Today I want to suggest another habit that you can implement together with your daily affirmations or just a nice trick you can use when needed. If you read our article about habit change, you are already familiar with habits, how they are created and how you can change them. If you didn’t yet, make sure to check it out.
In the next few lines, I want to talk about our bodies and how they can influence our minds. Yes, that’s right. Not the other way around. While it’s already well known that our mind, meaning our thoughts and emotions, can influence our body, the other way around is something relatively new. But let’s start with the basics.
How our mind influences our body
Think about it for a minute. If you are feeling sad or depressed, how is your body posture? Usually, your shoulders are dropping, you slouch and sort of close off, maybe crossing your arms and legs. On the other hand, if you’re happy your body is more open, maybe you raise your arms, standing tall and obviously you smile right?
That is how your mind influences your body and while we might not notice this about ourselves, it’s quite easy to notice it on others. Have you ever seen a friend of yours sitting in the position described above, the whole body closed? You immediately think he is not feeling well, that he’s upset or sad, right? While if someone walks tall towards you, smiling and opening their arms, you might wonder what they’re so happy about! I mean, apart from seeing you.
So, is there something we can do about this? When it comes to ourselves, the first step is being more aware of our bodies. The body response is so immediate that sometimes we don’t even realize that we are having negative thoughts, therefore we are slouching. Our thoughts and our bodily reactions seem to happen at the same time, we don’t even know what came first. By becoming more aware of our bodies we can detect these changes and do something about it.
How our body influences our mind
To get to the point, recent research has shown that by changing our posture we can change our thoughts. While it’s more difficult to focus on trying to consciously change our thoughts, especially when we are having negative thoughts, a change in our posture is something we can do in a matter of seconds.
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy has done in-depth research on the topic and she shows how standing in a “power pose”, as she calls them, can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in our brain. A power pose would be a posture of confidence. Think about Wonder Woman, standing tall, with her hands on her hips. Or about Usain Bolt crossing the finish line, looking up, smiling, hands in the air. According to Amy Cuddy, even holding such a posture for two minutes, can have beneficial effects on our brain. We feel more confident and happier and it increases our chances of success.
I invite you to check out the TED Talk Amy Cuddy gave on the topic, where she explains this more in-depth and goes through the experiments they did that led to this concept. The bottom line is, we can change our thoughts by changing our posture. Assuming a high-power pose will boost our self-confidence, increase our testosterone levels and decreases our cortisol levels. On the other hand, assuming a low-power pose will do the opposite, making us feel weaker, lowering our testosterone levels and increasing our cortisol levels.
Remember, testosterone is the dominance hormone while cortisol is the stress hormone. And research has proven that powerful and effective leaders have high testosterone and low cortisol.
How can you use this in your daily life?
It’s actually pretty easy. Next time you feel sad or lacking confidence, try assuming a power pose for two minutes. Stand tall, feet wide and hands on your hips, chin up. Or if you prefer, stay seated, put your hands behind your head, chest open. If you’re at home, maybe even put your feet on the desk. In a classical boss pose! Breathe and maybe try to even smile. Maybe, in the beginning, it will feel awkward but the effects on your brain are scientifically proven.
You can even try to combine this with your daily affirmations habit. While you listen to or repeat your daily affirmation, assume a power pose, to boost your self-confidence even more!
And as Amy Cuddy says at the end of her TED Talk, “Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it.”