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When dealing with new situations, confidence is often the last thing we feel. Luckily, leading psychologists are now suggesting that confidence can be faked first and felt second. The phrase “Fake It Til You Make It” may have some validity after all!

Amy J. C. Cuddy, a professor at Harvard Business School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, studies the impact of body language on confidence levels. According to her findings, people who exhibit self-assured body language have lower levels of cortisol, a hormonal indicator of stress level.

“Our nonverbal [signals] govern how we think and feel about ourselves,” she explains, in contrast with the common belief that how we feel dictates our behavior.

Cuddy’s study suggests that it is, quite literally, possible to present confident body language even if it’s not genuine-and as a result, feel more composed and self-assured. Here are some quick confidence boosters:

  1. Think about times in the past when you’ve mastered a new situation.
  2. Remember that you’re likely your own harshest critic.
  3. Picture yourself succeeding. Imagine how great it will feel!
  4. Refrain from negative self-talk and comparing yourself to other people.
  5. Examine your own strengths. How can they be applied here?
  6. Commit to your decisions and stand by them.
  7. Visualize the ways a confident person would behave.
  8. Be patient with yourself.
  9. Remember that confidence is very often learned, not innate.
  10. Smile! You’ll instantly feel better and be more compelling.

With time and success, you won’t have to “fake it,” because you’ll have “made it!”

Quick Confidence Boosters

Remembering when you’ve excelled in the past can lead you toward future success. Make a list of the skills, traits, and accomplishments you bring to the table. For example:

My Skills, Traits, & AccomplishmentsHow to Use
I’m easy to talk to.Relax and focus on listening to other people.
I’m patient.Take time to breathe and calm my nerves.
I’m passionate about my major.When speaking with my advisor, convey my interest and excitement.
I really love music.Use a comment about what song is playing to break the ice.

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