I once had a sponsee, years ago, that hated this expression.
"Fake it till you make it." He would rant and carry on and pound the table (really) when it came to the idea that he should model his behavior on an ideal rather than just be "rigorously honest" in his behavior at all times when it came to how he felt. I learned so much from sponsoring him.
Here are 6 things that I learned, among many valuable lessons from that time:
1. Don't wear a white shirt to coffee with a sponsee that pounds the table. Spills are almost a foregone conclusion in such situations.
2. When people start using one AA suggestion to counter a different AA suggestion, then something is up. I know for myself, when I start "lawyering" the ideas that AA lays out for me to try, that is, when I start arguing and negotiating and "what if-ing" (well, a little of that might be trying to wrap my head around a new idea -- especially the "what if" stuff) I'm likely acting out some level of ego and/or fear. (Oh my God, what else is new. When am I NOT acting out some level of ego and/or fear? <sigh>). Something in my idea of what the AA suggestion is asking me to do frightens me. Under the resistance is usually fear. Under the anger is usually fear. Under your chair right now is usually fear! Look out! The calls are coming from inside the house!
3. Rigorous honesty does not mean that I never smile when I don't feel happy. Only a child gives vent to every passing emotion. (And how childish have I been, along the years? I tremble in my baby booties to consider it. There is, for example, a big difference between childish and childlike.) Rigorous honesty means that I speak no untruth; that I am honest with myself about what's going on with me. (That is so key. In the opening paragraphs of Chapter 5 in the Big Book, pg. 58 for the Highlighter Brigade, it suggests that maybe the folks who aren't able to make AA work for them are those that are "constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves." It also says, to paraphrase loosely, that you can be an aluminum-foil-hat-wearing-paranoid-nutjob, and still get sober if you have the capacity to be honest. Ok, to paraphrase very loosely.) Rigorous honesty means that I am cash register honest. It doesn't mean that I lose all ability to be socially appropriate or diplomatic, as a situation may warrant.
4. "Fake it till you make it" is really just telling you, in shorthand, that you don't have to buy wholesale all of AA's suggestions at once. Just fake it for a while, that's fine. Fake your interest in what people in meetings are saying (it never occurred to me that they might be doing the same!). Fake your willingness to read when you're asked, just pretend you're a willing reader. Fake your desire to go out for fellowship after the meeting. Just fake it ... and eventually you may find that you don't have to fake anymore. It's not about being false or artificial, it's about being into action. And it's about taking a break from the ego-based bullshit debating society. Stop, for a while, evaluating every suggestion that comes your way as to whether it's something that interests you or something you want to do. Most alcoholics don't want to do anything (except get loaded. Highly motivated on that score). Stop being King Baby, and only doing what you want. Fake the 'want' part and that frees you to start doing. And if you start doing (what AA suggests) then you start changing. And for most of us, change is a good thing -- the sooner the better, frankly.
5. This is not just for people that are new to AA. After you've been down the path, it's so easy to become jaded. To "rest on our laurels" as the literature talks about. After time in the Program my rationalizations can become a sly con, using the language of Recovery itself to start to pull me out of the rooms. Fake it till you make it, for some crotchety longtimer like myself, is as valid a suggestion today as it was when I was new. In fact, it is a deadly mistake, I believe, to start to sort AA's suggestions into things "for Newcomers" and "for me." It's not like AA presents you with "The Secret Writings of Lois Wilson" when you turn 10 years sober, and you get all the cheats and loopholes. Sadly, there aren't any. Trust me, I've looked. No, I've searched. None to be found that aren't merely a cleverly disguised Exit sign. So when I feel jaded, when I feel bored, when I feel "been there done that" -- Fake it till you make it. Just do it anyway. And, after some time sober, I am glad to report that the feelings of cynicism, and boredom usually pass very quickly.
6. Sponsees that pound the table should really consider ordering decaf.