Stand Tall in the New Year

As a psychologist, I can say with certainty that it is difficult to change a person’s mood or self-image. These can be chronic, long-lasting, even lifetime struggles. But, changing your behavior is much easier, as it is volitional – you can choose to stand up right now, as you read this sentence. But you cannot choose to be happy as you get to the period at the end of this sentence. It is harder to change the mind than the body – so, take the easier path to change, and adjust your posture.

As this recent article nicely summarizes, I am not alone in this approach – though Dr. Cuddy says it much more eloquently and precisely in her TED talk and book.
Where Cuddy refers to the “Wonder Woman” pose, I myself have often encouraged men with poor social skills and self-image to adopt the “Batman” posture when they walk into a room (or the Batman voice in their head). Acting “as if” is a technique I utilize often with patients. It starts as pretending, but can conclude as a change of self. Studies have shown in the past that smiling, even when you are not happy, can make you feel happy – the brain reads the muscular change, creates hormonal and neurotransmitter change, and ends in mood change. Acting “as if” you are Batman, Wonder Woman, George Clooney or Beyonce can influence the way you stand, and talk, and feel, and succeed!

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