Your body can effectively influence your psychology.
But I thought only the brain influences the body and tells it what to do!
But it works both ways.
I know this sounds crazy, but hear me out.
We’ve all been taught to use our brains to control our bodies.
Like Aubrey Drake Graham says, the power of the mind is no joke.
This means that you can use your mind to control your body and do great things by focusing your willpower, creating habits, and getting mentally tough.
This is the first, and very critical, part of the equation…
What if I told you there’s an overlooked aspect, one where the body sends signals back to the brain?
This stuff I speak of is related to a newer field of psychology, called Embodied Cognition, and it’s how the body and our body language can have an influence on the subconscious parts of the brain.
According to developmental psychologist Esther Thelen:
To say that cognition is embodied means that it arises from bodily interactions with the world. From this point of view, cognition depends on the kinds of experiences that come from having a body with particular perceptual and motor capacities that are inseparably linked and that together form the matrix within which memory, emotion, language, and all other aspects of life are meshed.
Do something for me.
Clear your head, and smile.
Just smile for about ten seconds (but don’t count).
What did you feel?
You felt happier, didn’t you?
You may even have thought of something funny, or thought good thoughts.
Everything you do with your body sends signals to your brain.
Now, when I talk about doing things with your body, I mean things like posture, the way you walk, how you position yourself, the way you speak, your expressions, and generally the way you carry yourself.
It also has to do with your build, the way you style your hair and facial hair, and your overall demeanor.
What I’m saying is that we can use our bodies to create a perception.
What kind of perception?
Well that’s up to you.
You can project weakness and passivity, making it look like you are unsure of yourself, incompetent, and a buffoon.
You can project confidence, power, a gentle strength, and dominance, and in-turn make this perception your reality by solidifying this behavior in your brain.
Have you ever met somebody that just oozes confidence?
You probably know a person like this.
These charismatic individuals are on point in every interaction, they’re usually in control, they’re calm and cool, they speak loud enough, clearly and firmly (and laugh and smile at appropriate times), they walk with a certain swagger, and they stand tall and proud.
The have “it”, that x-factor that draws you to them like a magnet.
We all would like to be more like this, but we just don’t know how to get there, or if we even can!
But there is good news.
Actually this is great news.
We can all be like this person.
This is a learned skill.
Practicing this skill of thinking, and then taking control of our bodies creates a feedback loop that gets the ball rolling and helps your brain and body feed of each other to build insane amounts of confidence (more on this below).
The funny thing is, once you start thinking, and then “acting” like anything, you will become it after long enough.
We’re all actors, and how you act in public is just the role you play
It’s not rocket science, it’s just pure human nature.
Even if you don’t have a natural confidence, you can learn to think and then create the person you want to be and change your life for the better, just by using your brain, and your body, to get there!
Note: this doesn’t mean acting like an arrogant prick. There is a huge difference between confidence and arrogance. Arrogance is masked weakness stemming from insecurity. Confidence is a true belief in yourself coming from a solid base of strength and experience. We want to be confident.
There is a catch to all this.
And it’s this:
It takes a considerable amount of work, and a ton of discipline to change something this big.
Much like gaining muscle or losing fat, it doesn’t happen overnight.
You’ve probably been unaware of your body and your body language for 20+ years now, it will take some time to kick out the bad habits and start to turn them into some positive ones, but in the long run it will pay off.
You just have to start!
You have to put yourself in these situations to get the ball rolling and get better.
This is one of those 10,000 hour deals, you need to put in the hours to reap the benefits.
Let’s Go Further
You may know this old saying:
“As you think, so shall you become.”
– Bruce Lee
This is but the first part of the equation, as mentioned earlier, and here we’re using the mind to influence behavior.
I’m going to amend this, and add a second part to the equation:
“Think, then act, and you shall become!”
– Sonny Decker
Check it out:
Brain -> body -> brain (the basic feedback loop)
Think -> do -> become
If you have the time, you absolutely need to watch the video below.
I used to do bar security (“bouncer”).
In this line of work, signals, and in turn perception, is everything.
It’s why bouncers are mostly big, intimidating guys (they’re selected).
I wasn’t the biggest guy, but I was big enough, and I rarely got tested.
When I did, it was with somebody too drunk with liquid courage to know they were going to get their ass kicked.
Why wasn’t I tested more?
Because I was signalling.
For starters, I gave out a few signals that I wasn’t playing around.
