Do you sometimes suffer from the ‘imposter-syndrome’ and fear that, at any moment, you could be discovered as only ‘faking it’? Have you ever felt powerless, small, isolated, stupid and regretful during a meeting or conversation with people who have a higher status than you? You felt you weren’t present and you either didn’t say anything of value or anything at all? You felt like an idiot?
NOW, imagine you face the same scenario but feel resourceful, creative, full of energy. You are transmitting positive energy. You feel confident, assertive, credible, broadcasting with passionate impact. You hear yourself delivering clever content with meaning and depth, and your audience is listening to every word you’re saying. You are who and what you really are. You are present.
Let’s talk about how you can change from being someone in situation one to your-real-self in the second scenario.
Foetal is fatal
Last week I attended a talk with Prof. Amy Cuddy (check her TED talk out to learn more about her and her research) in London and she talked about her book “Presence, bringing your BOLDEST SELF to your BIGGEST CHALLENGES” sharing the results of years of research on how to become present mainly through expansive body postures.
It’s amazing to think that, just by changing your body posture, the chemistry in your brain changes – from feeling powerless to powerful. It’s your testosterone and cortisol balance that makes the difference. According to research – and many experiments prove it-, when we expand our body we feel more powerful, confident and assertive, we have more capacity for abstract thinking, creativity and we even tolerate pain better.
Amy told us her research showed that most human beings tend to sleep in the so-called foetal position. Just by changing this when waking up, for example by raising our arms, we can make a difference on how we feel at the start of the day.
Expansive is not Expensive
In my conflict work I often invite parties to stretch when feeling very tired or low and I often experienced a real energy shift after that. The parties in conflict become more empowered, optimistic and resourceful, ready to embrace resolution of their dispute.
We have now the proof that with a little bit of effort, we can influence our entire thinking and change our patterns.
In the past we heard that we can change our physical condition through will power and mind power. What about the other way round? Through changing our body posture we change the way we’re thinking? Research shows that people who are working mainly in non-expansive positions limit their brain power and people working whilst deploying a straight posture are more resourceful. Some impressive results from a study comparing the ‘brain power’ of mobile phone and tablet users versus desktop users have encouraged me to check my posture more often, in particular when busy with my smart phone. For the sceptics amongst you, this theory has also been tested with animals, with Alzheimer patients etc. with similar positive outcomes.
Amy asked us in her talk to share these results so that they become common knowledge and impact our behavioural patterns.
With this blog I’ve done my part. It’s now up to us all to double our efforts because we know it’s worth it.
As Maya Angelou said – “Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances, … stand up straight”.
 Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, by Amy Cuddy, Little Brown & Company 2015