I recently listed to a very intriguing neuroscience conference (okay, you caught me, I am a medical geek) where they discussed the brains reaction to body posture. I won’t go deeply in to the whole research program as it was over 2 hours long (and yes, I sat and watched the whole thing – medical geeks do that 😉 ) but I will tell you the lesson that I took from it.
The study got people to stand in certain poses that were either “high power” or “low power” for only two short minutes and then sent them in to a room where they were interviewed in a very stressful way. Saliva tests were done before and after to measure the levels of the stress hormone cortisol to test their bodies physical reaction to the stress.
Something very interesting happened.
When the participants stood in the powerful poses for 2 minutes before the interview, they not only did better in the interview but their cortisol levels were lower at the end of it.
When the participants stood in the low power poses for only 2 minutes before the interview, they did more poorly in the interview and their cortisol levels were higher.
These people did nothing but stand or sit a certain way with no explanation given as to why for a mere 2 minutes and yet their pose directly affected the outcome of the interview AND their stress response levels. An actual rise in cortisol levels was clear. Amazing right?
So why am I sharing this? I took a lesson from this experiment. If you can actively make a decision to stand in more powerful poses during your day, you will do better with your work/chores/relationships than if you are all slouchy and curled in to yourself. I think that is awesome enough on its own but more can come from this.
What if you just start to act like what you wish to be? You may not be that person yet but if you tell your body and your mind that you are and the people around you get the same message, I believe you can make these wishes come true for yourself.
An example (but feel free to insert whatever you issue is – one at a time)…
If you are shy and wish to be more comfortable around people, decide before each situation to not only stand in a more powerful pose but to also just be less shy. I know it won’t be easy but just override your fears and act as though you are not as shy as you’ve been in the past.
At first you will be faking it. No doubt there. You might not even be a good faker but you will get better at it. Every day and every time you encounter a situation where you would normally be shy? Choose to be more confident.
In time there will be a shift. You might not even notice it at first but one day you will walk in to a room and feel more confident. Truly less shy and you won’t be faking any longer. You have actually become that more confident person you wanted to be.
It will take work but anything worth having in your life is worth working for isn’t it?
Whatever you wish to be, you can make it happen. More confident, more empathetic, less harsh, a better student, less anxious, healthier… it is really all at your fingertips if you are just willing to override your usual thoughts and replace them with what you want to be.
So don’t just “fake it until you make it”.
Fake it until you BECOME it.