The first one was being bigger.
In the animal kingdom, size matters.
The biggest apes are the most dominant.
they’re the alphas.
Humans are just smarter(?) apes.
This size helped create a perception, to myself, and to others, that I belonged there and I was capable of doing the job.
Second was posture and body language.
I stood with military posture, and rarely smiled.
Most of the time I crossed my arms (which shows that you’re cold and closed off or indifferent).
Thirdly, I always approached any situation, from ejecting drunks, to breaking up fights, to helping someone find their missing wallet, with deliberation, zero hesitation, and using a confident, firm tone and I always took control of the situation.
Even if I was going into a situation with very little information (such as breaking up a fight), I went into the situation cool, calm, collected, and confident, even though I may have been far from that on the inside.
This all helped me think, do, and then become by solidifying:
a. how I perceived myself, helping me build confidence.
b. how others perceived me, and this perception helped define my role in this job (and adapt to the demands).
Key Takeaways and Action
These lessons are completely useless if we don’t implement them.
So how do we implement them?
Create who you want to be, or others will!
This is a big one when it comes to our perceptions of ourselves and how others perceive us.
Incubus said that if you don’t make you, you’ll be made somehow.
We want to create the perception that we want others to see, not the other way around.
Like it or not, you are a brand, and you can decide how others view your brand, or you can let others define your brand.
Everyone is a brand. What you think about when you hear their name, or see them, is how you perceive their brand. This perception is created by them (consciously or subconsciously) based on how they interact with you and with the world.
Project power and confidence at all times (and use power posing!)
First off, have a great body.
No one will take you seriously if you first don’t take yourself seriously.
Gain some muscle and/or lose some fat.
When I was skinny no one took me seriously.
When I gained some muscle they started to.
Having a great body just does wonders for your confidence, you feel in control, and it’s the first step to having your sh*t together.
Next, actually project confidence and poise, while using powerful positions and avoiding weak positions whenever possible.
- Stand to meet someone if you’re seated (and shake their hand firmly), and never have a conversation with someone while they’re standing and you’re seated, this is a very weak position to be in
- Control your expressions (stoicism), even in really good or really bad situations
- Don’t laugh or smile needlessly. If something isn’t funny, it isn’t funny.
- Walk tall (yes, work on the way you walk) hint: runway models get it right.
- Stand tall (fix your posture) hint: stand at attention (military posture).
- Talk firmly, speak up, and talk clearly (never mumble). It’s better to talk too loud than too quiet.
- Always maintain eye contact (until you can see the color of their eyes). Meeting someone’s gaze is a sign of confidence.
- Don’t be afraid of silence (you don’t have to make awkward small talk or use filler conversation). I know we don’t like silences, but small talk is possibly even more awkward and useless.
- Pause and think thoroughly before answering questions. I learned this from a law professor of mine. Most people try to answer as fast as possible for some reason. Always take a deep breath and find the right words before answering important or complex questions.
Take the lead.
A lot of people look to be lead.
Either by incompetence, fear, laziness, being unsure, or anything else, a lot of people look to others to solve problems.
A lot of people are stuck with the Bystander Effect (also called Genovese Syndrome) mindset, and a lot of people have the “someone else will do it” mentality.
Take responsibility, don’t diffuse it.
Take the lead and be proactive.
Become the problem solver.
Kill the bystander mindset.
Not only will this make you a complete badass and skyrocket your confidence, but it can lead to many other good things (promotions, becoming the go-to-guy, entrepreneurship etc.).
Now I’m not saying indulge and obsess over every little problem you or anyone else ever has, but use your discretion and tackle the problems or situations worth going after.
Approach every situation with deliberation and without hesitation.
Hesitation makes you look weak. It shows you second guess yourself. Beg for forgiveness if it doesn’t work out, but don’t hesitate. Note: this doesn’t mean not thinking things through. Take time to think about things, but only as much as needed.
Keep promises, do what you say you’re going to do, and be honest.
Have integrity, and do what you say you’re going to do. No one likes a flake, and no one respects a liar. Once you get perceived as someone without integrity, it can be an impossible hole to climb out of.
If you think, and then do the above things, you’ll start to become.
Your confidence will start to skyrocket.
Your attitude will change.
Your body will start to influence your brain, creating positive feedback, until eventually you’ll start to see success in many different areas of life.
kick some ass, take some names, and take care my friends,