Acting “as if”

Over the weekend, I was in Charlotte, NC to participate in my first Avon 2-Day Breast Cancer Walk. Over the two days, we walked a total of 39.3 miles. I trained for it but the longest distance I had walked was 15 miles so I was anxious about my ability to complete the route.

Then my friend Michelle, a veteran participant who walked with me, gave me a gift—something to focus on. She said, “Whenever you feel tired or your feet hurt like crazy, just remember that on Monday, when this is all over, you can go back to the comforts of your life.  Cancer patients don’t have that choice.”  Her pearls of wisdom made the walk relatively easy for me.

You see, there are many women in my life who have or are survivors of breast cancer (and by the way, men can get it, too). My friend Gayna is currently in the middle of treatment and in horrendous pain. Jacque, a subscriber to my column emailed to thank me for doing the walk, writing that she was sitting with a frozen bag of peas on her chest recovering from bilateral breast surgery. Several friends and family members get re-checked each year and then wait anxiously to hear whether the cancer is still gone.

The Law of Attraction dictates that you get more of what you focus on. These walks provide a way for thousands of people worldwide to focus on two things:  early detection and finding a cure.  Along the route, we met two sisters who were doing their seventh walk together in as many years. (There are walks scheduled each year in nine cities.) They told us they are focused on the cure being found just when they complete their ninth walk in two years.  That’s a beautiful focal point and a great use of “acting as if.”

On my way to catch a flight home this morning, I was riding down an escalator at the Atlanta airport and was reminded once again how “acting as if” can boost one’s mood.

I looked around and spotted several people who looked, shall we say, out of sorts.  Once I saw it in them, I wondered how I looked.  I decided to set my face in an expression that said I was having fun.  In no time at all, I actually was!

You see, your brain does not know the difference between pretend and reality.  If you smile or laugh or sing, it receives a clear signal that you are in a good mood and responds by sending into your system chemicals that actually make you feel that way.  When you focus on the victims of cancer you are walking for, you barely feel the pain in your feet.  It is an amazing tool you can tap at any time, under any circumstance.

Actors use this technique all the time and have to be careful with it.  I recall reading an interview with the talented Sir Anthony Hopkins. He was relating an experience of acting in a movie where his character had a heart attack.  He said that this particular director was famous for doing upwards of 15 takes for one scene. Because Hopkins was concerned about the impact faking a heart attack would have on him, he firmly told the director that he’d better get it right in two takes because that was all Hopkins was willing to do. Such wisdom.

On the other hand, had I been Vince Vaughn or Owen Wilson in the film The Wedding Crashers, I would have wanted to redo many of the scenes over and over, just because they were so much fun!  What an impact that particular focus would have!

Whether you are fighting cancer, walking to raise funds for a cure, or simply wanting to have a good day, what you focus on matters.  Remember, your brain doesn’t know the difference between when you are pretending and when something is actually happening. Put “acting as if” in your toolbox to attract more of what you want.  It’s a simple concept. It’s not always easy to do but this is one exercise worth doing over and over until you master it.

Focus, focus, focus….

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