Fake It ’til You Make It

“When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I’ve never tried before.” — Mae West

Your body language can affect how others see you, but, according to social psychologist Amy Cuddy, it may also change how we see ourselves. In a TED Talk, she shows how what she calls “power posing” e.g. standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident, may indeed increase our confidence levels.

Amy starts the talk off with an offer of a free, no-tech, life hack. She says all you have to do is change your posture for two minutes. Doing so will automatically increase your confidence.

Amy studies non-verbal expressions of power and dominance. What are they? She says in the animal kingdom they’re about expanding yourself and making yourself bigger. Projecting power and confidence. She says humans actually do the same thing, especially when they’re feeling powerful in the moment. As an example, she says people, whether sighted of blind, will typically raise their arms above their heads in a V, projecting power and confidence after winning a race.

According to Amy, powerful people, not surprisingly, tend to be more assertive and more confident. This is demonstrated physiologically with the levels of two key hormones. Testosterone and cortisol.

In a study, she had subjects adopt a “power pose” for two minutes. Other subjects also adopted what she called low power poses. She discovered the high power posing resulted in about a 20% increase in testosterone and about a 25% decrease in cortisol levels. Those subjects who adopted low power poses experienced about a 10% decrease in testosterone and about a 15% increase in cortisol.

The two-minute power pose leads to hormonal changes that configure your brain to basically be assertive and confident, or stress reactive. So, can “power posing” really change your life in meaningful ways?

Amy says tiny tweaks can lead to big changes. She recommends before going into your next stressful event, whether in the elevator, in a bathroom stall, or at your desk behind closed doors, adopt the “power pose.” Configure your brain to cope best with the situation by getting your testosterone up and your cortisol down.

Can power posing really change your physiology thereby significantly changing your life? My take; what’s the harm in trying? You can view her entire TED Talk here.


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