How you think about things matters.
Sometimes our thoughts go crazy, crazy places - places we would rather not have them go.
This is normal. We are not our thoughts, but we are effected by what we believe.
There have been a lot of studies done about what happens when you arbitrarily assign value. There was the eye color study done by Jane Elliot, she conceived of it the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. She noticed that her kids were not internalizing what racism meant so she created an exercise where they could experience what it firsthand. She told the class that if you have blue eyes you are better, smarter, more capable than the brown-eyed kids. She then had the blue-eyed children put collars around the brown-eyed children's necks for easy identification. The impact was huge on how they treated each other and how they felt about themselves. Her endowing them with traits caused them to think about themselves and others differently in a very real way. Learn more here.
Another study involved rats where the research psychologist running the test, Bob Rosenthal, brought in a bunch of standard grade lab rats and divided them into two groups. He labeled one group as smart special rats and the other group as not so smart dumb rats. The experimenters didn't know that he had arbitrarily labeled the different cages. He then had them work the rats through a maze. The "smart" rats did better.
A lot better.
Almost two times as well as the "dumb" rats. Perception has impact. Learn more here.
Context also matters. Claude Steele, a professor of psychology at Stanford, gave a standardized test to a group of students. He gathered up the students and told them the purpose of the test was to measure intelligence. He found that the white students did better than the black. Next up, he gave a separate group of students the same test, but framed it differently, stressing that it had nothing to do with intelligence, but was merely a preparatory drill. The results? There was virtually no difference between the white and black students. This finding is part of what is called the stereotype threat which can effect anyone who thinks they will be judged for factors like age, weight, gender, ethnicity. Learn more here.
The point is the way you perceive something MATTERS.
The way you perceive yourself and the way you perceive others.
You can only control what you can control so the question becomes - how do you apply it to life?
My suggestion is to experiment.
You are at a networking event and feel really, really uncomfortable. Take a moment. Allow yourself to acknowledge the feeling and let it be okay. And then, what would it feel like to be more confident? What would it look like? What if you knew the people you interacted with enjoyed what you had to say? How would that effect the evening?
Maybe your posture changes.
Maybe your breathing eases.
Maybe you have more fun.
And maybe, people see you differently.
The video below, if you haven't seen it... you really should. Power pose y'all. Power pose.