While it’s no secret that exercise releases a fix of dopamine in our brains to instantly make us feel happy, many people don’t realise how many ties our bodies ─ and the chemicals that regulate them ─ have to our brains.
Sometimes overanalysing our mental habits, and working to change our mindsets to feel a certain way, is actually not the most effective approach. In fact, we often underestimate how much power the physical can have over the mental, especially when it comes to our emotions.
The impact our bodies have on feeling more confident is no exception.
Although it’s true that confidence ultimately comes from self-acceptance, it has been scientifically proved time and again that one of the most important factors in determining how we perceive ourselves is our posture.
Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk in 2012 on the significance of body language on confidence shows that assuming a “power pose” actually changes the hormones in our brains ─ after just two minutes ─ to leave us feeling stronger, less stressed, and more confident.
Her research unsurprisingly furthers information we’ve known all along: that your body actually participates in a real feedback cycle with the chemicals in your brain, influencing how they should behave.
On a psychological level, taking a wider stance is also a healthy way to encourage yourself to be comfortable “taking up more space”. People who are typically less sure of themselves or who wish to be unobtrusive and overly considerate bunch themselves up. They hunch over their shoulders or keep their feet close together, afraid to take up more space than necessary.
The very act of being unapologetic when spreading out subliminally hints to our brains that we deserve the space we are taking up. It tells us to feel confident and sure, even if we don’t yet believe it ourselves.
So, next time you find yourself fading into the wallpaper, take care to overcompensate by spreading your legs wide, pushing your shoulders back, and keeping your chin up. The superpowers that accompany such a superhero stance just might surprise you.