The As-If Principle
Jump to the following topics:
- What is the as-if
four methods of archetypal field-work are based upon the as-if
- What happens when we use
the as-if principle?
- We can use the as-if
principle in many ways.
What is the as-if
principle? This principle says that we can create outer circumstances
by acting "as if" they are already real; for example, we can be happy
by acting as if we are happy. While the principle might seem
to be based on superficial, "magical" reasoning, it does have some
validity when it is used in accordance with the dynamics of spirit,
archetypes, and archetypal fields.
four methods of archetypal field-work are based upon the as-if
principle. These are not four separate phenomena; they are part of
our overall experience within a unified archetypal field which
encompasses our thoughts, images, energy tones, and actions.
- In the as-if principle, we commit particular actions, "as if"
they are our natural, spontaneous behaviors.
- In self-talk, we generate particular thoughts, "as if" they
are our natural, spontaneous thoughts.
- In energy toning, we generate particular energy tones, "as if"
they are our natural, spontaneous emotions and feelings.
- In directed imagination, we generate particular images, "as
if" they are the natural, spontaneous images of our imagination.
What happens when we use
the as-if principle?
- We implant new elements into our archetypal field. When we act
as if, we are not merely "going through the motions" as though we
are a physical machine; instead, we are being creative in all
aspects of the archetypal field -- generating not only the
physical motions, but also the thoughts, images, and energy tones
which correspond to that physical action. These elements are
implanted into the archetypal field, so that the mind can use them
as a reference when the archetypal situation occurs again and the
mind asks itself; "How do I tend to respond in this type of
situation?" For example, if we act as if we are confident in an
archetypal "challenging situation," the thoughts, images, energy
tones, and physical habits of confidence will be available to be
used as the mind's reference points when we are in another
"challenging situation." In that example of "courage," the
elements might include:
We create physical effects. While we are acting-as-if, we are
literally creating the environment of the person whom we are
pretending to be; for example, if we are acting as if we are a
responsible person, we are paying our bills, flossing our teeth,
and fulfilling our other obligations. Thus, in the physical realm
of life, we truly are the responsible person who is depicted in
these observable behaviors. (Of course, this is an incomplete view
of ourselves; beneath the observable behaviors, we might have many
contrary thoughts, emotions, images, and other psychological
forces.) In this sense, the as-if principle transcends
methodology; instead of using techniques and therapies as
intermediary steps to change us into a particular type of person,
we simply proceed to "be" that type of person immediately.
We create psychological effects. We might generally believe
that our psychological processes cause our behaviors; in other
words, we act a particular way because we are thinking particular
thoughts, or because we are experiencing a particular emotion.
However, to some extent, the reverse is also true: if we commit a
particular action, the physiology tends to generate corresponding
thoughts, imagery, and energy tones; this phenomenon occurs
because our psychological phenomena and our outer conditions are
all part of the same archetypal field in which the elements
resonate with one another regardless of whether they are "outer"
or "inner" elements. (In Unlimited Power, Tony Robbins
says, "If you change your physiology -- that is, your posture,
breathing patterns, muscle tension, facial expressions, gestures,
movements, words, vocal tonality -- you instantly change your
internal representations and your state.") For example:
- Thoughts that "I do my best in every situation" and "I am
capable of handling challenges" and "life supplies me with the
resources to prevail because I am doing what life's intuition
is guiding me to do" and "I enjoy the stimulation when I am in
challenging situations" and "I am successful because I allow
life to direct me and empower me."
- An energy tone of courage and expansiveness rather than
- Visual images of ourselves standing brave and dignified.
These images might derive from:
- Our directed imagination. We visualized a fictitious
scenario in which we were brave.
- Actual sensory data which we recorded as memories during
the occasions when we were courageous.
We create physiological effects. As stated previously, the
physiological effects can include blood-flow (when we smile, and
when we have good posture); the effects reciprocate in a cycle
with the psychological effects, such that our smiling makes us
happy, and our happiness makes us smile. Depending upon the type
of actions which we commit when we act as-if, we also affect our
heart rate, breathing rate, metabolism, muscle tension, and other
factors. For example, if we act as if we are relaxed, our muscles
tend to relax.
- We are happy, and so we smile. However, the reverse also
occurs: we smile, and so we are happy -- because smiling
literally increases blood-flow to the brain.
- We are alert, and so we have good posture. But if we are
not alert, and we arrange our body-parts into good
posture, we tend to become more alert -- because of,
again, increased blood-flow to the brain (and perhaps other
factors, such as the reduced amount of stress in the spine).
- In experiments, psychologists discovered that emotions
might indeed be associated with particular body positions. In
these experiments, the psychologists asked people to generate
an emotion such as fear and to move into a position which
depicted fear (perhaps with a protective "cringe"). When the
people were asked to stay in the "fear" position while
generating other moods (e.g., happiness or love), they had
difficulty in creating those moods from that position.
- Physical disciplines are used in some religious paths to
generate particular states of consciousness. Those paths
include hatha yoga, tantra, and others. In many religions, we
kneel to express (and invoke) humility when we pray.
