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  Chapter 20 from
Courage
Formulas, stories and insights

By Rabbi Zelig Pliskin 


Other Available Chapters
4  41  57  65 


Act "As If"

“What if I feel that I don’t have any courage at all within me, not even a tiny courage part?”

There is a powerful tool that will help with courage and many other attributes: Act “as if” you had as much courage as you need. Do not do this to prove to anyone else that you have courage. Rather, do this in order to access a state of courage. As you speak and act “as if” you had courage, you will be integrating and internalizing this trait. Eventually you will have genuine attitudes and feelings of courage.

Experience is a great antidote to fear. If you are afraid to do something and you actually do it a number of times, it gets easier. When you do something by acting “as if” you had the courage to do it, the actual experiences automatically build up your knowledge that you can do the thing that you previously feared to do.

Take care not to sabotage your efforts. As you act “as if” you had courage, do not tell yourself, “What I’m doing is not really courage, since I am just acting ‘as if.’ ” If you define your words and actions as “not really courage,” you needlessly limit yourself. It takes courage to act “as if” you had courage. Since this is an actual manifestation of courage, you have a 100 percent right to consider your words “words of courage” and your actions “actions of courage.”

I needed a job. Even so I procrastinated and delayed going on job interviews. I found them too nerve wracking. I went for a few, but when I got turned down I needed a few days to recuperate and to build up my strength.

“Call on your inner courage,” I was told.

“My inner courage is so weak that it can’t speak above a whisper,” I replied.

During this time, I read that if you act “as if” you were joyous, this increases your actual level of joy. This is even measurable on biofeedback machines and with the hormones in one’s blood. “If this works for joy, perhaps it can work for courage,” I said to myself.

The next day I was resolved to go for at least three interviews. Each time I walked through the door I would say to myself, “I am now going to act ‘as if’ I had tremendous courage. I will feel the way I would feel if I had total confidence. I will walk and talk the way I would if I were to have intense courage.”

I still didn’t feel as strong as someone who is naturally courageous. But this did give me a greater feeling of courage than I ever had before. I guess that this helped me make a better impression on the person doing the hiring, and the third interview was a success.

Since then I have used the power of “as if” many times. The way I am improving I feel certain that in the near future I won’t need this tool. My courage will be spontaneous and automatic.

Reading about a professional stuntman changed my life. He was famous for engaging in the most dangerous stunts humanly possible.

“How are you able to not be afraid?” he was asked.

“I’m not able to,” he smiled.

“But you look so confident when you perform your amazing stunts,” he was challenged. “The vast majority of humanity are too frightened to do even less frightening things.”

“I’m a normal human being,” he replied. “Sure, I’m scared. But I behave as if I wasn’t and take action.”

I don’t have to do anything resembling what he does. So I, too, began to act as if I had more courage and I now say and do positive things that I would never have believed I would be able to say and do. I consistently surprise myself.

 
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