Six little words with both rhyme and reason, ‘Fake it ’til you make it’ is a popular phrase that not only looks good on a T-shirt or an overpriced notebook, but is a powerful weapon when it’s etched onto the nay-saying inner critic of our mind.
The phrase began to appear around the 1970’s although there are no recorded traces of its origin. It’s about imitating confidence, competence and an optimistic mindset until they truly come into your possession.
Faking it ’til you make it comes down to mindset and again plays a big part in the Law of Attraction theory; your mind believes that you’re already in possession of what you want and, in doing so, incites behaviours that will help to attain it.
I’ve tried and tested it thousands of times. And it works.
I’ve faked it ’til I’ve made it in most areas of my life but the one I pay closest attention to is my body language, which is well-known to form 80% of our external communication.
And the more I’ve read and learned – about facial expressions from the famous Paul Eckman, body language from Ann Cuddy and anthropology from Helen Fisher – the more I’ve become acutely aware of our body’s very own Morse Code.
There are two ways to look at it; the first is how our body language looks to others and what messages it gives to them.
The second is how our body language affects us on the inside; the impact it has on our own thoughts, feelings and physiology. And this is what fascinates me most.
Whether in interviews, on dates, out with friends or talking to strangers, I always pay attention to what my body is saying.
As talked about quite frequently throughout The Chimp Paradox by Professor Steven Peters, for evolutionary reasons, our bodies often react at nano speed while our brains can take a while to compute.
So more often than not I’ll find my body showing me reactions to a situation before my brain has even had time to understand what’s going on.
And I’ve come to firmly believe that instinct definitely should be trusted and never ignored.
I’ve been on dates where in words and tones I was my usual gregarious self; partly out of politeness but also partly due to being excitable in social surrounds. And then under the table I was twitching my fingers together nervously or had my legs crossed away from his and facing the door begging the universe to grant me an early escape.
I’ve been on others where I’ve curled my body and rolled my shoulders forward. Maybe it was shyness or low confidence, or maybe I was just disappointed – maybe I would have rather been under a blanket on the sofa watching Ted Talks in my PJs.
Anyway, once I’ve let my body do the hard work, my brain kicks in to take control.
Taking control of my body language helps me take control of the situations I find myself in and how I feel about them.
For work, when I have to present on stage to hundreds of people, I sit there waiting for my turn with my heart beating out of my chest. I drink too much coffee, fidget incessantly, my palms sweat and I breathe fast.
But then, I change the game.
I sit up straight and broaden my shoulders, I breathe deep and slow to get oxygen flowing around my body. I hold my hands together in front of me to stop the fidgeting and I force a smile onto my face until it feels real.
With friends and strangers alike, I adapt postures that I know will make me approachable, open and relaxed. I smile, mostly naturally, and I always give them eye contact when they’re talking to show they have my full attention.
And finally on dates I hide my nerves with a straight back, a confident strut and a big smile or I try to hide my awkward desperation to leave with pleasantness.
I deliberately reverse the process of thoughts becoming words and worse becoming actions. I adopt postures and gestures and breathing techniques to send the signals back to my mind and make me feel good.
I fake it ’til I make it.