I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase; “ just fake it ‘til you make it.” If you just act confident, then eventually you’ll feel confident. If you just pretend like you’re motivated, eventually you’ll become motivated. But does it really work? Can you really fake it ‘til you make it?
The idea of “fake it ‘til you make it” came from the theory of the self-fulfilling prophecy. This theory posits that if you are told something enough times you start to internalize that message, turning it into a belief that eventually comes true.
“I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until finally I became that person. Or he became me.” Cary Grant
From the self-fulfilling prophecy we eventually came to the idea of “act as if”; if you act as if something is already true, it will eventually become true. Acting confident isn’t just in your thoughts; it’s also in how you carry yourself.
Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk on “How Body Language Shapes Who You Are” (I mentioned her talk in my last blog post: The Top 4 Essential TED Talks for Athletes explains how your body language can influence your feelings of confidence and that you aren’t faking it until you make it, you are faking it until you become it.
How you carry yourself affects how you feel and how others perceive you. Imagine a competitor conveying their lack of confidence in their body language. They might be moving sluggish with their head hanging down or they might be stiff and full of anger… what do you think about your competitor in that moment? If you want to be the athlete to beat, carry yourself like you are the athlete to beat. This is different than being cocky. This is allowing your body to send the message to your brain that you can do this. When you hold yourself with confidence, you start to feel more confident.
Start paying attention to how you carry yourself. How’s your body language after a success? After a mistake? Then start to pay attention to the athletes you admire and watch how they carry themselves. During your next competition, think about how you can carry yourself with confidence from the moment you start preparing for your event through the end of your competition.
Some people get stuck on the idea that pretending is lying … if I “pretend” to be confident, I’m just lying to myself. Pretending, or ‘acting as if’ is different than lying. Lying is based in deception. Pretending is trying something out to see how it feels. It is also way to tap into something inside of you that is already there, but feels foreign or uncomfortable because it hasn’t been a part of you that you’ve brought out. You’re trying it on, feeling it out … like an actor getting into character.
Give yourself a time frame – just try it out. And then keep trying it. Until you become it … and it becomes you.