Life Coaching Technique “Acting As If” – An Easy Way To Change The Way You Feel

Customers, prospects and potential business partners can smell your fear a mile away.

You may think you’re putting on a good front to other people when you make a presentation or try to strike up a conversation, but if you don’t genuinely feel confident about yourself people will see that in you and will share your lack of confidence. That can be extremely detrimental to your success, because people that don’t have confidence in you won’t do business with you.

Obviously, everyone encounters circumstances from time to time in which they doubt themselves. It’s natural, especially when we encounter new circumstances or unfamiliar projects.

Feelings of doubt and fear are signals to us that we’re about to take on something new and that we better check our inventory of abilities, skills and knowledge to make sure we can succeed.

We should pay attention to those feelings when they indicate we are missing some important skill or knowledge needed to avoid disaster, such as trying to rewire the electricity in your house when you don’t know how to avoid electrocution.

But sometimes we have those feelings when we just aren’t sure whether our inventory is adequate. Those are the experiences in which we grow and acquire new skills and knowledge. Such experiences are essential for success, like when we take on a project that’s a little bigger than we’ve done before or have need of a skill that we’ve not practiced much.

How to Develop Self-Confidence When You Don’t Feel Confident

In those circumstances, we need a way to overcome our doubt and fear and become confident. Self-confidence arises from two important factors: the belief that the dream, goal or project is possible and the belief that you have what it takes to achieve it.

The first part of that equation is relatively simple to deal with. If some person or creature somewhere on the face of the Earth at some point in time has done it before or done something like it before, and it does not defy the laws of science, you can be reasonably sure the dream, goal or project can be achieved.

The second part of the equation is a little trickier, because sometimes, even if you have all the basic skills, abilities and knowledge, you either haven’t tested those abilities or for some other reason you just don’t have a lot of confidence in yourself.

First off, you have to remember that all success involves calculated risks—nothing is certain. But if you don’t take some risks, you’ll never move toward your goal. Even if you have a reasonable chance of success, there’s always the possibility that something will go wrong.

Be prepared for that and be OK with it. Don’t take foolish risks, but don’t shy away from a good opportunity just because there’s some risk involved.

The “Acting As If” Technique

The next step in building your confidence is using the “act as if” technique. The act-as-if technique takes advantage of your natural mental and emotional responses to posture and behavior to impose a feeling of confidence.

When you lack confidence in something, what’s going on is that your mind perceives the circumstances as being beyond your abilities or grasp. In response to that perception, your emotions kick in with fear and doubt. Your body responds to those emotions by getting tense and/or jittery and your mind responds by dredging up memories and thoughts that affirm your fears and doubts.

Your emotions cause you to further perceive that the circumstances are bigger than you can handle and the cycle starts again. This is a natural response cycle that connects our perceptions to our thoughts and actions.

The act-as-if technique reverses that reaction cycle by changing what we think about and how we act. Start with your posture; when you lack confidence you tend to slouch or shrink.

Instead, sit up or stand up straight and throw your shoulders back, lift your chin and look straight ahead.

Next, address your breathing. Nervousness prompts people to breathe in shallow, hyper-ventilating type of breaths. Breathe deeply and calmly through your nose and with each exhale relax the muscles in your neck and shoulders.

As you change your breathing and posture, you should immediately start to feel a calmness taking over in place of your nervousness. Continue the process by choosing clothes that reflect what you hope to achieve. Walk and talk as though you’ve already accomplished the dream or goal that you are pursuing.

Look at other people who have already achieved your goal and notice how they walk, talk and behave. Imitate them and learn to speak and act as they do. That doesn’t mean you need to mimic their exact personality, just the things that demonstrate their confidence.

Finally, learn to talk and think differently to yourself. Instead of recalling memories that reinforce your fears and doubts, recall the times when you easily overcame obstacles or succeeded at something in the past.

Tell yourself, “This may be a new circumstance or challenge, but it’s really not much different than ___________” and mention a time that you succeeded or did something similar. Tell yourself that you’ve got the skills and the knowledge and anything you don’t have you can gain along the way. Tell yourself that mistakes are part of the learning curve, and you’ve got to learn some time so it might as well be now.

When you learn to act as if you’ve already achieved your dream or goal, your emotions will begin to calm, you’ll relax and you’ll perceive that what lies ahead of you is a challenge you can handle.

Once you perceive your circumstances as manageable, your mind will continue to have reinforcing thoughts and your emotions will change to feeling bold and confident. With feelings of boldness and confidence, you’ll soon be taking the actions necessary to reach your goal and you soon you won’t have to “act” any more.

The reason the act-as-if technique works, is not because you are pretending to be confident—people see right through that. It is because it actually instills confidence by putting the challenge or circumstances in a better perspective. It programs the mind and nervous system to respond differently to the challenge, much like practicing a sport makes you more competent to compete in it.

The act-as-if is not the only way to instill confidence, nor is it always the answer. But it is very effective and very much worth your time to try it and practice it.

Acting As If Also Works for Other Emotions

Acting as if also works for any other emotions or states that you want to change, feel, or experience.

If you want to feel happy, then act happy, think happy thoughts, remember happy times in your life, and behave in ways that happy people behave.

Smile, hold your head up high, have fun, enjoy yourself, laugh, play. If you do this, eventually you’ll start feeling happy too. Not because you are faking it, but because you’ve become happier.

You can do the same with any other feeling or state you want to experience: gratitude, appreciation, energy, kindness, love, fun, courage.