Mindfulness-Based Self-Compassion
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Chronic Illness Q&A with Dr. B.

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

This question & answer column is for people living with chronic health challenges and their family caregivers, who want to learn to increase the odds of improving their health by learning to live with mastery & wellbeing.

I invite you to post your questions in the comments box below. When I get a certain number of related questions, I pick one that covers them all and I answer that one.

I post to this blog three times per week. Monday posts are relevant published articles. Wednesday posts are interviews—mostly video. Friday posts consist of questions about living better with chronic health challenges, and my answers to them.

Here is this week’s question:

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION:  Would you say more about the technique you describe as Act As If.

ANSWER:  When I used to lead workshops, I would have everyone walk slowly around the room, interacting with each other with their heads down, shoulders slumped, and with their faces in sad or fearful expressions. Then, I would have them walk around interacting with each other with our heads and shoulders held high, and with a relaxed and confident facial expression. We would do variations where half the people acted confident and relaxed, while the other half acted depressed and anxious or fearful.

Participants were often amazed to discover that acting a certain way actually catalyzed the mental and emotional states corresponding with the outward behavior. 

If you want to live with greater self-efficacy and wellbeing, pay close attention to those who exude the attributes you admire. Spend a lot of time observing them. Then, start pretending to be a person you admire.

I had spent nine months in acting school with absolutely no interest in being an actor. What I learned was that taking on the attributes of someone I admired served to give me a new somatic experience, which, when practiced on a regular basis, allowed me to actually have the attributes I wanted. People’s reactions to me then reinforced the behavior I desired to make my own. Although the ideal is to just be yourself, the technique of  Acting As If can help you to shape your behavior, and as people increasingly react to you in more positive ways, your new behavior will become authentic. 

This website is offered as a free public service, supplying information that has been found helpful to certain people living with chronic health challenges. No treatment is offered on this website. The advice is general, and may or may not apply to your individual situation, and is not a substitute for psychotherapy or medical treatment.

What questions do you have about how to live better with chronic health challenges that are related to the relationship between states of mind and health? 

Just scroll down and type your question in the comment box. I will post a reply to your comment, but your question may not appear in this column. 

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