How Body Language Could Change Your Life


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Can the way you walk determine how you feel, or even how successful you become? Can slouching in a chair lead to depression? 

Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, discusses this in her "TED talk" from October 2012, called "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are." She reveals how "power posing" - standing in a posture of confidence, even when you don't feel confident- can affect the measures of testosterone and cortisol levels in your brain. Her research shows that you literally change your body chemistry by changing your body position.

In an article published in the Journal of Biofeedback (Oct '12), Professor of Health Education, Erik Peper found that simply choosing to alter body posture to a more upright position can improve mood and energy levels. In this Paper, Peper states that "we tend to think that the brain and body relationship goes one way... when in fact the passages go both ways". He goes on to say, "when you choose to put your body in a different position (more empowered position), its harder to drop into depression."  

Tony Robbins, guru of enhancing human potential, says that the quickest way to change your emotional state is to change your body language. If you mimic successful body language you will feel and become empowered. If you mimic disempowered body language you will instantly feel disempowered (depressed, angry, guilty, fearful...). In Mr. Robbin's "Emotional Triad" he states that if you change your focus, body language or words that you use to communicate you can instantly change the way you feel or your emotional state. 

 In a discussion with actress Amanda Miller she explained that in order to get into character you need to apply all of the tools provided in Robbin's "Emotional Triad". For you to become a character in a role you need to change your script (words and tone of voice), your mental focus and in particular your body language. If you neglect any of these you will have a hard time landing your part. She explained that the easiest way to assume a mental state was to work on the exact body language of the character you are auditioning for.  

If you want to be healthy, act healthy. If you want to be sexy, act sexy. If you want to be smart, act smart... what ever you want act that way! To change your healthiness, sexiness, intelligence simply look around for role models and mimic the way they move...my father (as a chiropractor) has always been a student of the way the body moves and how the body's movement affects the way we feel. I am always amazed by a story that he tells from when he was in graduate school in Chicago; it was in the early 90s and Michael Jordan was one of the two or three biggest icons in the world. With that, my father decided that he was going to study and mimic the movement of "walk" in order to feel what it felt like to be that great. Over the next one or two months he watched and mirrored Michael's mannerisms, not telling anyone what he was doing. Then one day in an anatomy lab, he said that his anatomy partner (described as a "very cute brunette") out of the blue said, "I know this is going to sound strange but you really remind me of... Michael Jordan!" The key piece that I have left out of this story is that my father is 5'10", white and has blonde hair. My point is, other than the fact that my father is a very good actor, that if you want to be "something" you have to be willing to act like that "something". 

So, lets go back to the question can the way you walk determine how you feel, or even how successful you become? Can slouching in a chair lead to depresssion? The answer to both questions is that they certainly can have a significant effect... the more important question is, are you willing to take advantage of all of the tools that are available to build a life that you are proud of? If you want to win the starring role in the life of your dreams, you have to be willing to "act" like the main character in this production (not just on a rare occasion, you must be willing to immerse yourself in this role if you want it). If you want to be a strong, inspirational, change maker then you have to be willing to take on that character's "form".

Step one in forming your new act? Observe your old. Pay attention to your postures when studying, texting, or sitting with friends. Are you slouched? Own the room and sit up.

Want to make friends? Make eye contact and meet them with an inviting smile.

Want to command respect? When you walk, don't keep your arms crossed in front of your chest, swing your arms and move with strength and grace.

Check out this famous clip from the movie "Any Given Sunday" note how the postures of these near defeated players change and they come out of the locker room ready to dominate. 

"The inches we need are everywhere around us," 


Don't be shy, fake it til you make it.

Come on, chest up, every journey starts with a first step! 

2 Comments

Jess,

This is a great post! I am one with terrible posture. I slouch all the time and never stand up straight. I spent my entire lifetime listening to my mother yell at me saint "stand up straight or you're going to end up like the hunchback!" It is very true that body language shapes who you are. There have been multiple times in my life when I could tell something was wrong with someone by their body language. There is also that sense that those people who walk straight and have good posture are the ones that are smart, and those who are always hunched over could be sad or upset about something. I thought that the tips you listed at the bottom of this article are very helpful and can possibly help someone change around the hints they give off by their body language!

This is extremely interesting. It reminded me of the phrase "fake it till you make it." In psychological terms this means self-fulfilling prophesy. Meaning if you believe that you can do something or you act like you will, the most likely outcome is that what you want will come true. This also affects how other people treat you. If you pretend to be confident, people will see you as confident and act around you the way they would act before a confident person helping the cycle of you being confident.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-empathic-misanthrope/201109/fake-it-til-you-make-it

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