Do you remember the television programme ‘Stars In Their Eyes’ where contestants impersonated showbiz stars, saying “Tonight I’m going to be…'”? They then disappeared through the doors, and reappeared in a puff of smoke as the famous singer they were going to impersonate.
Well, yesterday, I decided to do an experiment on myself and become someone else for the day…
I had a lot to get done and felt that familiar feeling that I would flit around like a butterfly and not really get anything completed if I was myself. So, I decided that “Today, everybody, I’m going to be Pip Balmanno!”
“Who?” I hear you cry. Well no-one you probably know, as that’s an old family name I decided to use, but in my mind she’s a very business-like lady who gets things done, whilst Pippa Shay is soft and floaty, great with clients but not so good at using her free time.
I nearly went as far as disappearing through some doors and reappearing, dressed in a business suit, in a cloud of smoke but just the change of name was enough.
It reminded me too of other changes of identity, where prisoners in the United States were given plastic surgery as part of their rehabilitation.
In 1974, out of the 1,094 inmates who had received plastic surgery during the previous six years, fewer than 15 percent of them had returned to prison, whereas 33 percent of all other prisoners released during the same period were back in penitentiaries. The same trend was true in a study of 400 inmates in New York City that was done in the late 1960s and early ’70s.
So, how much of how we think, feel and behave is tied up with how others see us but also how we perceive ourselves? I think it’s a great deal. I know that I feel and act differently if I’m in scruffy clothes than when I’m dressed up for the night. I know if I have my hair tied up there’s a slight difference with when it’s flowing freely.
Many times I’ve seen normal people, dressed up for a fancy dress party, becoming completely different characters.
And how much have we become what our name sounds like? Would I be a different person if I was called Philippa rather than Pippa? I wouldn’t be surprised if I was.
I’ve seen clients at my clinics in Oxfordshire, who have turned up one week in their work clothes and another time in casual clothes, or ones who’ve just come from the hairdressers. And there is a difference. They look different so they feel and act differently.
So where does that leave us on an everyday basis? Should we be having plastic surgery or changing our names? Well, not unless we want to. But there are things that we can do. If it makes you feel better having polished shoes then do it. Would you tidy the house faster if you acted the part of an efficient cleaner? How much more confidence would you have public speaking if you took on the personality of a self-assured business person?
Or how about thinking of yourself by a different name for the day and see what happens? No-one else even needs to know.
Thinking about yesterday being Pip Balmanno, remarkably, I was far more business-like, efficient and I got a lot more done.