Overcome Your Fear by Standing Up, Literally

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Many people talk about overcoming fear in terms of standing up for yourself. Actually standing, is quite literally a great way to overcome fear.   Posture and body position is one of the fastest ways that you can quickly overcome fear.

Experiment in feeling good

Let's do a little experiment. Imagine a time in your life when you felt really, really good. Go back in your mind's eye to that time and place and immerse yourself into that feeling. Really feel it.  As you've experience that feeling of that time when you felt really strong and powerful, I want you to stand like you stood. Feel like you felt, and let your body go where it wants to.

As you're feeling that feeling of being strong and powerful, I want you to notice where your body is in relationship to posture.  how are you standing or sitting? You'll probably notice that you're standing or sitting very straight and very upright.

Imagine winning the championship game, do people lay on the floor and cry when they win. Well maybe tears of joy, but the point is most people are standing with their hands above their head in a victory pose and may even be jumping up and down shouting “We won! We won! We won!”

Now that you are fully into that posture of winning, you are aren't you?  If not, get into it, imagining is only a small part of the process. Physically assume the posture.  

Now,  keeping that same posture I want you to try to feel bad. As you try to feel bad, you'll notice your body will want to change your posture to the posture of feeling bad. It will want to start slumping and curling up.  Don’t let it! Keep that tall, straight, powerful posture and as you do you will find that it's almost impossible to feel bad.

Experiment in feeling bad

So let's try the opposite down just for experiment sake I want you to imagine a time when you felt really defeated and powerless. Go back to that time in your minds eye and really experience the feeling.  As you move into that feeling of defeat, I want you to notice what your body is doing. Notice the desire to slump down, to minimize yourself, to make yourself seem less than you actually are.

You're probably notice that this is the work position that most of the cubicles dwellers assume at work all day long. It's no wonder people are depressed  and hate their job. We live in the posture of depression all day and it makes it almost impossible to feel good. There's numerous studies on the idea that sitting all day is the worst one of the worst things that you can do.

Once your body has assumed that position I want you to try to feel good without changing your posture. You're probably noticed that you can't do it. Iit is very difficult to do while assuming the feeling bad position.

Willpower will fail you

That is why willpower will never work.  We can try by the force of willpower to make ourselves feel good but willpower is not enough.

Now, as you're still feeling bad but I want you to keep the bad feeling but  assume the posture that you had before of feeling powerful and strong. Try to keep feeling bad at the same time. Notice as soon as you change your posture, your feelings start to change automatically and it's next to impossible to feel bad while standing strong and powerful.

Confidence Sun Image

What does the research say?

A researcher named Amy Cuddy did a study on the effects of posture. She had the 42 participants of the study, stand in a variety of poses, that she calls power poses.

Power poses are where the body assumes a position of of openness and expansion.  Some examples include:

  • The chairman of the board pose: You place your hands on the table and lean forward.You lean forward while standing to show that you are engaged and in a position of dominance.

  • The presidential pose: You rest your feet on the table, clasp your hands behind your head, and lean back.  This one is a bit difficult to pull off, especially in a job interview but it can be a powerful pose to assume.

  • The victory pose:  You plant your feet wide apart  and stretch your arms over your head in a V shape.

  • The performer pose: You throw your hands in the air and widen your stance, like you are soaking in the applause during a standing ovation.

  • The leaning back: You rest your arm on the back of your chair or the chair next to you, keep your knees apart, and recline. You can also place your hands behind your head and rest an ankle on the knee.

  • The Wonder Woman pose:  You puff out your chest, place your hands on your hips, and stand with feet hip-width apart. Tilt your chin up as you do this to maximize the effect.

They were to stand in these poses for at least 2 minutes, and then they were subject to a grueling mock job interview.

Another group, the control group, did not stand in these poses and were subject to the same interview.  

So by just assuming a certain position for as little as 2 minutes, people were able to increase their confidence and achievement and reduce their stress.

Here's the video where she explains how that all works.

So what does that mean to you?

If there's a time when you're feeling fearful. A time when you need to do something and you don't feel like doing it. A time when you feel afraid and you want to overcome that feeling, all you really need to do is to change your posture. Assume the position the posture of someone who is strong and powerful. Go back in your mind  to a time when you felt very strong, very powerful and assume the posture.

Stand like that for at least two minutes, assume one of the standing power poses, the victory pose or the Wonder Woman pose.

The key to this is that actions always beat willpower.  You may try as you might to will yourself to feel better and stronger but by doing these simple exercises you can quickly and easily overcome your fear and boost yourself into confidence.  

Willpower is a finite resource.  As soon as you are tired or hungry your willpower will vanish and you will retreat into fear and depression.  

Environment always overcomes feelings. You've just proved it to yourself in the experiment that you did earlier.

Now you have a simple and easy technique to feel strong and powerful anytime you choose.

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