Are you letting someone else's actions determine the way you live your life?
If your spouse or boss or sibling or parent is treating you terribly or acting in ways that upset you, does your automatic response to them come from a place of anger, annoyance or bitterness?
What if you decided to change the interaction, on your own?
I'm reading Susan Page's book Why Talking Is Not Enough: 8 Loving Actions That Will Transform Your Marriage. Chapter 4 is called "Act As If." One of my favorite ideas from this chapter is a real revelation to most people:
"You don't have to behave the way you feel. You have a choice. You can feel angry and frustrated inside and acknowledge your feelings, but behave in a loving way. Not as a thinly veiled disguise. Not as a passive-aggressive strategy (being nice with a big fist right behind your smile). Nor as a manipulation. But as a deliberate, spiritual exercise."
But why? Why should our actions be anything other than a natural extension of how we feel?
"Acting As If" will help you become more positive, will help you feel better about yourself, and may even bring the "as if" into reality.
Here's an experiment that Susan Page suggests at the end of the chapter. I challenge you to try it out:
1. In your journal, write your answer to this question: If you were completely in love with your spouse, how would you behave? You may want to write a paragraph or make a list. Let your imagination take over.
2. Set a specific time - from five minutes to an evening or a full day - to set aside any tensions you are feeling with your partner right now and act as if you are a loving, adoring partner.
3. The next time you feel angry or hurt or have a conflict with your partner, make a point of trying to act as if. Look for an opportunity and try it. Acknowledge your feelings, but know that you do not have to act them out. You have a choice. Try something different this time.
4. Record what you did in your journal and how it turned out.
Give it a shot. Act as if!