The connection between our public and private personas is a complex one. We sometimes put on a public face when we are with others or in a particular environment. We may have learned to hide our true and private feelings and thoughts behind what is effectively a mask. There are times when this is particularly appropriate and useful. In some work or business environments for example. Showing our real feelings or appearing vulnerable can be risky in some of those situations.
However, this disconnect can also prove to be unhelpful as we can lose sight of our real feelings. We can be most congruent and real when we are true to ourselves, feel comfortable sharing what we believe and openly talking about our feelings. This is the core essence of emotional intelligence. Where we recognise that emotions are always present and we can actively harness them to make all areas of our lives more satisfying and productive.
We also know that our behaviors and feelings are really closely connected. They influence each other and are open to being changed if we are aware and engage with them. We know that we can change the way we feel about things by thinking about them differently.
Drawing on these ideas then, we might be able to find ways to build our confidence in situations where we feel uncertain or unhappy. By changing our thoughts about a situation we may just be able to change our feelings and then ultimately the outcome of a situation.
A classic example of this is when we go for a job interview. By "acting as if" we are in the job and are competent we will be able to sell ourselves and show that we are the right person for the job. By placing ourselves in our mind in that role we will present more confidently and be better able to draw out the strengths and capacities we actually have. Sometimes until that point we may not even know what we actually know so there could be a surprise element for ourselves.
Another time when we can "act as if" is when we visualise ourselves doing something. Perhaps something like facing a difficult meeting with our child's school, public speaking or even going to the dentist. We know that visualisation is powerful in helping us to gain control over a situation and preparing ourselves. It is one of the tools that elite athletes use to prepare for major sporting events. When we visualise ourselves doing something we place ourselves in the realm of success, we remind ourselves of our strengths and start to build the confidence we need to make the most out of situations.
We can also start to use this "acting as if" idea in our day to day life. If we feel a bit tired or miserable, not wanting to engage in conversation with others, by acting as if we do we can find ourselves in a situation where we are actually engaging and enjoying ourselves. We may no longer feel tired or so miserable. Another example of how our behavior and thoughts can change the way we feel.
All of this can lead us to feel more positive about our lives. To gain a sense of confidence and calm during challenging times. To take the risks we need to take to continue to grow and develop. And importantly to get through each day being the best we can be.