Melissa The Creative

Embrace creativity. Live purposefully.

Fake It ‘Til You Become It

There’s an old proverb that goes,

As a man thinketh, so is he,

which basically means you are what you think. Packaged a different way,

Change your thoughts, change your life.

This notion is the birthplace of the positive affirmation – telling yourself what you’d like your reality to be as if it were already a reality. To demonstrate, an affirmation of mine would be,

I am an extremely organised person who is always on time.

The reason we create and repeat affirmations to ourselves is to change our negative self-beliefs, and in doing so, change the current circumstances or realities we’re not entirely happy with in an effort to lead happier lives.

Last week I watched a 2012 Ted talk by Amy Cuddy, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, and she spoke about power poses versus powerless poses and how it’s indicative of our behaviour and personality. She posed the following question:

If our minds change our bodies is it also possible that our bodies change our minds? If body language has such an influence on the way other people perceive us, could it in fact change the way we see ourselves?

She proceeded to go into the results of experiments on the effects of deliberate two-minute powerful or powerless poses on (human) subjects’ tolerance for risk, their testosterone levels, and their cortisol levels.

The subjects who exercised the powerful poses – spreading out and occupying a lot of space – had a higher tolerance for risk, a 20 per cent increase in testosterone (the ‘assertive, confident, and comfortable’ hormone) and a 10 per cent decrease in cortisol (the ‘stress’ hormone).

The powerless posers – hunched up and occupying very little space – experienced a significantly lower tolerance for risk, a 25 per cent decrease in testosterone, and a 15 per cent increase in cortisol. They became highly stress reactive and shut down

So faking a powerful pose for two minutes before an evaluative situation, like a job interview for example, actually makes you feel more confident.

I didn’t previously believe in ‘faking it ’til you make it,’ because it felt inauthentic. But after watching Cuddy’s talk I realised that is exactly what I had been doing to become a writer.

After I quit my job last year to pursue a more creative career, I decided to be a writer – I wasn’t already one. I read books on writing, took an online course, and even joined a writer’s circle. I fell into the ‘eternal student’ trap – continuously learning to postpone actually putting my work out in the world.

My husband, eager to see the fruit of my new venture, encouraged me to apply for writing jobs (with no prior experience). I felt like such a fraud saying, ‘I’m a writer,’ on my cover letters or in my emails, but 30 odd cover letters and more than 10 published features later – I’m still taken aback when I am paid for my work. I suddenly realise, though, that I didn’t fake it until I made it, I faked it until I became it.

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