Change Your Life by Changing Your Body Language
December 31, 2012
By Dr. Mercola
Nearly everyone is influenced by “nonverbals” — feelings and messages that are emoted by body language. From the expression on your face to the way you sit, stand, or walk, your body language is telling someone how to measure you up — and that includes yourself.
Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist, professor, and researcher at Harvard Business School, where she studies how nonverbal behavior and snap judgments affect human perceptions. Her research reveals that we can change other people’s perceptions, and even our own body chemistry, simply by changing body positions.
She’s especially interested in nonverbal expressions of power and dominance. For example, a broadening of the arms and legs is a nonverbal form of dominance that both humans and primates employ.
Or, throwing your arms wide apart in the air is an expression of both pride and power — even sightless persons who’ve never had a chance to see how others physically express their pride will display feelings of pride in this way.
Lacing your fingers behind your head with elbows pointed outward and your feet resting on your desk sends a message that you’re a strong, high-powered individual.
Reiterate your power without saying a word by standing and leaning forward with your hands on your desk. But change your position by locking your arms close to your body with your hands folded, or stand with your arms and legs crossed tightly and, suddenly, you’re perceived as submissive, weak and vulnerable.
Change Your Position and Change Your Brain
What’s fascinating is that you can evoke these feelings of power, dominance, or submission in yourself by simply assuming the different positions and holding them for as little as two minutes. That’s because your body can change your mindset, and your mindset can change your behavior. And once your behavior changes, you can change outcomes in your life — all in the way you position your body.
As Cuddy explains in this entertaining and informative video, her studies demonstrate physiological proof that your body actually does change your mindset and the way you perceive yourself. This happens because powerful hormonal changes occur in the cortisol and testosterone levels in your brain as you assume a position.
Depending on the position, your cortisol and testosterone levels will rise and fall — and your subconscious feelings of power or submission will directly correlate with those levels. Sit in a submissive way for just a couple minutes and, inexplicably, you’re not as likely to make assertive decisions. But change the pose to a powerful stance and a couple minutes later with no prompting, you feel like you’re in charge — assertive and comfortable with making high-power decisions, even when they’re a gamble.
Cuddy calls this “power posing.” But can power posing for a few minutes actually change your life in a meaningful way? Yes, she says.
Try her tested methods for exhibiting power and confidence, and learn how just a few tweaks to your body language can change both your personal perception of yourself and your life. From speaking engagements to job interviews to your performance on the job and many other situations, you can change how others perceive you, and ultimately change your life by purposely adopting a new body language.
Fake It ‘Till You Make It and Become It
But what if you think this isn’t real and it can’t last because it’s only temporary while you’re consciously posing? “Fake it ‘till you make it,” she advises, but don’t stop there: fake it until you become it — powerful, confident and proud to be you.
Two minutes, she says: two minutes, two minutes, two minutes. Think it, power-pose it, and configure your brain for whatever you want to be for just two minutes before any stressful situation, and then keep doing it. Before you know it, you’ll not only be better at whatever it is you want to achieve, but you will become it.
And then, she says, share it so that others can change the outcomes of their lives too.