s a hard distinction that involves being your own best friend and worst critic at the same time.

If you could peep through my window when I’m editing you’d probably think I’m insane. According to me I’ve written a masterpiece, but everyone gets rejection letters and I’ll be crying and laughing and patting myself on the back whilst I hack up my beautiful literary baby and try to make the masterpiece worthy of a publisher. You can’t ‘fake’ good writing, but the professional attitude of someone who can improve through criticism? Yes you can fake that.

I signed up for my first big event this year. It’s called Indie Authors Down Under and it will be held at the Gold Coast on the 22nd of March.

When I put my name down and secured my little stall three months ago I didn’t even have a book in print. The printed version was available through Amazon, but I didn’t have any copies to physically sell myself! I was drowning just in the idea of have to talk to so many people and try to ‘sell’ them something.

There was nothing for it. I could have let the opportunity pass or I could ‘fake it’. With the help of my local writers group we got together and held a market stall over the Christmas period. I needed to do a test or dry run. The same way some couples do a pre-birth rush to the hospital to check they know the way and how long it will take etc. I was nervous, and for those of you who don’t know me I suffer from anxiety so nervous is an understatement. I had muscle spasms running across my back, and an ache from the tension in my jaw, my hands were noticeably shaking and all I wanted to do was get out of there.

There was only one thing for it; I had to ‘fake it’.

I squared my shoulders, mentally told myself to smile, and began shaking hands. It wasn’t easy, but it also didn’t kill me and amazingly two fantastic locals purchased my book.

We all have a different idea of what exactly ‘making it’ means. Some successful writers have million dollar bank balances, others have the luxury of a household name or movie deals. And maybe all of the above would be nice, but even those writers who have ‘made it’ still feel like lounging around the house in their old socks with their hair undone some days and on those day’s even they have to fake it.

I’ll be ‘faking it’ on the Gold Coast on the 22nd of March, and if you happen to come along to the Indie Authors Down Under event I’d love to see you.

This is the event:

And this is me:


They made me ………

“He made me angry” “She upset me”, “They make me so frustrated!”

Do these comments sound familiar to you? Have you ever heard your friends or family using them, or caught them coming out of your own mouth? If so, then this post is for you.

How are our emotions “created”? Many people believe that they come out of nowhere. Essentially, that emotions spontaneously create themselves and we have no control over them. The reality is that they occur after something happens. Some kind of event. You might see something, you might hear something, or even feel it. Your senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch) come into play. And emotion is the result.

The diagram below shows an example of how this works. Let’s say that you have grown up with people telling you that you’re an idiot. Most of us know that if we are told something often enough, we start believing it. So when we get given the “data” from our senses, our internal programming jumps up and shouts at us: “You’re an idiot, how could you do/be that” etc.

You might feel angry toward the person who said it, along with an internal sense of sadness and worthlessness. You’ll also feel the physical sensations that come along for the ride. The racing heart, the muscle tension, heaviness like your body wants to sink into the ground, and so on.

CBT diagram 1

I regularly hear statements like “he/she/they made me feel upset/angry/sad/nervous” (insert appropriate words that fit your experiences). There is often a feeling of being disempowered, like the emotion has all the say in what “it” wants to do.

Think about it. When you have an event, you experience that event through your senses. You HEAR comments, you SEE people and body language, you FEEL things against your body, you SMELL aromas, you TOUCH objects. And when your senses do their job, the information they obtain is taken into your brain. Your brain processes the data it has just collected, makes judgments about it and interprets it. In psychological terms, it undergoes a cognitive process. In other words, it THINKS.

The interpretation that comes out is impacted by a combination of all the experiences we have had between the time we were born. Culture, family, school, social interactions. All of these influence the way we think and interpret the events in our lives. An example of the process is outlined in the diagram below – someone says the words “You’re an idiot”, your ears hear those words, takes them in and your brain calls on all of your previous life experiences. It then goes through a thinking process, makes judgments and spits out the verdict. “I shouldn’t have done that”, “I’m such an idiot!” and so on. As a consequence of these thoughts, you may feel angry, sad and worthless.

CBT diagram 2

It’s important to note that this entire process, from when you first hear the words to you feeling the emotions, happens in less than a split second! In less than the time it takes to click your fingers, your brain has already given you those thoughts and probably another 50 variations on the theme.

Think for a moment about the first time you learned how to drive a car (or when you did anything for the first time). When you got behind the wheel you had to think about where to place your feet, your hands, which buttons you needed to press, when you needed to indicate, who/what was outside the car and where they/it might be located, when to accelerate, brake, and if the car had a manual transmission, when to change gears. Pretty confusing and challenging, right?! Now think about driving after you’ve practiced for a while. Ever had the experience of driving through a set of lights and then suddenly half turning your head back and asking yourself, “was that light green?” Your driving skills have become so practiced that they are now automatic and you can do it without thinking about it consciously.

Our cognitive processes are exactly the same. We learn how to think! We get used to thinking certain things about ourselves and become so practiced at it that it becomes automatic. Useless, worthless, idiot, stupid, silly, etc. And we believe all those things, we take them inside ourselves and they become a part of our identity, at the very core of our being. So, when we hear the words once again, “You’re an idiot”, our automatic thoughts jump in without us even being aware of it.

This is the key. If our emotions are a result of the cognitive processes inside our heads, it means that nobody can make us feel anything. Knowing and really understanding this gives us power and choice. It means that our emotions are our responsibility.

The next question becomes, given that this is an automatic process, what can we do to make some changes so that we have control? The first step is to become more aware of our automatic thoughts. Try picking yourself up on your thoughts and write them down when you catch them popping into your head.

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