Fake it Until You Become It

February 13, 2019

In her book, Presence, Amy Cuddy describes a person with presence as someone who shows up confident, comfortable, enthusiastic and captivating. This person is able to stand amongst others and express his/her true thoughts, feelings, values, potential...their most sincere self...not only with what they say, but also how they present themselves with their body language. Amy has found that this kind of presence stems from believing and trusting in our story of who we are and what gives our life meaning. The opposite is a person who tries to manage his/her impression on others, molding and self-monitoring themselves to something they think you'll like/respect/appreciate.

 

How do we spend more time being present and less time as a people pleaser? Amy says we must cultivate our personal power using what she defines as self-nudges, or micro-actions we can use in challenging situations to help us feel a bit more courageous so we can act a bit more boldly. Besides the usual suggestions like slowing down, taking pauses, breathing, and visualization and other mental reframing techniques (i.e., interpret the negative emotion of anxiety as the positive emotion of excitement), Amy encourages us to practice open and expansive body postures (think Superwoman or an Olympic gold medalist standing on the champion's platform). Her research has showed that when we take on such postures, we feel more powerful, confident, calm and synchronized; and in this way, our body shapes our mind, and our mind then shapes our behavior. "We fake it until we become it." People will feel our powerful presence (as reflected by our posture, movement and speech) and respond to us as such.

 

This is not a technique for fooling other people to get what we want. Amy emphasizes that it's about nudging ourselves to step outside of our own fear and anxiety, so we can be a bit more present and feel a bit more powerful, so that incrementally over time we end up where we want to be as the best version of ourselves. 

 

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