How to Use Power Posing to Build Confidence

July 10, 2015

We are incredibly powerful beings, but we often frighten ourselves well beyond the point of safety, all the way to full-blown submission. It’s in this way we’re not afraid to die, we’re afraid to live.

To be fully alive is to cultivate your inner power and go for your dreams without fear of its imminent arrival. We battle with this paradox constantly, do we not? We want that dream job, that relationship, a gig, that perfect opportunity that will unlock all others and unleash our innermost passion… And when we get it we convince ourselves we’re inadequate or we’re not ready. Worse yet, we’re often too busy or too blinded to even notice the manifestation at all.

So, what if we were to cultivate power on command? Below are a handful of effective tools to realize your immediate inner power, even when you don’t believe it’s actually there. Just as we can frighten ourselves into submission, we can immediately “trick” ourselves into feeling powerful until it becomes hardwiring. The mind is a powerful thing, but don’t let it dominate you; rather, learn to be its master.

Power Posing
The first tool for manifesting immediate power is inspired by the findings of a psychology experiment conducted by Harvard Business School professors, Amy J. C. Cuddy, Caroline A. Wilmuth, and Dana R. Carney, in 2012. Their research, found here and here, concludes that power posing before a major social event or challenge, such as a job interview, greatly impacts the hormonal balance of the brain and improves one’s indicators of confidence, calm and success. The researchers’ hypothesis was, “Our minds change our bodies, but can our bodies change our minds?”

By assuming an expansive body posture, a person may be physiologically and psychologically “tricked” into behaving more confident and assured in less-than situations. Throughout the Animal Kingdom physical indicators of power and dominance are universally expressed as expansive, big and stretched-out postures. In her 2012 TED Talk Cuddy asserts, “It’s all about opening up” — chin lifted, puffed up chest and the like. So, this means posting up like Mighty Mouse in the restroom for at least 30 seconds before entering that huge board meeting on Monday will greatly increase your chances of success. It’s not hocus-pocus, but the immediate and enduring effects will feel like magic!

Not convinced? Consider the practice of asana, or yoga postures, which are often very expansive; even poses in which very little effort is needed to assume the shape. Commonly reported benefits of a regular asana practice include increased confidence and decreased anxiety, emotional results of hormonal balances of testosterone and cortisol, respectively. These asanas are power poses of the same quality to which Cuddy et al referred and researched with astounding results! Once again, modern science merely confirms benefits that an ancient technology has been effectively cultivating for millennia.

For added benefit or as an alternative, especially in wide-open spaces in which you don’t want to puff up like Mighty Mouse or lunge into a Warrior II, mantras are extremely useful and powerful. Just like there are different strokes for different folks, there are also many varieties of mantras: Sanskrit, English, long, short, complex or simple.

Opposites Mantra
Strive for empowerment by focusing not on the negative, but on its exact opposite. So often I’ve heard myself and others say, “Think about what you can relinquish from your life in order to make space for something else more positive.” Sure, clearing out the clutter is critical for welcoming anything new, but it also makes us fixate on the negatives. Over time these negatives may manifest more aggressively as suppression or aversion; should’s, can’t’s and don’t’s begin to fester! Although our initial intention is good, we may manifest accidental tension simultaneously.

Keep it simple and skip straight to focusing on the positives; you’ll eradicate the possibility of creating any tension. The mantra formula is simply the opposite of what you don’t want. Don’t want to live in fear? Meditate on trust. Repeat the word that you’ve identified as opposite over and over and over; eventually it will manifest and the brain will be retrained to think in positives rather than negatives.

“The universe has my back” Mantra
Recall those days when you feel that things are simply flowing and you’re in the most curiously exhilarating rhythm with the world around you? All the lights were green, you won a contest on the radio and serendipitously met the owner of a company to which you’re planning to apply. Coincidence or divine energy of the universe?

This mantra gets me through sticky spots, time and time again. Among my greatest challenges in life is my tendency to live in fear, which fundamentally stems from a lack of trust. I have arrived at the conclusion that this is all the trust and truth I need to realize my incredible inner power: the universe has my back. And it has yours too.

We will never feel powerful if we’re constantly assuming that the order of the universe is out to get us, or at the very least disconnected from our endeavors. We will feel powerful if we put our trust into the energetic pulse of the universe and become assured that we’re being supported in our ambitions.

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” – Paolo Coehlo, The Alchemist

Cuddy et al describe the universal characteristics of powerful people as optimistic, assertive, abstract-thinkers and risk-takers. The mind is a powerful thing and it can be trained to inherently assume these qualities through power posing and varieties of mantra. In these tricks and practices we become powerful over ourselves– our own greatest challenge. Now get in that toilet stall for power posing before your big meeting and let your innate awesome power emanate!

Related: On Not Letting Fear Get In Your Way

5 Inner Powers to Take Charge of Your Life

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Photo: billie_cap via Instagram

Erin Nichole Mooney is a practitioner of all things freelance and flowing. She is a yoga teacher (RYT-200), a writer and artist living in Washington, D.C. Her passions are within the realms of health, movement and energy; her spirit is a youthfully inquisitive and active one. Follow Erin Nichole on Instagram @erin_sees.


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