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Fake it Till You Make It: Does This Really Work?

Woman in a nice car

Last week, I was chilling on the couch, catching the Steve Harvey show. They were talking about celebrities living two lives – the public one and their behind-the-scenes struggles.

Man, that episode of the show was fire. It got me thinking about that old saying, “Fake it till you make it.

You’ve probably heard it too – the idea that if you want to be something, just act like you already are. For example, if you’re after confidence, start talking louder, standing taller, and grinning more until you feel the part. Want success? Just dress sharp, hustle harder, and network like crazy until success lands on your doorstep.

That`s the whole idea behind the ‘fake it till you make it’ mantra. But is this thing legit, or is it just a slick phrase? Can acting the part change your game, and what’s the catch?

In this post, we’re digging into the nitty-gritty. We’ll suss out the science behind it – how pretending to be someone else can mess with your brain and maybe even upgrade your life. Let`s figure out together if this saying is a game-changer or just another hype.

The Science Behind ‘Fake it Till You Make It’

According to a psychological theory called self-perception theory, we often infer our attitudes and emotions from our behaviors and expressions, rather than the other way around. In simpler words, we don’t always act because we feel a certain way, but we sometimes feel a certain way because we act.

For example, if you smile, you may feel happier, not because you are happy, but because you are smiling. If you nod, you may agree more, not because you agree, but because you are nodding. If you act confident, you may feel more confident, not because you are confident, but because you are acting confident. Get it?

This is supported by several studies that show how our behaviors and expressions can affect our feelings and thoughts. For instance, one study found that people who held a pen in their mouth in a way that forced them to smile reported feeling more amused while watching a funny video, than those who held the pen in a way that forced them to frown.

our behaviors and expressions can affect our feelings and thoughts

Another study found that people who adopted a high-power pose, such as standing with their hands on their hips and their feet apart, reported feeling more confident, dominant, and risk-taking, than those who adopted a low-power pose, such as sitting with their arms crossed and their legs together.

These studies suggest that fake it till you make it can influence our self-perception, by creating a positive feedback loop between our actions and feelings.

By acting as if we already have or are what we want to be, we can trick our brain into believing that we actually have or are what we want to be, and thus feel more positive and motivated to pursue our goals.

But faking it till you make it does not only affect our self-perception, it also affects our brain chemistry, neural pathways, and neuroplasticity, which are the processes that regulate our mood, cognition, and behavior.

By acting as if we already have or are what we want to be, we can stimulate the production of hormones and neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins, that can boost our happiness, pleasure, social bonding, and pain relief. We can also strengthen the connections between the neurons in our brain, which can enhance our learning, memory, creativity, and resilience. Additionally, we can also change the structure and function of our brain, which can improve our mental health and well-being.

What are the Benefits of Fake it Till You Make it

The perks of embracing the “fake it till you make it” mindset are pretty sweet. Check these out:

  1. Mood Boost: Acting the part can turn your mood around. You’ll find yourself feeling happier, more optimistic, and generally more content with life.
  2. Motivation Injection: Need a motivation kick? Faking it can do the trick. Suddenly, you’ll feel inspired, driven, and dead-set on crushing those goals.
  3. Performance Upgrade: Pretending you’ve already made it can crank up your productivity. You become a powerhouse, getting things done faster, more efficiently, and with a ninja-like focus.
  4. Creativity Surge: Fake it till you make it isn’t just for serious stuff. It can ignite your creative side, making you think up wild, out-of-the-box ideas and solutions.
  5. Resilience Reinforcement: Life throws curveballs, but with this mindset, you’ll be ready to dodge them. You become more adaptable, flexible, and resourceful, tackling challenges like a boss.
  6. Happiness High: Embracing the fake-it philosophy spills over into your relationships and experiences. Suddenly, you’re more grateful, joyful, and downright fulfilled. It’s like happiness on steroids.

It can also help us achieve our goals and dreams, by making us more confident, competent, and successful in our endeavors.

Examples of People Who Successfully Used It

Many successful people have used it to overcome their fears, doubts, and insecurities, and to reach their full potential. For example, Oprah Winfrey, one of the most influential and wealthy media personalities in the world, used fake it till you make it to overcome her childhood trauma, poverty, and discrimination, and to become a powerful and inspiring leader, philanthropist, and role model.

