Fake it til you make it

After a long hiatus from blogging, I have returned with a somewhat settled mind, a very well-rested body and something I strive for each day– clarity. This post is by no means linguistics related but it is about communication. Mainly, communication with yourself.

A few days before my last exam way back in April, I came across a TED talk presentation given by this beautiful and vibrant woman named Amy Cuddy. Always known for being “the smart one”, she gave an emotional account of an accident that left her at an intellectual disadvantage, robbing her of her identity. She then proceeded to explain how she was able to overcome her obstacles simply by ignoring her limitations and just attempting something she “knew” she wasn’t able to do. Her experience inspired her to conduct research on the truthfulness to the well-known phrase ‘fake it til you make it’ and she found that while we have always known it’s possible to use our minds to control our bodies, it is also the case that we can use our bodies to influence our minds. ‘Powerposing’ is the evidence she uses to back this claim.

Cuddy had two groups of participants undergo a simulated job interview (to mimic a high-stress situation). Half the participants posed for two minutes in a dominant position e.g. a ‘Superman’ stance and the other half posed in a submissive stance e.g. crossing arms or legs. She also took saliva samples before and after the posing sessions. Cuddy found that regardless of what was actually discussed during the interview, the group that ‘powerposed’ not only had more favourable reviews from the interviewers, but they actually had less of the stress hormone present in their saliva compared to before the posing.

This blew me away for a number of reasons. The most important lesson I was reminded of is that sometimes, it really is just mind over matter. If you put your body in a situation or position that is positive and empowering, your mind will respond accordingly. Two minutes alone to position your body for success is all you need to exude confidence. Your body and your mind communicate and can encourage the other to step out of the box to do the unthinkable. Whether you THINK you can or not, if you DO it with your body, your mind will eventually follow suit. And that is just beautiful.

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