About 75% of our communication is non verbal – our posture, facial expression and the tone of our voice. Our brains are wired to initially focus on peoples ‘non verbals’ and that is what we base most of our judgements on. This is an automatic process that saves the brain time and energy and makes it work efficiently, rather than thoroughly.
How your body affects your brain
How other people feel about us depends heavily on our non verbal communication but how we feel about ourselves is also affected by our non verbal communication. Our posture, facial expression and tone of voice directly influence how we think, feel and behave. This is called bottom up processing or body to brain processing. The brain and the body are connected and are constantly communicating. What you think and how you feel influences your non verbals but the opposite is also true. Your non verbals influence what you think and feel.
For example, when you think back to happy moments your body becomes more relaxed, your eyes light up and you tend to smile. This is your brain influencing your body. When you make a conscious effort to smile and relax your body, your brain will be more likely to think positive thoughts and have positive feelings. However when you frown and tense your shoulders negative memories, thoughts and feelings will come up. This is how your body influences your brain.
Research by Psychologist Amy Cuddy shows that confident people have high levels of testosterone which is associated with dominance. They have low levels of cortisol which is associated with stress. This combination of high testorerone levels and low cortisol levels is often found in successful people and leaders.
Research shows that just two minutes in either a power pose or a submissive pose changes they way you think, feel and behave. You can affect the testosterone and cortisol levels in you brain by changing your posture and facial expressions and it takes only 2 minutes to achieve a significant change.
The power pose that I recommend is putting your arms up in the air, lifting your chin and smiling. The stronger you make the pose the stronger the effect on your testosterone and cortisol levels. You can imagine yourself running over a finish line and saying “Yes I did it!”. After two minutes of doing this your testosterone will have gone up and your cortisol will have dropped making you feel more confident.
Doing a power pose configures your brain to cope with the situation ad hand in the best possible way. It prevents your brain from shutting down because of stress, nervousness or insecurities and it allows you to be more in control.
This TED talk by psychologist Amy Cuddy offers more information about the mentioned research and techniques.