How to exude – and build – confidence through body language

How to exude - and build - confidence through body language

The proliferation of courses, books and websites dedicated to body language tells us that many people are aware that how they act physically can have a big impact on them and those around them.

However, how many of us are likely to give our body language any consideration as we go about our daily lives? The chances are it's relatively few, given that we're all busy heading to work, doing the school run or whatever else it is we're preoccupied with.

Yet taking control of body language on an everyday basis can make a real difference to how you are perceived and even how you feel, especially if you're not very confident.

As part of research carried out at Harvard University, Professor Amy Cuddy found that 'high power poses' that involve taking up plenty of space, exposing the chest and expressing dominance result in elevated levels of testosterone, a hormone associated with confidence, and reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol. On the contrary, 'low power poses' which see the arms tucked in, the person looking small and the eyes cast downwards caused reduced testosterone and elevated cortisol.

The results were so striking that even the team was surprised – and it just goes to show that how you present yourself can not only affect how onlookers perceive you, but also how you perceive yourself.

If you regularly feel as though you're lacking in confidence before important situations or just in general, here are some tips on using your body to build it up.

The basics

To convey positive energy, you shouldn't neglect the very basic body language tips. Maintain eye contact and lean slightly forwards when you meet someone, even if it's not for the first time – although take care this doesn't go too far and result in an invasion of personal space.

Maintain eye contact and stand up straight with your shoulders pulled back and away from your ears. Also, keep your hands still, as fidgeting can give the impression that you're anxious.

Even when you're not interacting with anyone, try to maintain that positive stance, as it will relay the message to your brain that you're feeling confident. Walk with your chin up and your chest leading and you'll be amazed at how much brighter you feel, as well as how much more you notice about your surroundings.

Deliberate poses for more confidence

You can also train yourself to take positive stances in the same way that you train your mind to think positively using affirmations – practice makes perfect.

Professor Cuddy recommends adopting a high power pose for two minutes each morning, during which you should breathe in for three counts, hold for one and then breathe out for five counts. She particularly advocates the Wonder Woman pose, even if you don't happen to be a woman (maybe just don't do it near a window).

Stand with your legs wide apart, you head up and your hands on your hips, just like … well, Wonder Woman. Of if you can't picture her, Beyonce. You could also stand with your knuckles on a desk as though you're telling off a room full of naughty children or sit in a chair with your hands laced behind your head and your elbows out.

Doing this should set the tone for the rest of the day and tell your subconscious that you're going to be confident.

Yoga for confidence

You may not know it, but certain yoga poses are designed to boost self-esteem as well as encourage flexibility. They aim to take your body from small and restricted to large and opened-out, which increases positivity.

The sphinx, supported bridge, and warrior one are all suitable for beginners and will open out your chest for increased confidence – just search for them online to learn how to do them.

Palm Tree Pose is another, plus this can be done anywhere when you have a minute. Just put your arms up above your head so they're parallel to each other and rise onto your tiptoes. Breathe and feel your spinal column extend. When you release you should feel taller, which will give you a mental boost.

If you like the effects these give you, it will be well worth joining a yoga group. Good teachers will talk you through basic poses right up to more advanced positions when you're ready, something that will give you a real sense of accomplishment.

In turn, this will give you more confidence – and your body will be sub-consciously picking up how best to stand, which only goes to reinforce the circle.

We're all aware that body language is important in the animal kingdom, with lions and gorillas exuding dominance and mice and hedgehogs appearing frightened and submissive. However, little do we realise that emulating them can have such a huge effect on the way we think and feel.

Why not try some of these tips today, or give one of our psychic life coaches a call to chat about more?

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