Our bodies can be powerful indicators of how we are feeling. We may notice thoughts that go with a particular way we sit or stand, or places in our body that hold a particular sensation when we have certain feelings (like a clenched belly when we are nervous or afraid).
Our body posture also lets others know how we are feeling, even if the clues are subtle. I’m sure you have noticed strangers walk down the street and had thoughts like:
- She looks like she’s having a great day.
- He looks like he’s depressed.
Your body is a representation of your innermost mindset. In one way or another, your body expresses your thoughts, feelings and mood. If you catch yourself in a hunched position with your head hanging down, begin to notice your thoughts. What thoughts have created this body response?
The good news is – you can change your posture and your external expression in the world by embodying new thoughts, and you can change your thoughts and how you are feeling by changing your body.
Even though it may feel inauthentic at first, acting-as-if can actually change your bio-chemistry. It is more difficult to feel dispirited when your shoulders are back, your head is held high and you have a smile on your face.
There’s a Charlie Brown cartoon that goes like this:
Charlie is standing with a slumped body posture and he says to Lucy, “This is my depressed stance. When you’re depressed, it makes a lot of difference how you stand.
He straightens up and says “…the worst thing you can do is straighten up and hold your head high because then you’ll start to feel better.”
Charlie goes back to his slumped posture and says: “If you’re going to get any joy out of being depressed, you’ve got to stand like this.”
Harvard Professor, Amy Cuddy, has done extensive research on the links between how we hold our bodies and how we feel … and further how that impacts our presence and relationships with others. Her famous TED Talk on ‘Power Poses’ is compelling and informative.
With Body-Centered Coaching, we work with our clients to support them in becoming more aware of their body, its messages, and how they can utilize the resources within it. We cannot change what we are unaware of, and for many of our clients, body-centered coaching opens up a whole new territory of awareness and possibility.
- Pay attention today to how you hold your body when you are in different moods / states of mind … what do you notice?
- Try on a ‘power pose’ and hold it for two minutes …. Does it shift how you feel?
- Invite one of your clients this week to try on different poses … pay attention to what shifts in the coaching conversation. What do you notice?