While we’re all green at some point in our careers or life, there’s something to be said for faking it till you make it. Imitating knowledge, experience, confidence, and savvy can actually change your real-life behavior in a positive way. Pretend you know more than you do, and eventually you will.
The idea has even been studied by scientists, who collectively say that pretending you know what’s up (to a degree, don't be a psycho), like dressing the part of the job you want, or acting confident and enthusiastic about something you feel bland about, can take you a long way. Psychology Today says the term “fake it till you make it” was coined by sociologist Robert K. Murton, to describe the following concept: “That a prediction about the outcome of a situation can invoke a new behavior that leads to the prediction coming true.”
If I thought I was a model, and dressed like a model and acted like a model, people would laugh … but for real, they would, scientifically, see you as prettier and more confident than you actually are. This applies to all areas of life.
Faking confidence until you actually have it from experience is the building block of all career advice from CEO’s to sports stars. “The more you believe that you are capable, the more you will be,” reports Psychology Today. It's just tricking your own brain.
“The placebo effect tells us that expectations alone can be strong enough to overcome diseases and afflictions, and the self-fulfilling prophecy illustrates how your predictions about a situation influence the outcome, so why shouldn't you be able to alter your expectations about your own abilities and experience a renewal of confidence? Get into the routine of telling yourself that you can be successful in all aspects of your life, and you may find that you can not only handle many more challenges but that you have been able to all along.”
There is also a thing called status-enhancement theory, where regular people gain influence and power by simply acting “dominant and confident.” If you act a certain way and stick to it, (commit to the part, people) others quickly fall under the impression that’s what you’re really like, even if you’re shaking in your boots on the inside. Scientists say that acting a certain way for a prolonged period of time even fools your own brain (through rehearsal) into a fresh way of thinking — kind of like what you’re pretending to be is actually who you really are.
We’re not saying act like a con man, and lie to everyone around you. We’re saying if you lack confidence in a certain area, say, public speaking, or flirting with whoever you desire, pretending can lead to actual success in that area.
Here are five tried and true reasons why FITYMI actually works:
Show your teeth.
Forcing yourself to smile when you are miserable, actually lifts your mood. According to Mental Floss, even fake smiling helps you to feel happier and lowers your heart rate. Go ahead, try it. Next time you cry, fake smile up at the ceiling at the same time. You will look nuts, but your mood will lift.
Take up space.
You are a human on this Earth. Don't walk like you're constantly in somebody’s way. Hold your shoulders back and remember good posture. Walk into a room like you are taking up the space you deserve. (We’re not talking about elbowing people out of the way, just simply owning who you are and the space you take up.) In a popular 2012 TED talk, Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School social psychologist, explained that people who maintain power poses show an increase in testosterone, a hormone related to dominance and confidence. “Our nonverbals govern how we think and feel about ourselves," she reported. "Our bodies change our minds."
Get out of the sweatpants.
Literally, dress for the job you want. But also, dress smart when you are out around town or with your friends. Dressing like a slob, means, well, you don’t care what you look like and you may just be a slob. Again, science tells us that people determine who we are within seconds of seeing us. A perfect example is glasses — don’t you think that person is smarter? They may just have bad eyesight.
I love you, or I will, anyway.
Not sure how much this one would really work on some people, but experts do say that if you are feeling just...meh...about someone, give it time. Your feelings may start to burn hotter if you just act “as if” you are already falling in love. As in, if you pretend to feel love towards a person, you’ll eventually really fall in love with that person. Experts say gazing at, touching, and practicing loving feelings towards someone can make you come around. This explains tech bros and their model girlfriends.
Go to the gym.
Maybe if you’re on a new fitness program — or maybe your whole life — you’ve been telling yourself, “I have to get to the gym” but you never actually get there. Physical trainers and psychologists say the simple task of even just changing into workout clothes is a huge first step. Maybe you’ll just walk around in your yoga pants like half the women in New York City, but subconsciously, you are getting on track. First you put the clothes on, then you actually step foot in the gym, next thing you know you’re pumping iron like Ah-Nold. No, really, you look amazing.