Enclothed Cognition

Enclothed Cognition

What the heck is that?

I remember the first day I put them on. I would never have purchased them but I raised the ‘magic number’ of dollars for the Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Bike Tour and I received them. Since they and the matching riding top were emblazoned with the MS logo I kinda had to wear them for the ride.

‘They’ were cycling shorts. Spandex, Spandex and more Spandex. There was nowhere to conceal my secrets, these shorts were so tight even the cellulite on my butt was unable to hide. : /

My short little legs puffed out of the elastic shorts like sausages bursting in a pan. I remember riding and looking down at this foreign site, how I thought ‘my legs don’t belong in these, these are for other people, real cyclists’.

I remember also my thoughts shifting when I realized how great that built-in padding felt on my tush, how I could get on and off the bike without my baggy shorts getting caught on my bike seat and how practical those handy little pockets built into the riding shirt were.

Those clothes made me feel like a ‘real’ cyclist.

It turns out this is a real ‘thing’ – enter enclothed cognition. (Thank you spellcheck for changing enclothed to unclothed – that’s a whole other article!)

Researchers at Northwestern University introduced the term enclothed cognition – the idea that what we wear influences our psychology.

What you wear can have a symbolic meaning as well as a physical experience. What you wear can affect how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you. What you wear can affect your performance.

I don’t know about you but I can use all the help I can get generating confidence to tackle a task, be it exercise or otherwise and if a change in attire can affect how I feel before, during and after said task, which I actually experienced in the above incident, I’m willing to dress the part in other areas as well.

How about you? Acting (and dressing) ‘as if’ can go long, long way!

Dressing the part – it’s just one more way to live Your Life, Unlimited!


Stephanie Staples, CSP* is the author of When Enlightening Strikes – Creating a Mindset for Uncommon Success, an internationally acclaimed motivational speaker, and the recipient of the 2014 Manitoba Woman Entrepreneur Award for Contributions to Community. Stephanie empowers audiences & clients across North America to bring their ‘A’ game to work and to life. Stephanie has a special interest in working with and empowering nurses and healthcare providers. She happily calls Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada home. You can get loads of complimentary resources to help with issues such as work/life balance, wellness, stress management and happiness in general, as well as find out more information about her coaching and speaking services at http://www.YourLifeUnlimited.ca.

* Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), conferred by the National Speakers Association is the speaking profession’s international measure of professional platform proficiency. Less than 10 percent of speakers have earned this credential and are recognized as some of the best in their fields. Stephanie was one of only five professional speakers in Canada (and the only woman) to attain this designation in 2013.


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