How to Use the Alter Ego Effect to Highlight Your Authentic Self… Instead of Pretending to Be Something You’re Not

How many times have we been told, “Don’t try to be something you’re not?” So what’s the deal with alter egos? 

Alter egos are a way to bring the parts of you forward that you may need in certain situations. 

It’s you… but amplified.

For example, if you get nervous at events, you can have an alter ego that’s confident and easily starts conversations. 

The idea of an alter ego was popularized by Todd Herman’s book, Alter Ego Effect. But it’s not a new idea. 

You see a similar concept in a great book called, “Learned Optimism,” by positive psychology expert, Martin Seligman. The idea is to give yourself a “reputation up to which you will rise.”

It’s a way to tap into what you most admire in the world and see if it’s a fit for you. That way, you get to craft your reputation and also benefit from it when you most need it.

Many of the tools I’ve used to become more confident, relaxed, and less freaked out, I learned from Seligman. 

Like anything, an alter ego is a tool. It won’t work for everyone or all the time. But it’s there for you if you want to try it.

My Story of Overcoming Social Anxiety… from Networking Wallflower to Confident Latin Dancer

For years I struggled with severe social anxiety. 

You’d never know it today, but I couldn’t attend a work conference without bringing a family member as my safety net.

My family member would walk into the conference room ahead of me and sit down. Then, I’d lock my eyes on him and walk to my seat without looking to the left or right.

Since networking is an important part of my job, I couldn’t skip events. But the toll this took on me was enormous. Eventually, I discovered Martin Seligman and his Learned Optimism techniques. 

From him, I learned a mantra that I repeated every day, like my life depended on it… “It’s not everything. It’s not always. It’s not forever.” 

And when I needed to, I borrowed an alter ego from someone I admired, took a deep breath, and walked into that conference room like it was the most natural thing in the world.

What happened? I overcame my social anxiety, and even joined a Latin dance team as a leader.

Usually, latin dances are lead by men. But there’s nothing about gender that makes one person more suited to leadership than another.

However, I was facing a steep learning curve… 

I had limited dance experience in general, and zero experience dancing as a guy. 

What did I do? 

I pretended to be my teacher. 

If he moved his shoulder, I moved my shoulder just like his. (As exactly as I could.) 

In the beginning, I was a hot mess, but after 2 years, I’m getting better. 

One of my friends saw me dance and said, “Look at that shoulder game!”

I laughed. I have broad shoulders. And Latin dancing is all about the shoulders… and the hips… and the footwork. So, it works. 🙂

If you saw a video of me dancing, you’d still see me… a woman with red lipstick and a white stripe in her hair. 

But you’d also see the confidence and leadership skills that I’ve made my own by modeling the best of what my teacher offered me.

What’s next: If you’d like to know more about how a former 9th grade Algebra teacher helps multi-million-dollar businesses increase sales with simple “teach for action” techniques, then go to

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