Turns out that famous social psychologist Madonna was right way back in 1990 when she delivered her musical thesis Vogue. We should indeed strike a pose! If you’ve forgotten about or have never heard of voguing, it’s a form of modern dance that involves striking a series of poses as if you are modelling for a photo shoot. Maddie wrote a song about it that topped the charts in 30 countries and now science tells us she might have been onto something. Namely that being a poser gives you power!
Getting decked out in a metallic corset and pretending you’re the subject of a shagadelic Austen Powers photoshoot may not be your thing (of course if it is - go for it!) but using body posture to empower the way you feel is a very good strategy for increasing your health, happiness and success.
Where the body leads, the mind often follows. If you sit hunched over on a chair with shoulders dropped, spine curved, arms folded while wrinkling your brow and wearing a frown it’s quite likely that even if you were not feeling depressed and worried you will start to feel that way after a while. Your body is sending messages to your brain which social psychologists call postural feedback. In this case the message is “I feel powerless!”
On the other hand and foot, if you adopt an expansive posture with shoulders back, head raised, chest lifted with legs apart then you are telling your brain “Hey, I’m feeling powerful, I mean why else would I be standing like this!” And how you feel is usually the key determinant in how you act in the world and thus the results you produce. Although it’s controversial some researchers even believe maintaining a power posture like this can change your actual biochemistry and thereby elicit positive behaviours that bring successful results.
In my own workshops I have great fun with power poses. I sometimes have the entire group sit scrunched up as if each person is a human ball of misery and then have them bounce up and adopt superhero poses a la Superman or Wonder Woman while shouting a hearty “Ha ha!” There’s lots of laughter and everyone suddenly feels a whole lot more energised and alive. And by engaging in such creative craziness we step into the identity of a character who has superhuman powers. Not a bad perspective to adopt every now and then when confronted by life’s little challenges.
Changing the way you are standing or sitting is probably the most readily available strategy for changing your mood. Changing your posture can change your mind so you are feeling more powerful and positive. So go on give it a try right now…
Strike a pose!
Stand with legs apart…chest lifted, chin raised…hands on hips or fist pumping the air.
Breathe calmly and deeply and know you are bigger than any problem you could ever face.
And remember the sage words of the mighty Madonna - “You're a superstar, yes, that's what you are!”
Betterer Wishes, Anthony
Anthony Ackroyd, CEO Feel Betterer
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