Before you read any further, I have a small exercise for you. Force yourself to smile for a few seconds. Do that now. Now ask yourself – how did you feel? The most likely answer would be – Happy.
Not many people are aware about this fact that our gestures, our body movements and our way of expression affect our emotions, exactly the way opposite happens when emotions affect our body language. For example, if you are introvert or being afraid in front of other person, or you are submissive, your body language will look something like the person on the right side in the picture below.
If you are being able to express yourself and feel comfortable while dominating the other person, then you will look like the one on the left.
Of course, this is the basic example depicting how you unconsciously express your traits through your body language. Well, that’s the truth. One needs to accept that. However, the good news is that you can alter your behavior, your own thoughts by forcing yourself to follow certain gestures. This is not as easy as it sounds and requires a lot of practice. But first of all, we need to understand how this works.
Psychologists suggest that our behavior, our actions are mostly affected by who we think we really are. It is our perception about ourselves that drives us. Where does this perception come from? It comes from our actions. Which means it works in a circle. What we think about us drives our actions, which in turn drive our perceptions about ourselves. When we were kids, most of these things came in to us through the habits that we developed and also from what other people had said about us. This makes us believe that we are certain kind of people and we get in to a shell, where we define ourselves with an identity and relate ourselves to that identity at all times. As we grow up we start relating ourselves to our profession. For example, you will see the difference in the body language of academicians and the dancers. This is because they perceive themselves in different ways. All our thoughts and actions are the results of this perception.
Now that we have identified the cause we can work on the solution part. The solution is to work exactly in the opposite manner. That means we need to force ourselves to do certain gestures in order to feel different. Let’s say you feel shy and afraid in front of people you haven’t met before. But when you make the gestures like the person in the left in the above picture, you are more likely to feel being dominant. Even if it initially makes you uncomfortable, you are going to enjoy that soon.
A study showed that the athletes always open up their arms as shown in the picture below, after winning the game. This was due to the fact that they subconsciously wanted to express their dominance.
This is understandable as they feel better about themselves after winning. A fascinating finding however is that a blind athlete who has never seen how people react after winning a game, shows the similar gestures after winning a game. This means that it is a natural human tendency to express their strength in form of body language. The opposite is also true. If you stretch your arms like this after running alone, you get the feeling of being strong.
I hope that the message was clear. If you can work on your body language you can become the kind of person that you want to. As mentioned earlier, it requires a lot of practice and it can make you uncomfortable at times. But once you are able to do this, it’s going to be a nice journey from then onwards.