Pretend

“Your worst battle is between what you know and what you feel.” I read that on Twitter: Amazing Facts @factsoup. Ain’t it the truth! I’m always battling what I feel. I have a good life but I’m anxious. I watch the beauty of my backyard from my porch but I’m depressed.

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I’m always fighting to be the “ideal.” Smart, funny, honest, well-spoken, in charge, respected, but in reality, I say the wrong things; I’m not always smart and I’m not sure that anyone would respect my handling of this jumbled up life that became mine. I’ve begun to think of that jumble as a patchwork quilt. Some patches have tears, some have smiles, some are black with depression and some have a cartoon bubble of laughs, “Ha ha ha!”

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In DBT we look to change the emotions we do not want. There are skills to look at emotions as just emotions, passing by. We make a choice to be mindful of current emotions, act on them and problem solve or do not act on the emotion urge and consider opposite action.

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I read a novel called “Pretending to Dance” by Diane Chamberlain. In it the father is a psychiatrist that practices “Pretend Therapy” in which you pretend you are happy or that you love something that you hate or are afraid of. Although this is a fiction novel, the premise of pretending seemed like a smart idea to me.

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It’s kind of like my “Be a Word” strategy where I pick a word that encompasses what I want to be and then all day I try to become that word. It’s practicing opposite action where you do the opposite of what you’re feeling like doing when what you feel like doing might be harmful or not the best choice. This is easier said than done and like all DBT skills it takes practice, a practice I have not yet beat.

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But that doesn’t stop me from trying to beat it. It doesn’t stop me from looking at the true facts of my life instead of the feelings. From separating my feelings from me. They do not define me!

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It’s getting a grip on reality by making a choice to put aside those debilitating emotions and embrace the day. Staying happy and enjoying being with God is a choice. God created us with an enormous capacity to enjoy Him. Don’t let things that people say or do rob you of your happiness.

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Start to pretend to see the beauty of something and mindfully allow emotions to come and go. In some of my Mindfulness exercises I take a Bible verse and play it out in my mind, inserting myself into the story. That’s a form of pretending. But it can be so meaningful as you imagine yourself sitting with Jesus or walking on water.

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You may think that true facts and pretending are opposite things, but when your emotions don’t fit the facts of the situation, pretending you feel as the true facts deem you should feel is really embracing reality and fending off those lying thoughts.

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Does your mind always go to the worst conclusion? That’s a negative form of pretending. You are pretending you know the outcome and expecting the worst. Isn’t it easier and more calming to let Jesus take on worrying about your future? We don’t have to pretend that He already knows what’s in store for us because we know He does. His word tells us not to worry about the future. His word tells us that we can be calm in His presence. No need to pretend at that!

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Emotions don’t always fit the facts. The facts are what’s going on right now-not what might happen in the future. My sister Sherri is going through the worst surgery of her life. She has an aggressive tumor and needs to have her jaw removed. She will be in ICU, she will have to have a feeding tube, she will need to learn to swallow and talk all over again. A million things could go wrong, but Sherri is determined to beat the odds. She will beat the timeframe of the feeding tube. She will beat the amount of time she stays in the hospital. She will beat the goals to swallow and talk. She says she is “above average.”

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I guess you could say she is pretending that she will overcome the odds. Pretending can lead to action which leads to reality. Faith is a big part of her life. Sure, she could be wallowing in self-pity and thinking the worst, but the facts are that the worst hasn’t happened and may never happen. With her positive mindset and her faith, the odds are with her.

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“Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.” Mark, 11:22-23

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