The way we stand, sit, and walk influences how people may see and judge us. We all know that by changing our posture, we can change our emotions and thoughts. Sitting in a curled up or regressed way helps promote feelings of being small, inadequate and being unimportant. Walking with our arms swinging, sitting in a spread out position or running with our arms out wide promotes feelings of power and confidence.
I learned about body language through studying NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). Our bodies have a wide repertoire of ways to communicate. By changing or modifying gestures, skin tones, micro-muscle movements we can convince others and ourselves that we are feeling happy or sad, powerful or weak. Our nonverbal communication often speaks louder than our verbal communication. When someone walks into a room that is what we all see and focus on first. When we first speak to someone we are watching eye movements, breathing patterns and we are studying their posture.
This is important to me as an Art Therapist. My clients come to me because they want change. Change can’t happen if our body keeps repeating the same body postures and micro-muscle movements that lock us into our patterns of depressive thinking, angry emotions or fear. If we change our postures, we can change our thinking and feeling. If one feels safe and confident, one has to hold themselves in a body posture that convinces them that they are in fact safe and confident. Looking and feeling powerful does help give you an inner belief that you are powerful. We can change our body to give others messages, but most importantly we can change our body to give ourselves new messages.
In a group of people we are attracted to others who have rhythms and body movements that we find comforting, stimulating or pleasant. We can do the same thing for ourselves. I love being in my body when I am running. I love watching strong runners cross the finish line with their arms spread wide. I love feeling the strong muscles and strength. It gives me the message that I am healthy and in shape. If there is something you want to change about yourself, mimicking the body movements of a person who acts in the way you want to, helps convince yourself that you can be like that person.
Amy Cuddy in this Ted Talk, brilliantly explains how your body language shapes who you are.
Try this Art Therapy Exercise for changing Body Patterns.
First, take some time to calm your mind. Do some deep breathing. Now think of a pattern in your life you would like to change. It could be a fear, a way of responding or a thought you have about yourself. Take a few minutes to write or draw this. Now notice your body. How are you sitting? How are you holding yourself? Note what your body posture is when you are focusing on this thought or emotion that you would like to alter.-->
Now think of someone who you believe does not have this problem or issue. Take some time to stand and walk around the room with the belief that this issue or problem is no longer with you. How are you standing or walking? What is different? Are you looser, more fluid, standing taller? Now draw this image of yourself. Remind yourself to walk or stand in this position often so you can internalize it.