How Doing Power Poses Can Help Your Writing Life & Affirmations-366Days#63
Posted March 4, 2016on:
Affirmations-366Days-63: I use my body language to encourage a mood of optimism before sitting down to write.
For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.
Have you ever thought about how changing your body language might improve your mood before you sit down to write?
If you’ve written for some time you’ve probably thought about your posture. There’s lots of biomedical evidence to suggest that sitting at a desk for long periods of time without a break is not healthy. Most writers I know do a lot of sitting. You might have also have thought about how the mood you are in when you sit down to write, can either be one that makes the writing easy or difficult.
Most of the time, you can overcome the ‘not feeling in the mood to write’. I keep a handy quote by author Barbara Sher near my desk: “Moods are very long, projects are very short.”
But what about those days when you are not feeling so confident about your abilities as a writer? What about the days when all your writing gremlins and inner critics have arrived at your house for a pop-up party?
I stumbled across a wonderful Ted Talk, ‘Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are’ by social psychologist Amy Cuddy. Cuddy studies how nonverbal behavior and snap judgments influence people. Her personal story is remarkable as at a young age she suffered a traumatic brain injury from a car accident. In this Ted Talk she shares some of that personal history and how it led her to research on studying movement, and nonverbal cues about power and dominance. She has done a significant amount of research on ‘power poses’ or poses that tend to express confidence. Power poses are ones that universally make our bodies feel good. Using specific postures can affect the testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain and can help us act confident, even when we don’t feel particularly confident. Understanding what will make you more confident is especially helpful for participating in group settings (e.g. classrooms, work environments, etc.).
As a yoga practitioner, I have thought about the importance of posture and body awareness. It is quite easy to see when someone is holding tension in the body or ‘collapsing’ (making one’s self smaller), or ‘propping’ (holding the body with rigid attention). But, her work really helps to make a connection between body awareness and social group dynamics.
I have started to use Cuddy’s suggestions for power poses (usually 2 minute exercises), before I go into meetings, teach classes and do public speaking. I’m not usually particularly stressed before any of those encounters, but occasionally I may be feeling low energy. After I do my 2 minute exercise, I feel refreshed and if I was feeling anxious, I feel much less so.
Cuddy’s work is mostly focused on how individuals can feel more confident within groups. But, I started to think about her work could apply to writing. Can doing power poses change one’s mood before sitting down to write? I think it can. OK, I have a small sample size of one—me! I’ve started to use some of the power poses before I write and they have definitely boosted my mood, making me feel more optimistic. And, what writer doesn’t need more confidence?
Writing gremlins are bound to show up and affect your mood at some point. It is great to have a different way to tackle fear, anxiety, and frustration in the writing process. I encourage you to check out her Ted Talk and play with the power poses before, during and after writing.