For the last month, I’ve been “faking it,” as I’ve tried to keep up with my various deadlines while sick. Thanks to several fantastic guest posts from Shaila Patel, Christina Delay, and a wonderful series by Naomi Hughes, I’ve managed to not fall insanely behind.
However, this past weekend, within hours of finishing a big deadline project, I came down with a cold on top of the intestinal infection I’ve been fighting for weeks.
Normally for me, a cold is just an inconvenience, some sniffles and congestion. But because I was already seriously ill—barely able to eat anything and frequent fevers over 103 degrees—this cold was like a zombie infection.
No… I take that back. Zombies would have more energy. *sigh*
Anyway, I figured this was a good time to rerun my “faking it” post from several years ago. And please let me know if you have ideas for guest posts to help me out over the next few weeks (my next surgery is currently scheduled for next week as well—Joy!). *smile*
We’ve probably all heard the phrase: Fake it until you make it. The idea is that we’re supposed to act the way we want others to see us, and we’ll be treated the way we want.
The concept can be applied to our personal life as well as our professional life. If we act like an extrovert, smiling and talkative, people will see us as friendlier. If we act like we know what we’re talking about, full of confidence and certainty, others will assume we’re an expert.
The concept applies in subtle ways too. Job seekers often receive the advice: “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” That’s simply another way of acting how we want others to see us.
Can We Fake the Ability to Fake It?
Faking it isn’t always easy though. We can feel like an impostor. We can stress about being found out, accused of not being good enough, not belonging.
This fear holds some writers back from embracing the title of “writer,” much less “author.” They’ll instead throw around words like “aspiring writer.”
But as I’ve blogged about before, many times the effort of faking it pushes us forward. To improve our ability to fake it, we learn new things and grow and change. Over time, we’ll often discover we’re not faking it anymore.
What would be even better, though, was if faking it wasn’t as hard, right? What if we could do something simple to make that effort to fake it easier? What if we could psych ourselves up for faking it in just two minutes?
A Shortcut to Faking It with Style
That’s why I found a TED talk about body language and confidence fascinating. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy explains that just as our thoughts and feeling affect body language, the reverse is also true.
Faking it isn’t just about “fooling” others into seeing us a certain way. Faking it is also about reprogramming our brain so we see ourselves that way too.
When we think of nonverbals, we think of how we judge others. … We tend to forget, though, the other audience that’s influenced by our nonverbals: ourselves. — Amy Cuddy
She says all it takes is holding a confident pose (even when no one else is around to see it) for two minutes. I can hear you all now. *smile*
Uh-huh. Sure, that’s all it takes.
It’s easy to be dismissive of the idea. But she’s a real scientist, not just a pop-psychology book talking about envisioning what we want to make it happen. She did the research to test if that new supposed-confidence is all in our head.
The verdict: Our body language doesn’t just make us feel more confident, but her research confirmed that our body chemistry actually changes based on our body language. Think about that for a minute.
Holding our body in a “power pose” for two minutes changes the amount of hormones in our bloodstream, raising testosterone and lowering cortisol. Testosterone is the hormone of dominance and confidence. Cortisol is the stress hormone. This is real change, not just a difference in perception.
Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes. — Amy Cuddy
So what can we, as writers, do with that real confidence?
- We can prepare for writing conferences and pitch appointments.
- We can hold a power pose while we’re writing about dominant characters. (And similarly, we can hold a weak pose while writing about less powerful characters.)
- We can psych ourselves up before opening beta reader comments, emails from agents or editors, or reading reviews. Even if we don’t like what the contents say, we might take the news less hard if we approach the feedback less stressed.
- We can reduce the cringing when we hit “send.”
- We can face book signings, book tours, and presentations.
- We can prepare for phone or in-person requests for research assistance.
The TED talk is about 20 minutes long, but I encourage you to watch the whole thing. It’s a powerful look at how our actions influence our minds, bodies, behavior—and ultimately, our chances for reaching our goals.
We all feel like impostors sometimes. Like we don’t belong. But if two minutes of posing in the privacy of our room or the bathroom can make the effort of faking it easier, it just might be worth it to stand like Wonder Woman or Superman. *smile*
Do you find it difficult to “fake it”? What do you think of the idea that our body language affects our minds and body chemistry in measurable ways? Have you ever used a technique like this? How did it work for you? Can you think of other ways we can use this boost of confidence?Pin It