Emotional Wellbeing


Mental Health

Self Improvement

Mandy Kloppers

Act as if for improved confidence

Feeling confident is a state of mind but we can’t always feel invincible. Feeling confident comes and goes. I wish there was a ‘confidence pill’ but until someone invents one we have to figure out other ways to find confidence when we feel shaky and vulnerable underneath.

The good news is that there are some tricks to help you feel confident. One of the best ways is to “act as if”…

Act as if

Think of a person that you admire and respect. It could be a family member or a celebrity, it doesn’t have to someone you know personally. If you aren’t good at visualising, then it’s better to choose someone you know.

When you find yourself in a situation where you need to be confident, use the ‘act as if’ strategy. Imagine the person whom you admire. Think about their body language. How would they be presenting themselves?

Most likely, they would make eye contact, smile, display ‘open’ boy language and have their shoulders back. Engage in confident body language. Just doing this sends the right messages to your brain. Posture alone can make you feel more confident. Strike a confident pose – it’s always a good start.

Next, thik about how they would communicate with others. What would they say, what would their general demeanour be like? Try to emulate this behaviour and communication style. The more you act confidently, the more you reinforce those neural pathways in your brain and the more natural the behaviour becomes. This has been proved by tons of research.

Your body and mind are intertwined. The researcher Fritz Strack examined the relationship between our facial expressions and our emotions. He separated participants of his study into two groups. The first group was told to hold a pen between their teeth, the second group put a pen between their lips. Participants of the first group all looked like they were smiling – with a pen stuck between their teeth. However, the second group presented quite grim faces having a pen pressed between their lips.

In this rather weird position, he gave all participants a comic to read and asked them how funny they thought it was. Astonishingly, the participants with a pen between their teeth found the comic much funnier than the ones with a pen stuck between their lips. The results indicate that putting a – fake – smile on your face is often enough to cheer you up and turn a bad day into a pretty good one.

The fact that facial expressions can influence our mood is also interesting to researchers for another reason: a research team at the Hannover Medical School in Germany pursued this further and examined whether facial expressions could also affect the mood of people suffering from depression. They believed it was possible to improve the condition of patients with depression if their faces displayed less frown lines. So they used Botox injections to smoothen those frown lines. Botox is a nerve toxin, which paralyzes the muscles it is injected into. And indeed, 60% of the treated patients experienced a significant improvement in their mood. As you can see, there is a lot more to this mind-body link. The more we act a certain the way the more our brains respond and do it more automatically.

Reframe threat as opportunity  and anxiety can be reframed as excitement. Thoughts are powerful…

Act as if to feel more confident. Be aware of your body language, shoulders back, display open body language and you’ll soon be looking and feeling confident without having to work so hard at it.

Mandy X


Photo by abbs johnson on Unsplash
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