A friend surprised me once saying “Davida, you’re so dang confident.”
I had to reflect on this because if he asked me if I was confident I don’t think my answer would be yes. I feel confident about some things like riding a bike, cooking or nagging my children. But even then there is a hint of worry that I could crash, burn the food or scar my offspring for life. Like many others everyday I have doubts and fears and always hope I’m making the right decisions and gestures toward others. So why was he looking at me like such a confident person? I think a lot of it has to do with fitness.
Body language says a lot and people make judgments about you by looking at how you stand, sit or act.
A person standing tall with good posture is perceived as a more confident person than one standing with arms crossed or shoulders slumped. Studies on the body language of winners in sports or other activities find that they display their confidence with gestures like open shoulders, extended arms and pushed out torso.
Good posture or standing tall with confidence requires strength and strong core muscles.
- Try standing in your best posture and take note of the muscles you use.
- Feel your upper back muscles engage as you lift your chest and pull your shoulders back in order to stretch out the spine.
- Next your tummy tightens as you squeeze your butt. How long can you hold this posture?
- If you train these muscles and develop a neuropath way to the brain it can become automatic and you too can have the stance of a winner.
When my friend saw me as confident he was observing the result of dancing training and my weekly exercise routine, which includes instructing others on developing these muscles. I use a lot of balancing exercise to strengthen the core. I add a weighted ball for extra challenge. One of my favorite weight lifting exercises is a bent row, which strengthens those upper back muscles so pulling my shoulders back to stand tall is second nature.
Upon further thought I realize my friend is right, I am very confident. With these muscles working for me I not only feel bolder, I am fearless. After years of standing in front of fitness classes, I have the experience of knowing these exercises work.
More importantly when I walk into a room, I project that self-reliance and bring attention to myself. My body posture has actually trained my mind to make me more confident. Researchers call this “fake it till you make it”. By standing and acting more confident I have become more confident.
A study of so called “power posing” found that when people practice standing and posing in winning or confident stances they actually became more self-assured.
Thus if you are strong and can stand confidently you will become a more courageous person. It may not all be in the head either. During the Harvard experiment the scientist tested the hormone levels of participants. They found ones who performed power poses not only felt more confident mentally but their testosterone levels, associated with confidence, rose. Meanwhile cortisol levels, associated with stress, lowered.
More research is needed where the hormone levels are concerned but nevertheless psychologist have documented that when people act confident they eventually believe and become confident. It’s also called the self-fulfilling prophecy and dates back to ancient Greece where the prediction of an outcome changes behavior that leads to the prediction.
The Harvard researcher, Amy Cuddy says in their experiment they had people do so called “power poses”, standing tall in a strong postures like super heroes, for two minutes before going through a job interview. Those who did the power poses maintained their composure, projected more confidence and presented more captivating and enthusiastic speeches as opposed to those who did “low-power poses”.
I know I didn’t always feel confident especially when I first started instructing fitness classes or when I got in front of a camera as a young television news reporter. My voice was weak and it was hard to think about what to do next. When I started watching recordings of myself I could see the apprehensiveness in my whole demeanor.
I started thinking about the reporters I admired and the next time I stood in front of the camera I channeled Barbara Walters, I imagined how she would stand and feel during a broadcast. Soon not only did I exude that same confidence but started to feel the power and become comfortable holding a microphone and hurling questions at the police commissioner, mayor and eventually Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy and his challenger Mitt Romney.
My advice, practice power poses especially when you need a shot of confidence. But do it everyday and take note of the muscles you’re using. Then get to a gym and strengthen those muscles so it becomes natural and you’re always presenting your most powerful self.
Talk to your doctor first before beginning any exercise program.
3. Bent Row: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bent-over_row
5. Self-fulfilling prophecy: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-empathic-misanthrope/201109/fake-it-til-you-make-it
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