“Fake it until you make it” – the idea that if you act more confident than you feel, it will become a self-fulfilling prophesy – is widely proposed as a way to boost self-esteem.
I have tried this technique in new situations with unfamiliar people. I try and become a cool, cynical, full-of-quips persona – an extra lively can-do exaggerated caricature of myself. But this behaviour can be problematic as when you eventually confide in new friends about social anxiety, they won’t believe you.
However, that faking confidence is a necessary skill, particularly when you’re young and living in a city on your own. You have to be strong or you’ll sink. I’m not someone who flourishes when I’m out of my comfort zone, so faking it has helped me feel more confident and capable, even when inside I feel scared.
Fake it until you make it means you consider what qualities you would like to embody as a confident version of you – your best self – and then start acting in ways that echo this. For example, you might think your best self would smile at everyone you meet, in which case this is what you need to practice until it becomes second nature.
So here are six areas where you can use this method to boost your confidence.
1. Adjust your body language
Tweaking your posture just a little bit so that you are making yourself bigger rather than smaller can significantly change how your body communicates to other people, and oddly to ourselves.
2. Consider your tone of voice
Speaking quietly, not saying much or hesitating while you speak all betray a lack of confidence. This often means slowing down and breathing between sentences. The more you can relax and be yourself with your voice, the better you will come across. Confidence is created by a relaxed, open body posture, low, easy breathing and a warm, resonant vocal tone. These aren’t necessarily natural states for some of us, but they can be consciously learned, practiced and applied in situations that count.
3. Make eye contact
By simply making eye contact it can be a positive and self-assuring experience.
4. Change the way you think
If you have low confidence you are likely believing a very negative, critical voice in your mind, the key to boosting your self-esteem is to start questioning this voice and replacing what it says with positive, wise, loving self-talk.
5. Dress in a way that makes you feel good
We feel good about ourselves if we make an effort with the way we dress. When I dress lazily or in something that I think doesn’t flatter me, I spend time thinking about this and it distracts me.
6. And the rest…
If you have something to show off that makes you seem extra well put together – such as nails or make-up – then do it. It all adds to discovering how to apply a new state of mind that teaches your brain to make yourself feel more comfortable in new situations with unfamiliar people.