If you lack confidence, courage or even bravery – it can be tough to gain the skills you need to move past this. We need to be brave when we are scared of something. The problem is that fear is around every corner, and being scared is normal. It’s a natural response designed to keep us safe and stop us from doing stuff that might hurt us. It’s just biology – the fight, flight or freeze response.
However, what’s cool is that we can influence what hormones are released and therefore how we feel. All by powering up and changing our body language. It’s easy to forget that the mind and body are connected. For those who lack confidence, embracing your stance could be just the ticket to boosting yours.
Do you want more confidence? Here’s why it could be as simple as making a change to your body language.
The Amy Cuddy Power Pose
In her TED talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy explains a two-minute life hack for improving our chances of a scary or high-pressure situation going well. It involves what she calls a “power pose” that you do before the event or situation. There are several power poses to choose from. This includes standing like a superhero with your legs planted hip-distance apart and your hands on your hips. Or sitting with your feet up on a desk and your hands clasped behind your head.
High power poses increase the physical space we occupy. Low power poses – such as hunching our shoulders or holding our arms close to our body – do the opposite. They shrink the space we occupy, so we make ourselves smaller. Try this in the mirror and see it for yourself. What is your body language saying in high vs low power poses? Imagine if you were in a job interview – which would make you look more confident? It’s all in the body language!
Putting The Cuddy Theory To The Test
Cuddy and her collaborators wanted to know if it’s possible to fake confidence or bravery until we feel it. To test the theory, a group of volunteers were asked to spit into a vial, so that their baseline levels of testosterone (confidence hormone) and cortisol (stress hormone) could be measured. Half the participants were then told to engage in high power poses and the other half in low power poses. Neither group were told which were which, or the purpose of the experiment, so they couldn’t guess the nature of the poses. After just two minutes, each participant’s hormone levels were retested. What was astonishing was that two minutes of physical posturing was enough to change their physiology.
The high power pose group experienced a 20 per cent increase in testosterone and a 25 per cent reduction of cortisol, whereas the low-power pose group experienced a 10 per cent decrease in testosterone and a 15 per cent increase in cortisol levels. If we are to access our bravery we need also to access our confidence and positivity, to be assured that the risk will be worth it, whilst also minimising the stress we may feel at facing our fears. It makes sense, therefore, to engage in two minutes of high-power posing whenever we need a little extra boost.
To Sum Up
By embracing courage and bravery as a life skill rather than a tool for emergencies only, we learn to flex the bravery muscle and expand our capability and potential. The more we do it, the easier and less intimidating it becomes. As the Amy Cuddy experiment proved, the way we perceive ourselves through our stance can greatly influence the outcome. So, it’s time to strike a pose and power up.
As a virtual therapist and life coach, I help my clients with a wide range of issues, including a lack of confidence. Be sure to get in touch if this would be of benefit to you. My sessions are based in Norwich and London, as well as virtually for clients who cannot see me in person (including international clients). I also have a book called Your Life Your Way, which will help you by giving you the tools to boost your personal development.