Harvard professor and scientist Amy Cuddy knew that our minds could change our bodies but the question she now posed was “do our bodies change our minds?” Her definition of the mind was our thoughts, feelings and the physiological things – for her it was the hormones that make up our thoughts and feelings. She’s a scientist so she had to have something measurable.
Everyone knows that body language affects how others see us. When we see someone with arms crossed in front of their chest it is a sign of being closed. The person who has just won a race raises their arms and chin in victory. The person with his head bowed and his chest caved in emits feelings of powerlessness. It’s quite the opposite for the person who is feeling powerful and opens his whole body.
Amy wanted to know if how we used our body could change how we viewed ourselves. I was intrigued. I have just been looking at a photograph of me as a teenager. As a teenager growing up I was always shy. And as I looked at the picture of the teenage me I felt like I was looking at the hunch back of Notre Dame – my shoulders were rounded, my chest caved in – a classic powerless position and a feeling I often felt at that age.
Amy Cuddy was able to prove that by changing my body position not only could I change other people’s perceptions of me, I could also change my own body chemistry. Better yet, it started with only two minutes!
By adopting a “power pose” you can change the testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain. Testosterone is considered the dominance hormone and cortisol is the stress hormone. Powerful people will have higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of cortisol.
Wonder Woman, standing with her feet apart, her chest open and her hands on her hips is an example of a “power pose.” By standing in that position for two minutes before a stressful job interview, that candidate was the one chosen to be hired every time over the candidate who had sat cross-legged and closed in before the interview.
Why is this important? The power pose candidate showed more confidence, was more assertive and more optimistic. If you have to go through a stressful evaluation, like a job interview, it can help how you come across to the interviewer. You may even get the job, which in turn, will continue to boost your self-confidence.
What about the morning when you get up not feeling great? Use the ‘power pose’ for two minutes changing the hormone levels in your body to be more powerful and influence how your day will start.
Normally, we would say, “fake it until you make it”, but Amy suggests that you do this exercise on a regular basis and before you know it you will “fake it until you become it”.
Willing to give this a try? I’d love to hear about it.