Strike a Pose!

Strike a Pose!

Learn how the shapes you create with your body alter your own body chemistry (testosterone & cortisol) which ultimately determine the results you achieve in your life.

Did you know that there is actually power behind the shapes that you make with your body? These shapes in turn determine how you feel and think about yourself, and ultimately what you can accomplish and become and it only takes 2 minutes – pretty mind blowing! Seriously! Very cool stuff & it totally works!

I remember the very 1st time that I gave a talk in front of a large group of about 500 people and it was scary! I was on a panel with some very established presenters….having some imposter syndrome thoughts…and some negative thought loops…and I remembered having learned about this concept of “body shapes” so I did what I am going to share with you, created a certain shape with my body and voila! I rocked the talk!

Here is another example: I was coaching a physician client who the following day was heading into a meeting she was very concerned about to discuss her new work schedule with her department chairman (since she was a new mom and deep into the COVID pandemic) ….so I taught her what I had learned and she had a very successful meeting and was able to negotiate for exactly what she wanted!….OK…so I know you are saying..tell me too! I want to learn!…so here we go…

There is a 2 way street: In one direction–our thoughts about our circumstances determine how we feel in our bodies which I work a lot with when I am life coaching…. AND what I have come to also learn is that in the other direction–the shapes that we make with our bodies actually determine our thoughts and how we feel! I first learned this from Amy Cuddy, a Harvard social psychologist and researcher, who says to share this science and give it away to everyone so here it is for you!

Let’s deconstruct our body language or nonverbal behavior even further and notice how this language communicates. Our body language determines 2 things: 1st how others see us and 2nd how we see ourselves.

1st–How others see us

Someone can look at you and tell pretty quickly how you are feeling by the shape of your body. Just as you can do the same by looking at another person, right? If you see someone standing tall and upright, shoulders back, making eye contact with you, waving hello, extending their hand for a shake, smiling … you make a certain inference about what’s up with that individual vs. if someone is hunched over, looking down or away, crossed arms, no hand extended, no wave, frowning….you make a different inference. Even without speaking, our body language silently tells a story about ourselves to another person.

Now here is the really cool part:

2nd—our body language determines how we “see” ourselves from the inside

We see the same kind of behavior in the way that animals nonverbally communicate with one another based on their body language. The respected dominant powerful animals are the ones that make themselves really huge—expand their arms up in a V—chin lifted—stretched out big—opening themselves up as much as they can. The animals that feel powerless do the exact opposite of this. They make themselves as small as possible, curling up and hiding.

In addition, research has found that there are differences in corresponding hormone levels namely testosterone (the dominance hormone) and cortisol (the stress hormone). Both alpha males in the primate world and powerful effective human leaders have in common high testosterone and low cortisol levels. They are both assertive and calm and that is what we want in a leader, right?! And also what we want and need to be successful ourselves.

So the experiment went like this: saliva samples were collected from college students measuring testosterone (dominance hormone) and cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Then they were told to create high power poses (for example superhero poses like Wonder Woman placing their hands on their hips) or low power poses (head down on the desk, curled up) for 2 minutes. Following this, their testosterone and cortisol levels in their saliva were rechecked. What do you think they found? In comparing their testosterone levels: High power posing students had a 20% increase in testosterone and low power posing students had a 10% decrease. So the dominant hormone went up in those who were high power posing and dropped in those who were low power posing. The opposite occurred with cortisol levels: High power posing students had a 25% decrease in cortisol and low power posing students had a 15% increase in cortisol. So the stress hormone decreased in those who were high power posing and increased in those who were low power posing. Can you believe it?! JUST 2 minutes….ONLY 2 minutes…leads to these significant hormone changes simply by changing the shape of your body!

So let’s put it all together now:

The shapes you create with your body lead to hormone changes that directly affect your brain and result in you either becoming assertive, confident and calm OR stressed, reactive and shut down. Big WHOA, right??

Imagine now how you can use this newfound knowledge?! Now it is your turn to practice this! High power pose – you can put your hands on your hips like a superhero (and I actually look in the mirror when I do this for greater effectiveness)…you can walk around as well….and do it for 2 minutes… and notice how you feel! THEN I want you to use it the next time you need to feel confident, strong, powerful & assertive…maybe you are giving a talk, going into a meeting, heading into a conversation…whatever…just do it! Strike a pose and achieve the results you so desire!

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Sherita D. Gaskins-Tillett, MD

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