Body language is a powerful tool. You probably know that in communication, a whopping 60% of our message is defined by non-verbal signs (read: body language). A lot is written about how to use body language to improve your communication with others. But while you can use body language to influence others, you might let your body speak to the most important out there: you.
By doing this, you can get yourself into any specific state you desire. For instance, if you feel unsecure, you could get in a state of confidence. And if you feel stressed, you can become relaxed. Pretty cool, huh? The body can influence the brain by the feedback it sends up the nervous system. The body to mind communication is backed up by the theory called ‘embodied cognition’. Here is how Dr. Jeremy Dean puts it:
You are in control. Here are ten types of body language that can elevate your state.
1. Move yourself into a resourceful state
Emotion is created by motion. Whatever you’re feeling right now is directly related to how you’re using your body. If you slump your shoulders and lean your head forward, you’ll move towards a state of depression. However, the next time you find yourself in a negative state, stand up, throw your shoulders back and take a few deep breaths. You’ll find that you’re able to put yourself in a resourceful state. From this state, you can make stronger decisions and enjoy a sense of certainty that will keep you calm in the face of uncertainty.
2. Pose powerfully
The motivational mantra ‘fake it till you make it’ actually is a great strategy. It’s been proven that by changing your body position to a powerful pose, you can raise your hormone levels which makes you actually feel more powerful. In one of my – and many others’ – favourite TedTalks, social scientist Amy Cuddy explains why this works. ‘By standing in a position where you make yourself big and take up a lot of space you send messages to your brain that you are confident and powerful.’ Feeling powerful by standing in a powerful pose can create results in just two minutes! This effect holds true in the animal kingdom as well. When an animal feels powerful, it will confidently stretch itself out and take up as much space as possible.
3. Open up
An open posture, with your legs and arms loose, can make you more receptive to information and ideas. It is like literally ‘opening up’ your mind for new creative potential.
Not only does smiling make us happy, it can reduce stress levels. In an experiment by Tara Kraft, people who were asked to do a ‘Duchenne smile’ – by holding chopsticks in their mouths – showed lower stress levels than people with a neutral expression and people with a normal smile. The effect of smiling goes even further. It actually can release people from their depression. I love this one because it is one of the easiest things you could do, and still so enormously powerful.
5. Tense your muscles for willpower
Tensing up your muscles can help increase your willpower. Hung and Labroo found that when people firmed up their muscles they were better able to withstand stressful situations, physical pain and disturbing information.
6. Cross arms for persistence
If a situation demands persistence, then try crossing your arms. In an experiment, people who crossed their arms worked twice as long and better results.
7. Sit straight
Sitting up straight helps increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which improves memory. And when we sit up straight, we are more likely to remember positive memories or think of something positive in general.
8. Lie down
Research found that people were better at solving anagrams when they were lying down versus sitting up. This one is great on days when you are working at home or when you are having an inspiration session outside.
9. Create anchors
Anchors are a pretty simple concept – an anchor is simply a connection between a stimulus and a certain emotional response.
They work because if a person relives an intense state, and at the peak of that experience applies a specific stimulus, then the two events will be linked neurologically. See Pavlov and his experiments with salivating dogs for proof of this.
We do anchors all the time unintentionally in our own lives. For example, a big yellow M is an anchor for either cheap, crappy food, or maybe a good-value and tasty meal. When in a car and approaching a set of lights which suddenly turn red, this is an anchor for either mild frustration – or overwhelming road rage – depending on your disposition.’
After some practice, you can get in any state in any situation with the snap of your fingers. Anchoring is one of the powerful techniques in NLP, but you must be open to it for it to work.
Don’t feel like actively ‘speaking’? Why not try to do ‘nothing’ for a change? Try the Zen pose: put your body into a meditative posture and breathe deeply. This regulates and clears the mind.
Do it right now
There is only one person needed in the dialogue between body and mind. Make sure to let your body speak today. And get yourself in the winning mood.