I volunteer as a clinician at the First Responders' Support Network (FRSN.ORG). The FRSN sponsors two retreats: one for first responders with symptoms of post-traumatic stress injuries (we don't call it a disorder because that sounds permanent) and a second for significant others and spouses (SOS). The phrase "fake it 'til you make it" comes up a lot and is founded in evidence-based scientific studies in behavior modification. In layperson's terms, we are asking our clients to re-examine the battered, isolated, self-critical, post-traumatic selves they brought to the retreat. And then, over the course of the week, we get them to behave like the selves they want to be. Selves that are generally more wholesome, loving, confident and calm. We tell them "practice makes perfect" and not to wait until they feel better to change their behavior, because that could take a long time.
Imitation is one way to fake it until you make it. Imitation is how humans learn. It's the rare person who can invent something so novel that it has no predecessors. Children imitate parents. Students imitate teachers. Creative people imitate artists they admire until they have a strong enough grasp of the craft to make it their own. When I wrote my first book, I Love a Cop: What Police Families Need to Know, I turned to Harriet Goldhor Lerner's self-help books as a model. I loved the tone of her books, how she seemed to be writing for an audience of one. Too many self-help books are simplistic and too many self-help writers sound like pompous assess. I didn't want to be either. I lacked the confidence and the experience she had. And I didn't have the clout, the scientific rigor or the beard and pipe I associated with psychologists (mostly male) who wrote books. But I did have the passion and I was confident there was a need for a book like mine. So I faked it. Plunged in and pretended I knew what I was doing. Or was at least smart enough to know what I didn't know and where (and to whom) to turn to get it.
Twenty years, one revision and two translations later it is still a best seller and I'm working on a second edition. This time I'm not faking it.