When I was eleven years old I idolized Wonder Woman. She wore bulletproof golden cuffs and a jeweled tiara that doubled as a boomerang. And, she kicked ass in a ridiculously fabulous red, white and blue one-piece. What’s not to love? The heroine of my youth – with her iconic hands-on-hips stance – was a model of confident girl-power.
In a recent TED talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy just confirmed that WW was on to something. It turns out that striking that power pose can change the way your life unfolds.
Every day we are judged by our non-verbal expressions, even more so than the content of our communication (what we say). The way we sit and stand, the sense we convey with our posture, tips the scales to affect import outcomes like whether people want to date us, hire us, or mess with us.
People know better than to mess with WW – there is this aura of confidence about her. It could help to have that ourselves and not just when we are feeling best, but always. But really, pose like WW? Well, it turns out, there’s power in pretending.
Body language has a powerful impact on how we perceive ourselves. Cuddy says that doing a two minute power pose – à la WW – lowers your levels of stress hormone cortisol and increases your vitality hormone testosterone, configuring your brain to be calm and optimistic. In this state of mind your authentic, passionate, and confident self shines – leading to happy and successful life outcomes.
But my favorite part of Cuddy’s talk came when she shared the story of a traumatic brain injury she suffered when she was younger. Cuddy is someone who identified herself as intelligent, but when the accident caused her IQ to drop significantly, she had a crisis of confidence. She still went to an Ivy League school, but she felt like a smarty-pants imposter. When she told her adviser she wanted to quit, she was told to stay. Her adviser’s advice? Fake it. Pretend that she does belong. That she's exactly where she needs to be. To fake it again and again until she believed it herself, until she believed in herself.
So she did. Now look at her.