As we are talking about dropping the “act” and getting to know yourself this month, we thought we would include an exercise that Susan wrote for Dare to Connect.
As an exercise, identify as many of your own personal ACTS as you can. You can really have a lot of fun with this if you invite a few caring friends over and spend an evening discussing everyone’s favorite ACTS. Good friends can help point out some you didn’t even know you had! Sharing with others is also a great way for us to lighten up about what’s true for all of us—which is our need to be liked and what lengths we will actually go to have that happen. When it’s done in the name of love, this process can be very enlightening, indeed!
Note that not all of our ACTS are negative. It is our MOTIVATION that is important. If we are a “nice guy” because of the joy of being a giving person, that’s great; but if we are “nice guy “ only because we’re desperate to belong, we are unauthentic and immediately prevent true connection from happening. After all, what happens when two actors try to connect? Inevitably, you get a “performance” that looks like connection and sounds like connection, but isn’t the real thing.
Once we discover our various ACTS for gaining approval, WE MUST REMEMBER NOT TO PUT OURSELVES DOWN. We discover our ACT only to empower ourselves. First we notice: “Ah, yes. There’s Susan doing her pleasing-everyone number again. Obviously, she isn’t feeling good about herself right now.” No Self-criticism here—only noticing. With this observation, we know it’s time to pick up our bag of Self-esteem tools and put them into practice. Watching ourselves in this way automatically sets the stage for our ultimately letting go of our fake Selves.
Again, understand that the processes of discovering and dropping our ACTS don’t occur overnight. As with all re-programming activities, the change takes place over a lifetime, as we slowly live more and more into our authenticity. It takes courage to drop our ACT. For example, it takes courage to say NO when our Act is to be a people-pleaser. It takes courage to say PLEASE HELP ME when our Act is to be independent. But with each step we learn to know and like ourselves a little bit more.