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Motivate Yourself 117: Unleash Your Inner Superhero

Have you ever pretended to be someone you’re not?
Maybe it’s not a bad thing. Now I don’t necessarily like the phrase “fake it till you make it” because it conjures up thoughts of imposter syndrome, but one thing that we all need to bear in mind is that we are not born with any behavioural traits, no particular personality, no beliefs about self, nothing.

So how to we develop our personality?
How do we learn what to say and how to say it?

We learn from copying someone else, and anyone with children can see that. But that doesn’t stop when we grow up.
If you spend a great deal of time with someone you pick up on their behaviours and habits, you use the same words, accents and even develop opinions.
As you do this you usually believe it was through choice. That the decision to use those words, or have that opinion was all your own conscious decision, but of course it wasn’t it was all going on in the background of your mind.
It seems that we can change our personalities by accident, so what can we do with our personalities when we actually put some effort in to becoming the best we can be?
Karen Pine
I’m reminded of a field of psychology called Fashion Psychology. in particular some research by Professor Karen Pine, at the University of Hertfordshire. It transpires that we communicate a great deal about ourselves through our own personal style and dress. Karen’s research shows that when women feel stressed they wear less of their wardrobe, neglecting 90 per cent of it, and the main reason women dress up is not to look attractive but to feel confident.
So there’s quite a correlation between emotions and fashion. If we’re feeling gloomy we’re more likely to wear clothes that remind us of feeling gloomy and so continue to make the association stronger.
In a series of Karen’s experiments students were asked to change into certain T-shirts and they were then asked a series of questions about themselves.
Some students had plain T-shirts, some had the Superman logo on them. Turns out that we take on any symbolic meaning to our clothes.
The students with the logo perceived that they could lift heavier things and even rated themselves as more likeable and superior.
And there have been many other experiments that show similar outcomes. Women performed worse in maths tests when wearing swimwear compared to when wearing sweaters.
Putting on a white coat improved people’s mental agility, as their brain was primed to take on the mental capacities they associated with being a doctor.
Turns out that not only is it true to say “we are what we wear”, but also “we become what we wear."
Similarly weight lifters given placebo steroids are able to lift heavier weights because they simply believe that they are stronger today than yesterday. But not only does that belief give them permission to try harder but it actually makes them stronger, the belief that they are growing muscle mass sends signals to the muscles to make them grow, that’s how powerful the mind is!

So just imagine what happens if you are constantly telling yourself that you can’t do something, it has the same effect and prevents you from achieving your goals.
As the old saying goes “Be careful what you look for, as you just might find it.”

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