Fake It Until You Become It

Young beautiful girl driver with a wheel, concept

How does this work?

The research has demonstrated that adopting physical changes in your body positioning impacts the testosterone and cortisol levels in your brain, and these chemicals can contribute to giving you that edge you need to stand up with confidence. In her presentation, Cuddy included an image of sprinter, Olympic gold medalist and fastest man in the world Usain Bolt exemplifying the victory posture called “pride.”

You can probably imagine the image without even Googling it: arms in the air, chest out, head back, mouth open — the image of victory. It turns out that not only is this physical action a reaction to victory, it can also help facilitate it.

How can you make this knowledge work for you? Should you stand in front of a client, investor or team and raise your arms in the air, stick out your chest and grin from ear to ear?

Well, actually, that might work. But it might be a little awkward to fit into the situation. And how often could you repeat it before it became a little weird?

Yet by engaging in these symbolic gestures on an ongoing basis, you can begin to change your perceptions of yourself and increase the odds of your confidence building.

By repeating these body-positioning actions, even in a private setting, you change the chemicals in your body over time — chemicals that your brain begins to associate with feeling more confident, which contributes to making your confidence stick.

Go ahead and try this:

Adopt a neutral facial expression for 10 to 15 seconds. How do you feel? Do you feel tired or small? Did your shoulders dip; did you heave or sigh?

Now, smile. Hold the smile for 15 seconds. If you don’t feel like smiling, fake it. Use your fingers to prop up the corners of your mouth, or stick a pen between your teeth.

Do you notice a change in how you feel? Did you feel like sitting a little taller? Does your chest fill up a little more? Did you breathe more deeply? Did you begin to feel even just a little different?

Now try this: Stand up and pump your arms in the air like an athlete who just crossed the finish line. Take a breath and, what the heck, think about being successful. How does it feel?

Perhaps it feels silly, but does that matter if it works? You do not always need to stand and pump your fists in the air; just adopting stronger body language, opening your chest, straightening your back and standing or sitting tall can have a desired impact.

To empower yourself and believe in your own ability to succeed, understand that sometimes you need to create the experience that tells your own brain that you are ready, willing and able to succeed. Sometimes, as Cuddy has said, you just have to “fake it until you become it”.

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About the author

Tara Orchard

Tara Orchard is a coach, trainer, consultant and writer who applies her insights into people and Masters training in psychology to facilitate performance improvements, relationships and communication for people and businesses. She has worked with organizations to deliver clarity on culture and brand, develop their people and manage relationships with social network communities.  Over the past 18 years she has consulted with 1000's of people who want to make effective transitions in their lives. Tara has a knack for hearing what people are thinking and helping them see what they need to see. She is the founder of her own career and social network coaching business, works with several other organizations as a coach and consultant and is about to complete her first book on the "psychology of effective social networking". Tara invites you to connect with her on LinkedIn .