The Science Behind “Acting As If”
Not to be confused with being disingenuous or sweeping our feelings under the rug…the popular expression “Fake It Till You Make” can actually be a valuable coping tool when the going gets tough. As hard as this is to believe, there is plenty of science proving we can actually trick ourselves into becoming more successful, increase our happiness, and become more confident. Researchers have found that “acting” a certain way allows our brains to “rehearse” a new way of thinking and can set off a favorable chain of events. So the next time you find yourself second guessing taking on that demanding work assignment, nervous about initiating a social gathering, unenthused about your evening plans, or simply feeling gloomy and uninspired, check out these go to practices to manage the challenge at hand.
Smile– Literally say CHEEESEE, force a smile. Evidence suggests your face, sends signals to your brain, informing it that you are experiencing a particular emotion and leading you to believe it. Smiling can trick the body into helping you elevate your mood because the physical act of smiling actually activates neural messaging in your brain. A simple smile can trigger the release of neural communication boosting neuropeptides as well as mood-boosting neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. It’s hard to argue with the expression…when you smile the whole wold smiles with you- smiling is contagious, starting a friendship, dissolving arguments, and spreading positivity.
2. Strike a powerful pose– When we are feeling powerless, ineffective or unsure of ourselves, we tend to make our bodies as small as possible. We hunch our shoulders, cross our legs, bow our heads and use self-protective gestures. Conversely, when we feel powerful and dominant, our bodies tend to adopt an expansive pose. We spread our arms, sit or stand straight and widen the position of our arms and legs.
Well known Harvard Business School social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, shared her findings how adopting a powerful posture can affect our body chemistry. In her study, she had subjects adopt either a power stance—with their chest and head lifted and arms propped on their hips—or a meeker pose—hunched over with their arms crossed—for two minutes. The people who maintained power poses showed a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol and an increase in testosterone, a hormone related to dominance and confidence. These changes in hormone levels appear to positively influence a person’s behaviors – increasing confidence and performance in situations that are stressful or uncomfortable.
Making power posing an integral part of our preparation for the important events of our life may actually help us achieve more. When we feel confident and powerful, we are more able to express ourselves and influence others. Using power posing may just give us that little extra edge we need.
3. Act as if-Want to be more confident, optimistic, sociable, calm, healthy or fit,…act as if. When we act as if, we put into place those practices that support desirable states of being. It is through this practice, repetition of action steps, that then allows us to become more of what we want to be. So start aligning, spring into action-circulate at work events, dance at a party, feed your body as healthy person feeds herself, dress the part, embody calm and act confidently. Just start doing it! The more we rehearse something the better we will become at it and then the more natural it will feel.
As anyone who knows me well will tell you, I’d never advocate being inauthentic or phony, nor lye to others about our competencies. “Acting As If” only works when we correctly identify something within ourselves that’s holding us back. It is both a mindset and action oriented tool assisting us in creating more of what we want in and for our lives, not meant to be a substitute for obtaining the knowledge and support we need to become a better version of ourselves.
Wishing You Alway The Best Of Success