Every month we bring your way ideas and information on resources, media, or tools to be inspirational, motivating, or helpful in your recovery journey.
Our resource spotlight is shining on another Ted Talk this month.
A few months ago, one of the books being displayed in our waiting room as a recommended read was the book Presence: Bringing your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy. Cuddy is a social psychologist researcher and an Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Her area of focus is studying discrimination and stereotyping, emotions, power, and nonverbal behavior. In addition to her book, she also gave a wonderful Ted Talk on the same topic.
The Ted Talk discusses the impact of our bodies on our mind and ultimately our behavior. It seems obvious that our minds change our bodies, which is the top down hierarchy of the neuromuscular system. If you think about an action or a physical pose in your mind, you can make your body carry it out. When we feel sad or excited, our body moves in postures that help us to express that experience. But a newer insight being understood is that it also works the other way around.
Our body language, referred to as nonverbals by Cuddy, can actually change our minds. Cuddy’s research measured hormone levels of testosterone (dominance hormone) and cortisol (stress hormone) after participants had held either a high power pose or low power pose for two minutes. Assuming a high-power pose – a position of open and extended arms, stretched out torso, being tall and upright, leaning forward, or the “Wonder Woman” pose with hands on hips, were shown to increase feelings of confidence, optimism, assertiveness, and willingness to take risks. Conversely, low-power poses – becoming small, pulled in, lowered head, and slumping revealed a decrease in testosterone and an increase in cortisol as people described feeling less confident, being unsure, and unease.
Cuddy makes the case that in stressful situations such as a job interview, it may increase our sense of confidence and decrease our stress levels by allowing ourselves to purposely hold a power stance and allow for confidence to grow. This increases one’s ability to bring one’s true and authentic self into the situation. Rather than “fake it till you make it,” Cuddy suggests we can “fake it till we become it” as we pay attention to the way our body impacts the presence we bring into a room with others.
So why does this matter beyond hormone measures and successful job interviews? It matters because we can impact our emotional selves by connecting to our bodies. Trauma, depression, feeling intimidation or fear can all be impacted by making volitional choices in how we inhabit our body. View this Ted Talk here and see if you might shift your self-perception and self-image by making changes to the way you occupy your body.
Written by Cheryl Schenck LPC, CSAT