Originally published by Robert Beisert at fortcollinsprogram.robert-beisert.com

Improve your Mood with Power Poses

Pattern:


if(designated_time)

for(seconds=0; seconds<30; seconds++)
{

Shoulders_Back();

Spine_straight();

Hands_on_hips();

Feet_apart();

Head_up();

Breathe_Deeply();

Think_Affirmation("I am strong and in control");

}

Many people look at the concept of “power poses” as pseudoscientific nonsense, in part because the Tedx people who speak of it aren’t very convincing. However, when we consider how the body and the subconscious communicate with one another, we can see that consciously acting as though we feel a certain way tends to cause the subconscious to create the feelings that we are simulating. To put it crassly, we can “fake it ’til you make it.”

Isolating the Bodily Frame

There are certain physical behaviors we assume when we feel certain emotions. When we are happy, we smile with our entire face (in particular, the mouth and the eyes). When we feel comfortable in our physical environment, we experience a relaxed feeling in our muscles and tend to take up more space than when we do not feel comfortable. When we are confident and in control, we tend to make more eye contact and stand straighter. These are the physical reflections of the subconscious feelings we experience.

Because we know that our subconscious can also be affected by our bodies, it makes perfect sense that recreating the physical behaviors of certain emotional states would cause the subconscious to reflect that same emotional state. Actors have long realized that acting angry causes them to become angry, and acting in love tends to create those same feelings. It’s at the heart of the stunning performances of Christian Bale, Johnny Depp, Robert Downy, Jr., Jack Nicholson, and the late Heath Ledger.

As a practical example, watch Sean Connery play James Bond. If you study the way he talks, the way he carries himself, and the things he does, you will find a set of behaviors that reflect his confidence and charm. By replicating these behaviors and imagining that you are inside his head, you will naturally find yourself feeling more confident and charismatic.

Call to Action

The pattern above contains the most basic “power pose” – the confident strength stance. It’s basically the same position Superman takes during his most heroic moments in the comics and film. By recreating the power pose, you will find yourself experiencing feelings of strength and control.

The individual pieces of the stance are as follows:

  • Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart or just a bit farther. You want to feel that your weight is centered between both feet, and you should be leaning forward ever so slightly such that about 60% of your weight is on the balls of your feet and 40% on the heels.
  • Place your hands on your hips. For best results, the thumbs should be pointing directly behind you and the forefingers directly forward, so that your shoulders are directly above your hands. When in the full position, the side view should be that your arms are perfectly in line with your spine.
  • Tighten your shoulder blades and push your chest forward.
  • Push your butt backwards slightly beyond what you find comfortable. This has the result of tightening your lower back muscles and straightening your spine. The reason it is uncomfortable to most of us is because sitting in even ergonomic chairs weakens those lower back muscles, producing a less straight posture.
  • Take deep, relaxed breaths. When we are relaxed and comfortable, we tend to breath more deeply than when we are stressed or uncomfortable, which means that deep breaths reinforce the sense of strength and control.
  • Simulate the mental state of being confident. This is the hardest part for some people, but you should try to cultivate the same feeling that your body is simulating. Best results are always achieved when the body and mind are in sync. If you don’t know exactly how to feel confident, repeat confident affirmations in your head during the exercise.

After holding the pose for only a few seconds, you will begin to feel your subconscious reproducing the feeling. Hold the position as long as you like, because the longer you hold the position the longer the experience will last after you are done, and the more powerful the feeling will become.

Manipulating your emotional state through control of your body is a very powerful technique. Practice often, and learn to notice when you are taking on the physical state of emotions you don’t want, because when you are aware of your body’s state you can control it to produce and reinforce better emotional states.