2. Steve Jobs

One of the most visionary and innovative entrepreneurs in history, Steve used it to overcome his lack of formal education, experience, and resources, and to create revolutionary products and services, such as the iPhone, the iPad, and iTunes.

3. Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest and most celebrated boxers of all time, used it to overcome his physical and mental challenges, and to become a world champion, a civil rights activist, and a cultural icon.

Amy Cuddy

One of the most popular and influential social psychologists and TED speakers, Ammy used it to overcome her brain injury, impostor syndrome, and social anxiety, and to become a renowned researcher, author, and educator.

These are just some of the examples of how fake it till you make it can help us achieve amazing things in life.

How to Effectively Practice A Fake Life

Its interesting to note that several high profile celebrities have successfully used this ‘fake life’ approach to turn their fortunes around. But how can YOU also turn this “fake it till you make it” approach into a game-changer for your own life? Here’s the lowdown with some practical tips:

  1. Positive Affirmations:
  • Speak your dreams into existence. Craft positive affirmations like “I am confident,” “I am successful,” or “I am happy.”
  • Make it a ritual – say these affirmations in the morning and before bedtime.
  • Write them down, whether on paper or a digital device. It’s like programming your brain for success.

2. Visualization Techniques:

  • Imagine yourself in the shoes of your future, awesome self – giving a killer speech, bagging that trophy, or globe-trotting.
  • Engage all your senses for a full-blown mental movie. Feel the excitement, pride, or joy as if it’s happening now.
  • This visualization game helps create a mental blueprint of your dream scenario, pulling it closer to reality.

3. Mastering Body Language:

  • Non-verbal cues matter. Adjust your posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact to match your desired vibe.
  • Stand tall, smile, nod, make eye contact – the whole confident shebang.
  • It’s not just about how you’re perceived by others; it also affects how you perceive yourself.

4. Leveraging Social Proof:

  • People like to follow the crowd, especially when uncertain. Use testimonials, reviews, endorsements, or recommendations that align with your goals.
  • Showcasing others who have been there, done that, or benefited from your offerings builds trust and credibility.
  • Social proof isn’t just for Instagram influencers; it’s a powerful tool to persuade others to jump on your bandwagon.

You can use any one of the above mentioned tactics or a combination – it doesnt really matter. Whether you’re talking to yourself in the mirror, daydreaming about your success, striking power poses, or letting social proof do the talking – whatever you choose. What matters is sticking to a plan and following it consistently. Soon, you`ll be able to successfuly adopt the “fake it till you make it” mantra into a bona fide strategy for crushing your goals.

What Are the Limitations and Risks of Faking It?

Fake it Till You Make It - Sad girl sitting on a bench

While “fake it till you make it” can be a useful tool, it’s no magic bullet. Let’s check out some cautions:

  1. Unrealistic Expectations:
  • Faking it can turn sour if you’re pretending to master something beyond your reach.
  • Faking skills, qualifications, or credentials you don’t have might lead to disappointment, frustration, and even damage your reputation or career.

2. Dishonesty Hazards:

  • If your fakery ventures into the realm of emotions, personality traits, or preferences that you don’t genuinely possess, watch out.
  • This kind of deception can sow the seeds of manipulation, betrayal, and harm your relationships, integrity, and authenticity.

3. Ethical Quandaries:

  • Faking something that isn’t right or fair crosses into the ethical danger zone.
  • If you’re pretending to deliver results, benefits, or promises that are beyond your capability, you’re treading on thin ice.
  • This could lead to fraud, exploitation, and may violate your values, morals, or principles.

4. Harmful Pretenses:

  • There’s a risk in faking aspects of your well-being, like happiness or satisfaction, when you’re not feeling it.
  • This pretense might lead to denial, suppression, or avoidance, and it’s not a healthy long-term strategy.


My viewpoint is that living a fake life can be a nifty trick, and it’s crucial to be mindful of its limits. Overreaching into unrealistic, dishonest, unethical, or harmful territories can lead to a host of problems. It’s like walking a tightrope – balance is key.

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