- If we may accept anecdotal evidence from the musical play,
The King and I, we can note that the character "whistles
a happy tune" when she is afraid. And then she discovers that
she is no longer afraid.
We can use the as-if
principle in many ways.
- We can perform the new behaviors. We commit the physical
actions of the character whom we want to be (while we generate the
corresponding thoughts, images, and energy tones).
- We can change our physical appearance. To create an outer
image which more-accurately expresses our true self, we might
alter our clothing (e.g., wearing tailored clothing instead of
tattered blue jeans), our jewelry, our hairstyle (perhaps with a
wig or a beard), etc. Women can experiment with their makeup,
- We can change our lifestyle. We can change our hobbies, our
recreation, our choice of food, our career, our selection of
- We can change our personal physical environment. As-iffing
encompasses more than just our behaviors; we also create the
environment of this new person. This environment can
include our home decor (e.g., furniture, carpeting, wall
decorations, knick-knacks, etc.), our neighborhood (i.e., moving
to a better part of town), etc. We select these objects as though
we are an actor selecting props for a play.
- We can select different environments when we leave our
personal physical environment. When we go out for entertainment
and recreation, we might, for example, buy theatre tickets instead
of football tickets, if the environment of a theatre suits our new
- We can change our speech. We adopt the speech patterns which
express our new self. These patterns include our vocabulary
(particularly our jargon and slang), our accent (such that we
might discard the Texas drawl which is not appropriate for our new
image), our speech rhythms (which can be faster or slower), the
pitch of our voice (which can be higher or lower), our non-verbal
"speech" as expressed in our body language and our hand-gestures,
and other factors in our communication.
- We can acquire the skills which are required in the portrayal
of our new character:
We can do some role-playing. These scenarios can be enacted in
- Personality traits. For example, when we act as if we are a
confident person, we might register for a public-speaking class
to practice our as-if behaviors.
- Social skills. For example, if we want to act as if we are
in a particular group of people, we learn that group's
etiquette, jargon, and social rituals.
- Technical skills. For example, to act as if we are a member
of a group, we might need to learn how to play golf, or
how to ride a horse.
- Specialized knowledge. For example, the group might expect
us to be knowledgeable regarding classical music and fine
We can use rituals. In some rituals, we act as if we have a
quality which we want to have.
We allow the new character to take on a life of its own. At
first, we are self-consciously enacting an alien role -- carefully
choosing our words, images, energy tones, and actions. But as we
become comfortable with this character, it starts to become "real"
to us; it becomes who we really are. Now, instead of moving this
character as if it is a marionette, we allow it to express its own
- Real-life situations. We might spend an afternoon in an
environment where no one knows us, and thus no one can
"correct" us: "Why are behaving that way? That's not you (i.e.,
'that's not the behavior which I traditionally associate with
you')." As we play the role of our new self, our actions are
not an autonomous, solo performance in some type of vacuum;
instead, we need to participate fully in this new character --
responding to people and situations as if we truly are the
person whom we are portraying.
- Cooperative situations with friends. We can tell our
friends that we are changing ourselves, so that they will not
be surprised or confused by our new behavior; on the contrary,
we can ask them to support us by responding to us as if we are
the person who is represented by the role which we are
enacting. For example, if we want to act as if we are a
generally happy person, and we react to situations with our
soul's natural joie de vivre, our friends will say,
"Yes, there are many things to be happy about; I enjoy sharing
my time with someone who likes to see the positive side of
life." (Of course, a true friendship does not demand that we
are always exhibiting any particular trait such as happiness,
but friends do try to elicit pleasant traits in one another.)
- Scripts. We can acquire scripts from a play or movie or
television program, and then play the role of a character whose
qualities we want to practice in ourselves; our friends can
play the other roles. (Scripts are available at libraries and
on the internet.) Instead of using a written script, we can
simply mimic a character whose traits we want to cultivate; we
would follow along with the television program (or the video),
repeating the character's actions, words, imagery, and energy
- Fun activities. We can explore other roles at various
- Costume parties. These events include Halloween parties,
Mardi Gras, etc.
- Computer environments. "In cyberspace, no one knows that
you are a dog," according a well-known cartoon (from The
New Yorker?). People play make-believe in chat groups
(where no one knows whether we truly are the millionaire
whom we claim to be) and in computer games (in which we can
be a military hero or a villainous monster).
- Children's games. In a structured game or in spontaneous
play, kids pretend to be Superman, or a cowboy, or another
type of person.
- Fantasy games. For example, we can be a wizard in
"Dungeons and Dragons."
- Sexual role-playing. To add some spice to our as-iffing,
we can enact our new role in a sexual scenario. For
excitement and novelty, many couples do some imaginative
role-playing; for example, they might arrange to meet at a
bar and pretend not to know one another. In their adopted
persona, they meet, talk, seduce one another, and go home
for a wild fling with this "stranger." For as-iffing, we can
select a trait which we want to develop, and then fit it
into a character who will go to our home as a stranger where
our spouse will greet us as though we are that character; we
can say that we are there to repair an appliance, or take a
survey, or sell a product. We practice our as-iffing while
these two strangers gradually change the scenario from a
business encounter to a sexual one.