But rarely we stop to think about how our own body language affects ourselves – our confidence, our way of thinking and our own behavior.
Yet it is a fact that our own body language effects our thinking and feelings immensely.
Try it out for yourself, with a small exercise:
Now, put your shoulders up. Take couple of really deep breaths. Put your chin up. Put a big grin on your face. And now, try to think about something really sad and feel depressed about it.
So often we think that happy mood comes first, and that laughter on our lips is only a demonstration of that. But the truth is, it works both ways. Remember of the times when you feel sad, but someone close to you just cannot stop with a happy laugh, and you just get engaged in that contagious laugh, started laughing even if you didn’t feel happy yet, but it lead to feeling relaxed and joyful couple of moments later?
Great insights into this can be seen in TED speech by Amy Cuddy on the topic of “Your body language shapes who you are”
When we want to demonstrate power, we spread out and try to look bigger. But we do the same when we feel in power. And most important, that posture itself leads us to feeling even more so.
When we feel powerless, we close up and make ourselves small. Yet, we don’t even notice that that posture will only lead us towards feeling even smaller….
“Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.”
Effect of this is much greater than we perceive it on a first sight: from Amy’s observation, how safe people feel (which shows in their body language) actually effects how much they participate in class – and because of that, how successful they end up being.
She asked students to fake powerful body language, to see if they would feel more in power – and it worked wonderfully! Asking her students to behave the way they would like to feel really led into them starting to feel that state as natural, and to identify with it.
As she would say, “Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it.”
Or in other words, “Our bodies change our minds.”
Now, the real question is, what can we do with this valuable knowledge?
First of all, a great step would be to become aware of it. To tune into how we feel, and see what is the “underlying” body language to that feeling and to play with changing that body posture or movement, to see and feel how that affects our emotional state.
Next step is to apply this powerful information – to use it in speeches, but also in situations which we feel as a social threat and we would like to feel more confident in, as well in situations in which it really matters to us to leave a good impression – for example, at a job interview.
If there is only one thing you will remember from this article, please remember this one: your body is a wonderful tool and it is in your power to use it to create any mindset that you would like to have in a certain moment!
There is only one small catch to it – you need to go out there and use it!
P.S. This speech is also a great example of making it personal and sharing a story – notice how greatly Amy connects to the audience by using her own genuine emotion.