Fake it until you become it

Watch Amy Cuddy's presentation on the power of body language to boost your dating success. Learn how to adopt a high power stance to project an image of confidence.

It’s no secret that confidence is sexy. Confident people radiate strength and power. They like themselves, and they are assured that you will like them too. They take risks, and they believe in their ability to win. You can spot a confident person from across the room because of their expansive posture and open stance.

The question is, how can you exude confidence when you feel insecure and unattractive? How can you stand tall, ask for dates, and flirt like a pro when you don’t believe that you have a chance? It turns out that body language has a lot to do with how others see us, and it also affects our self-perceptions. Standing in a posture of confidence can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even influence our chances for success.

This TED Talk by social psychologist Amy Cuddy entitled, “Your body language shapes who you are”, explains how to radiate confidence even when you don’t feel confident. As a child, Amy Cuddy was identified as gifted and placed in special classes for bright and talented students. In college, when she suffered severe brain damage from a car accident, she lost her identity as a person with a high IQ. Lying in the head injury unit of a hospital, she was told by her doctors that she had been withdrawn from her classes and that she needed to figure out a new life plan. She was devastated, but she didn’t give up. She worked, and she worked, and she got lucky, and as she challenged herself her brain began to heal. It took her four years longer than her peers to finish college, but she did it.

Next, she managed to gain acceptance at Princeton for graduate school. On her first week, she was asked to give a small twenty minute talk to a roomful of her peers. The lecture seemed so intimidating that she called her adviser and told her that she was dropping out. She said that there had been a mistake and that she didn’t belong. Her adviser told her that she was not allowed to quit and that she was going to give that speech even if she threw up, even if she felt so dizzy and uncomfortable that she had an out of body experience. She told Amy that she was going to keep giving speeches at venues all around the country until she became masterful.

Years later, after Amy had given hundreds of lectures, she was teaching a course at Harvard. One of the female students in her class came to talk to her privately. The girl said, “There’s been a mistake. I don’t belong here.” Now it was Amy’s turn. She realized that she no longer felt that way. That after all these years and all these lectures, she finally felt that she belonged. She told her student that she did belong. That she could fake it until she made it. She told her to come to class the next day and give the very best comment that she could imagine. The girl gave the best comment in class, and she kept faking it for months until she herself changed and became self-confident.

The message of this inspiring video is to not only fake it ’til you make it, but to fake it ’til you become it. When you feel terrified and anxious, you prevent yourself from taking risks. You neglect to ask for a date with the guy or girl you really like because you think they are out of your league, or you stop yourself from taking your relationship to the next level because you don’t believe that you deserve love. Faking it ’til you make it means pretending, through verbal and non-verbal behaviors, that you are worthy of the date, and that you do belong in the loving relationship. After you “fake” confidence for long enough, you won’t have to fake it anymore. One day you will look at yourself – and everything that you have accomplished – and realize that you have become the person you wanted to be.