Most women in a patriarchal society have a difficult time accepting that they are indeed more powerful than they’ve allowed themselves to believe and that mastering personal power is a conscious choice. We have been conditioned since birth to do many things very well, but few of us are terribly challenged by society’s expectations. But the problem of mastering your power is not limited exclusively to women and both genders have equal opportunity to educate themselves with the latest research and begin to explore the full capacity of their potential.
Self-help literature has cited examples and techniques for decades but it’s only been in the last 25 years, with the explosion of brain science and the study of brain neuroplasticity, that there is measurable evidence that we really are in control of our own destinies. Ann Cuddy’s remarkable research at Harvard, presented to the world thru a wildly popular TedTalk Psychology of Power , began with the question “Can you fake it till you make it?” Her research indicates that power is not moderated by gender and that hormones – and thus enthusiasm, confidence, lack of awkwardness, and physical health – can change with body postures. You can actually become more powerful through physiological changes in your body simply by power posing!!!
I know we all tend to be a bit lazy but this information is so incredibly radical that we really can’t afford to ignore it. Body language has previously been looked at with regard to what was being communicated, but Ms. Cuddy’s research looks at the psychology of power from the point of view of nonverbal behavior. So where we are in the pecking order informs our hormones!! Those at the top have higher testosterone and lower cortisol – more power and less stress! And the way we demonstrate power in our culture with expansive movements that cover space with expressions of joy and pride are shown to be hardwired in us being the same in both sighted and non-sighted individuals!
So we have been given a road map here for becoming your true self, the self you want to be. But instead of relying on your personal strength and trusting your instincts which can be really tough, you can become more powerful through physiological changes in your body. It then becomes self-reinforcing.
Full details about Ann’s TedTalk can be found here: http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are?language=en and it’s also important to note that 80% of all yoga asana are power poses while all asana are self-nurturing.
So she asserts that
- our bodies change our minds
- our minds change our behavior
- our behavior changes outcomes
So this leads me to ponder why any of us would not want to be an influencer. It brings us full circle to the culture in which we live. Not everyone can be the alpha and since being the top of the heap changes you physiologically, reinforcement comes organically. We are all leading the life we want to be leading and if not, what is it you believe about yourself that’s getting in your way? Why are you negotiating your power and with whom? Being OK with the way things are right now (as some Buddhists might assert) doesn’t mean you can’t harness more power to be of service in more positive ways. Don’t kid yourself about what you want in order to protect a social order designed by others. If life was perfect here, we wouldn’t need you to step up but…. that’s not the case now, is it.