Let's do a little experiment.
Fold your arms.
Now look down.
Notice how one arm is over the other. Which arm is on top? Now change it around, placing the other arm on top. Keep it there for a moment.
Feels awkward doesn't it?
This feeling you are experiencing is called cognitive dissonance. Basically: A feeling of awkwardness because your mind is slightly disconnected from your body. Your mind does not like this feeling, that's why you have the urge to return to your status quo: Changing your arms the other way around. This is a great example of the mind forcing the body to involuntary doing something.
There a lot's of other examples, let's go through a handful:
Rubbing your leg with your hand:
Seems innocent, but under the hood things are happening. From our childhood we have learned rubbing is comforting. Whenever us as kids bumped our heads our moms would come along and rub it for us. So what happens when adults come into stressful situations? We have the tendency to rub our leg/neck/arm. It is a sign of discomfort and we do it to calm ourselves.
Holding your neck:
From the old days we have done this when we needed to defend ourselves. The neck is one of the most vulerable places on our body, so when we feel scared or defensive, we have the tendency to hold or touch our necks. Having a tough conversation and you see him touching the neck? He is not comfortable and he has the feeling he needs to defend himself.
Fingers in front of the mouth:
This could mean a couple of things. Lying requires tension and stress and we relieve this tension by touching our face, in particular our mouth because that has our focus. We want to hide our lips because we do not want our lies to be spotted. Another cause could be because we have something to say, but we choose to keep it to ourselves. Holding our fingers in front of our mouth is an attempt to keep our words to ourselves, keeping it for another time. So don't start accusing people of lying just yet.
These are all examples of the body acting upon the mind, but would it be possible to change this around? Is it possible to change your physical posture to alter your mental state? It definitely is, but it's not easy.
Let's go through a couple of options:
The Power Stance:
If you stand with your weight towards one of your legs you might be aware this is not the most stable posture. It's unbalanced and this translates into your mental state. You feel like a small breeze could push you to the floor. This is strengthened if you slouch, hold your head down and cross your arms. If you want to take a more steady physical and mental state, put your weight on both legs, stand straight, back straight, arms to your sides and chin up. I promise: you will feel more confident, balanced and energetic. Backed my research.
Smiling makes us happy, but we only smile when we are happy. Or do we? Perhaps we could trick our mind to be happy by giving it something that looks like a smile. Do you have a pen or pencil laying around on your desk? Pick it up. Place it between your teeth. Can't imagine this making you happy? It does. Your body thinks it's smiling and technically speaking it is, and the mind adjusts. We do become happier by performing the Happy-Maker Trick. Backed by research.
Do you have a tough meeting coming up? A job interview you're nervous about? Head to the toilet 5 minutes in advance, stick a pen between your teeth, take the Power Stance and you'll go into the meeting a lot more confident. Maybe that shift in confidence makes the difference between getting that job or not. Worst case scenario, you have a little laugh seeing yourself in the mirror. Doesn't seem so bad does it?
Go for it.
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