Fake it till you are it

11/3/2013

Do you regularly fling yourself out of the nest, learning to fly on your way down – and way out of your comfort zone? It’s been something I’ve aimed to do for the last few years and I find it’s one of the best ways for me to grow as a person. It’s also terrifying.

Seth Godin

If you’re not one for pushing at the edges of your life, and the thought of doing so leaves you immobilised from within, I would like to introduce a little ‘no-tech life hack’ which just may help you take that first scary step out.

Most people are aware of the influence our mind has over our bodies, but our bodies can also help change our minds.

In every interaction we have with other people, we exhibit non-verbal cues (hunched shoulders, a furrowed brow). But it turns out that non verbal cues are not only picked up by those around us – we pick up our own non-verbal cues as well. And it has a significant effect on our feelings and behaviour.

In her TED Talk, ‘Your body language shapes who you are’, social psychologist Amy Cuddy describes some experiments she conducted which demonstrate that the level of the hormones testosterone (the dominance hormone) and cortisol (the stress hormone) can be significantly influenced by doing one tiny little action for two minutes. If you haven’t seen her fantastic talk, I’ve pasted it below.

With her experiment, Amy had people come in to a room, spit in to a vial, and then adopt either a high power pose, or a low power pose for two minutes. A high power pose was anything that displayed dominance – hands on hips, shoulders back, aka the Wonder Woman pose; or leaning back in a chair, hands clasped around the back of your head with your elbows sticking out either side. A low power pose was anything that had participants closed in on themselves – hunched over, shoulders slumped, eyes downcast.

She found that after two minutes of holding either stance (and one more saliva sample later), the levels of testosterone significantly increased in those who had adopted a high power pose – and their cortisol levels decreased.

For those in the low power pose group – their testosterone levels decreased and cortisol levels increased.

Amy then had them complete a test which measured their confidence to gamble in a game of chance. Of those that had adopted the high power poses 86% took the chance and gambled. Only 60% of the low power pose participants did this. The ones who felt more confident and powerful, were more likely to take a chance.

So this little trick, may help you to ‘fake’ confidence until you actually are confident. After two minutes in a high power pose, your body has sent a clear enough signal to your mind to indicate that you are more powerful, more confident and less stressed.

Take a moment, what signal are you sending your brain right now?

After hearing Amy’s talk, I thought about the potential applicability of something so easy and free, to the work I do in women’s empowerment. This small little action, may go some way to helping counter the fear and lack of confidence that hold so many women back from claiming their inner truth and power, and prevent them from giving their gifts to the world.

This power pose trick also resonates with the notion that we are all constantly emitting and receiving energy signals and varying frequencies. Power posing may help to soothe frayed and nervous energy, and help you remain focused and calm before an interview, or before giving a speech in public (which is well known to be the number one fear humans have – even more so than dying!). Just pop in to a bathroom cubicle for a couple of minutes beforehand and strike a pose.

I’ve done this a few times now, and I truly think it works. For me I think it’s the combination of standing in stillness, in a meditative head space, and adopting the ‘power’ stance which helps to centre me and tap me in to flow. I’ve even found that now in situations where I start to falter in confidence, or feel my body retreat within itself, I consciously spread myself a bit wider – a hand on the hip, shoulders back a bit more, chin up, sending a signal to my brain to calm down and stay centred in my power.

Greatness, and our personal gold, is most often found far outside our comfort zones. It lives in a space surrounded by doubt, fear and insecurities. We need to wade through these uncomfy things to get there.

We all feel out of our depth, unqualified or ‘not quite ready’ to do many things in life, or just plain scared. Using this small but powerful ‘no-tech life hack’ may help to smooth that rough and uncharted territory over just a little bit.

What do you think? Do you think you’ll use the high power pose to boost your confidence sometime soon? Or do you have any confidence boosting rituals and tricks to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

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