Back in February, I was a juror in a mock trial for an audience of corporate defense attorneys. The guy who organized the mock trial told us one thing that has stuck with me and will maybe actually help me one day.
The lawyer alleged that holding our bodies in different positions will affect our state of mind. For example, if we sit with our shoulders slumped and our heads down, chemical changes in our bodies will make us feel less confident.
He told us what he does if he needs a client to feel more confident before s/he takes the witness stand. He sends the client somewhere private, like a restroom stall. He tells the client to stand with legs shoulder-width apart, head up, with arms over their heads (like they’ve just won something), hands in fists. He says standing like this for two minutes will raise a person’s testosterone levels and lower the person’s cortisol levels, which he says leads to increased confidence.
I did a little research as I was writing this post, and there is scientific evidence to back up this claim.
Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist at Harvard Business School…,along with her collaborator Dana Carney of Berkeley, ran an experiment in which people were directed to adopt either high-power or low-power poses for two minutes…[T]here were physiological differences between the two groups, as shown by saliva samples. While high-power posers showed an 8% increase in testosterone, low-power posers had a 10% decrease in the hormone. Meanwhile, the inverse relationship happened with cortisol, the hormone related to stress. While high-power posers experienced a 25% decrease in cortisol levels, low-power posers had a 15% increase in their stress levels.
(If you got to the aforementioned website, you can see a fantastic video of a TED Talk that Amy Cuddy gave on how body language shapes who we are. She talks about body language not just conveying information to others, but how it also influences how we feel about ourselves. Her presentation is really awesome, and I totally recommend it.)
Next time you need to feel confident, try going somewhere and standing for two minutes as if you are already victorious. Let me know how it works out for you.