Use Body Language to Chase Fear Away
Episode #7 of the course 10 Strategies to Overcome Your Everyday Fears by Frank McKinley
Welcome to Lesson 7!
In this lesson, we’ll look at how your body language affects your courage.
Your body is a system of integrated parts. Your mind affects your body, and your body affects your mind. If your thoughts aren’t motivating enough, your body can help!
When I was young, I was bullied.
I was an easy target. I hung my head down and looked at the ground a lot. I didn’t speak much, and if I did, I mumbled. I didn’t make eye contact, for fear someone would laugh or stare at me.
When I was with friends, I held my head high. I spoke fast and clear, and gestured freely. I held my back straight and looked people in the eye. I felt free to be me, and it felt good.
What made the difference? Was it my body language, or the way I felt about myself?
I’m not sure which came first, but I can tell you this. On one of my walks, I came across an angry dog. He came running at me, like he was out for blood. Not knowing what else to do, I stood tall, spread my legs shoulder-width apart, and didn’t move. I looked the dog in the eye—and he ran back to where he came from.
I had no idea whether that dog would bite me. Body language was the only weapon I had.
Fortunately, it worked!
Your Body Language Communicates without Words
When I gave my first speech at Dale Carnegie, I stood tall. I spoke with enthusiasm.
The atmosphere was electric!
Boring speakers look at their notes. Their voices are monotone. Their hands turn pages on the lectern. That body language lulls you to sleep.
Amy Cuddy is famous for her 2012 Ted talk on Power Posing. Here’s how it works. A power pose looks like:
• Holding up your arms to form a V, as athletes do when they win.
• Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips, like Wonder Woman.
• Sitting with your legs propped up on your desk and your hands clasped behind your head.
After power posing for 2 minutes, 86% of participants wanted to gamble when asked. Saliva samples showed an 8% increase in testosterone and a 25% decrease in cortisol, the hormone that causes stress.
Your body really does talk to your brain!
Do This Before Your Next Challenge
The next time you give a speech or make an important presentation, take two minutes to power pose.
If you feel self-conscious about power posing in public, do it while you’re in the bathroom. No one will see you, and you’ll feel ready to take on that tough assignment!
Here are a few benefits of power posing:
• You’ll practice good posture, which makes you appear more confident to others.
• The increased testosterone will give you a boost when you feel afraid the first few seconds of your presentation.
• You don’t have to learn anything but how to pose. You always have your body with you—no extra equipment is needed!
Add positive, encouraging self-talk to power posing and you’ll get a double shot of confidence.
Your fear may never go away altogether. That’s okay! Fear feels the same as excitement—so why not treat it that way? Stand up to fear with strong, confident body language and you’ll press through it, no matter how big it seems.
In our next lesson, we’ll learn the value of laughing in the face of fear. See you there!
Ted Talk: Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are by Amy Cuddy
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