You Become What You Pretend to Be

Your attitude influences your behavior and the other way around, so in essence, you can become what you pretend to be. 

By adjusting your attitudes and behaviors to embody what you want to be, you automatically and naturally assume the role as a reality. 

A Prime Example of How You Become What You Pretend to Be

Michelangelo believed he was the greatest artist in the world and could create masterpieces using any medium.

His rivals persuaded Junius II to hire him to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel because they knew Michelangelo had rarely used color and had never painted in fresco.

They were sure he would turn down the commission due to his inexperience.

They planned to use his refusal as proof of his lack of talent.

If he accepted it, they were convinced the result would be clownish and planned to use it to point out his inadequacies in the art world.

But Michelangelo accepted the commission.

Because he had the attitude of a great artist, his behavior followed.

Going through the motions and practicing with colors and painting in fresco endlessly, he became an expert in the technique.

He executed the frescos in significant discomfort, having to work with his face looking upwards, which impaired his sight so badly that he could not read save his head turned backward for months.

By acting upon his belief that he could create anything, he made the masterpiece that established him as the artist of the age.

Attitude Influences Behavior

Tibetan monks say their prayers by whirling their prayer wheels on which their prayers are inscribed.

The whirling wheels spin the prayers into divine space.

Sometimes, a monk will keep a dozen prayer wheels rotating like some juggling act in which whirling plates are balanced on top of long thin sticks.

Many novice monks are not that emotionally or spiritually involved at first.

It may be that the novice is thinking about his family, his doubts about a religious vocation, or something else while he is spinning his prayer wheel.

When the novice adopts the pose of a monk and makes it evident to themselves and others by playing a role, their brain will soon follow the position they are playing.

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It is not enough for the novice to intend to become a monk: the beginner must act like a monk and rotate the prayer wheels.

If one intends to become a monk and goes through the motions of acting like a monk, one will become a monk.

Dali is Another Great Example That You Become What You Pretend to Be

His fellow students at the Madrid art academy described the great surrealist artist Salvador Dali as “morbidly” shy, according to his biographer Ian Gibson.

He had a great fear of blushing, and his shame about being ashamed drove him into solitude.

His uncle gave him the sage advice to become an actor in his relations with the people around him.

He instructed him to pretend he was an extrovert and to act like an extrovert with everyone, including his closest companions.

Dali did just that to disguise his mortification.

Every day he went through the motions of being an extrovert, and eventually, he became celebrated as the most extroverted, fearless, uninhibited, and gregarious personality of his time.

He became what he pretended to be.

Every time we pretend to have an attitude and go through the motions, we trigger the emotions we create and strengthen the attitude we wish to cultivate.

If you want to become an artist and go through the motions of being an artist by painting a picture every day, you will become an artist.

You may not become another Vincent Van Gogh, but you will create the attitude of an artist, and you will become more of an artist than someone who has never tried.

The Secret of Mona Lisa’s Smile

Think, for a moment, about social occasions-visits, dates, dinners out with friends, gatherings, birthday parties, weddings, etc.

Even when we’re unhappy or depressed, these occasions force us to act as if we were happy.

Observing others’ faces, postures, and voices, we unconsciously mimic their reactions.

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We synchronize our movements, posture, and tone of voice with theirs.

Then by mimicking happy people, we become happy.

You begin to behave like the people around you, which influences your attitude.

Leonardo da Vinci also observed that it’s no mystery why it is fun to be around happy people and depressing to be around depressed people.

He also observed the melancholy that painters usually give to portraits.

He attributed that to the solitariness of the artist and their joyless environment.

According to Giorgio Vasari (1568), while painting the Mona Lisa, Leonardo employed singers, musicians, and jesters to chase away his melancholy as he painted.

The musicians and jesters forced him to laugh and be joyful.

This behavior created an attitude of joy and pleasure as he painted.

As a result, he painted a smile so pleasing that it seemed divine and as alive as the original.

Even Facial Expressions Can Change Your Emotions

CIA researchers have long been interested in developing techniques to help them study the facial expressions of suspects.

Two researchers began simulating facial expressions of anger and distress all day for weeks.

One of them admitted feeling terrible after a session of making those faces.

Then the other realized that he felt poorly, too, so they began to keep track.

They began monitoring their body during facial movements.

Their findings were remarkable.

They discovered that a facial expression alone can create marked changes in the nervous system.

In one exercise, they raised their inner eyebrows, raised their cheeks, lowered the corner of their lips, and held this facial expression for a few minutes.

They were stunned to discover that this simple facial expression generated feelings of sadness and anguish within them.

The researchers then decided to monitor two groups of people’s heart rates and body temperatures.

One group was asked to remember and relive the most sorrowful experience in their life.

The other group in another room was simply asked to produce a series of facial expressions expressing sadness.

Remarkably, the second group, the people pretending, showed the same physiological responses as the first.

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In a further experiment, the CIA researchers had one group of subjects listen to recordings of top comedians and look at a series of cartoons while holding a pen between their lips.

This action makes it impossible to smile.

Another group held a pen between their teeth, which had the opposite effect and made them smile.

The people with the pen between their teeth rated the comedians and cartoons much funnier than the other group.

What’s more, neither group of subjects knew they were making expressions of emotion.

Amazingly, an expression you do not even know you have can create an emotion you did not choose to feel.

This illustrates how just “faking it” can help you become what you pretend to be.

Try This Experiment

Emotion doesn’t just go from the inside out.

It goes from the outside in.

Try the following experiment to see how behavior and attitude are connected.

  • Lower your eyebrows
  • raise your upper eyelid
  • narrow the eyelids
  • Press your lips together

Hold this expression, and you will generate anger.

Your heartbeat will go up ten or twelve beats.

Your hands will get hot, and you will feel very unpleasant.

Try this the next time you’re depressed and want to feel happy and positive.

Put a pen between your teeth far enough to stretch the edges of your mouth back without feeling uncomfortable.

This will force a smile.

Hold it there for five minutes or so.

You’ll find yourself inexplicably in a happy mood.

Then try walking with long strides and looking straight ahead.

You will amaze yourself at how fast your facial expressions can change your emotions.

What Else Can You Do to Become What You Pretend to Be?

Do you have anything else you can add to this list on how to embody what you want to become?

Have you ever tried any of the above techniques?

If so, did they work for you?

Be sure to let us know in the comment section!

We would love to hear from you.

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