I noticed something interesting the other day.
This is my daughter, Kelly.
This picture was taken on the day of her 7th grade graduation. We curled her hair, she had a little makeup on, wore a cute little dress…she was looking pretty darn spiffy. Well, later that evening, she and I had to be at theatre rehearsal. (She was cast as Annie in our local theatre’s upcoming production – if you haven’t already heard me mention that about 3,000 times. I’m just a little bit proud.) She still had her hair curled, still had the little dress on, etc. And something interesting happened. When she stepped on that stage that night, she did the best she had ever done.
Now, granted, my daughter is capable of playing this role. She is beyond capable. But with this being her first large role (first speaking role, even), she’s a bit nervous and a little reserved. Up to this point, she hadn’t found her ‘sea legs,’ so to speak. But by golly, she was swimming that night. That girl was spot on. I saw more spunk and confidence than I had seen thus far.
After rehearsal, I told her what a great job she had done and asked what made her come alive like she did. She said, “I don’t know. I had my hair all curly and a dress on…I guess I just felt like Annie.”
“I guess I just felt like Annie.”
Kinda profound when you think about it. She dressed the part, so she felt like the part. Simple as that.
So, how does that apply to the rest of us?
Granted, I know we’re not all title characters in a musical. Most of us are just out here floating about in our regular everyday lives trying to make it through the day without any major catastrophes. But I think I just learned a pretty good lesson from my 13-year-old daughter. Whatever I want (need?) to be, I just have to “dress the part.”
Let’s take my running for example. Now, I’ve heard a lot of runners have mentioned this before so I’m not alone in this thought process. Sometimes I just don’t feel like running. I just don’t. I know I need to, I know I’ll feel good when it’s over, but none of that matters. I’m just tired and I don’t feel like it. But as soon as I put on my running clothes and running shoes…suddenly, I’m transformed. I went from a lazy bum on the couch who didn’t feel like doing anything at all, to an all-out runner who is raring to go. It’s that simple. I dress like a runner, so I feel like a runner.
Now, that’s a literal example. But maybe this can be applied in a not-so-literal way. Maybe it’s not always an outfit.
Maybe if you want to be a certain thing, you just have to pretend like you are that thing. You know?
You want to be happy? Dress the part. Slap on a smile and be happy. The first time you do it, you may just feel dumb…smiling for no reason like that like a big dummy. But the second time you do it, who knows? You might actually start to feel a little better. The third? Maybe even better. Eventually your smiles will not only fool other people into thinking that you’re actually happy…you might even start to fool yourself. How about that?
Dress the part.
You want to forgive someone who hurt you? Act like you have. Seriously. Just act like that. When those negative thoughts pop into your mind, tell yourself that that person is forgiven. You don’t have to mean it. Just say it. Again – at first, it will feel silly. You’ll feel like a liar. But the next time? Maybe it will feel like a little less of a lie. The next time? Even less. Eventually, maybe it just might not be a lie. Maybe it’ll even become the truth.
Maybe you can put on that little imaginary cloak of forgiveness and finally – finally – just move on.
Dress the part.
Fill in the blank with whatever you need to fill it in with. You want to be a more positive person? Act like you’re a positive person. You want to be a better friend? Be a better friend. You want to trust someone? Trust them.
You want to love someone? Love them.
Dress the part.
Start with baby steps. Then bigger steps. Then keep increasing your stride until you’re moving at full speed.
YOU alone have the power to change everything.
“Endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”