Recently, I came across this amazing TED talk from social psychologist, Harvard Business professor and classically trainer dancer Amy Cuddy. Cuddy’s fascinating talk is all about power posing – basically, making your body bigger so that your mind (and how others see you) follow. I found the talk extremely interesting as well as extremely applicable – especially for women.
Amy’s theory is that body language and non-verbal cues effect how we are perceived in an actual biological, animal-instinct way. Specifically, she suggests practicing certain positions in order to make yourself feel, and therefore appear, more powerful. These poses actually can RAISE our testosterone (dominance hormone) and LOWER our cortisol (stress hormone). Bottom line – our minds don’t just change our body, but our bodies change our minds. As a communication major myself, I remember learning quite a bit about non-verbal communication, and the studies on this topic are extensive. In fact, often our non-verbal communication says much more to people than our verbal communication does.
Aside from utilizing this technique in business (I work part-time, so I straddle both worlds, as it were), I thought the power posing could also be applied to mothering. During a somewhat trying afternoon the other day – I tried her theory/my theory out. Hiding from my kids in the bathroom for sixty seconds, I did some power posing of my own. While I certainly felt somewhat silly staring at myself mimicking a Gorilla in the mirror, I seriously think it worked! First of all, the lightheartedness of the exercise took me out of the overwhelming moment forced me to breath. But the power posing itself had an effect to. While it’s hard to determine if my 2 year old and 4 year old were more intimidated by me, I really did feel more powerful, more in control and more sure of myself. I ignored their whining and took a firmer, calmer approach to the issue(s) at hand.
So, thank you Amy Cuddy. I’m a believer. And this is one TED talk I’d strongly recommend.