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Thread: Body language, the mind and behaviour. page

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    Euphoric's Avatar
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    Body language, the mind and behaviour.

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    So, I came across this TED Talks recently ( Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are - YouTube ), and it speaks of the hormonal changes that come from one's posture and pose have on their mind, hormones, and overall behavior. Sometimes, I think the mindset is a very important part to the Primal Blueprint that often gets overlooked in comparison to the food and exercise, but just my opinion.

    So, what do you all think about this? Does it sound credible?

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    Just watched this - very interesting! I think I'm going to start doing 2 minutes of power posing every day now. Haven't decided yet if it will be the wonder woman or the feet on the desk thing.

    I think it's very credible. Even my husband got interested in it while I was watching and piped in that he thought it made a lot of sense.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by BestBetter; 10-13-2012 at 06:55 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Euphoric View Post
    So, what do you all think about this? Does it sound credible?

    Sure.

    “Actions seems to follow feeling, but really actions and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not. Thus the sovereign voluntary path to cheerfulness, if our cheerfulness be lost, is to sit up cheerfully and to act and speak as if cheerfulness were already there.” ― William James
    Quote by William James: Actions seems to follow feeling, but really act...


    I don't go along with the language that's used in the video. I don't see it as a case of "the body" acting on "the mind". I'm not sure there is any meaningful distinction to be made between mind and body. But I think the phenomenon is real enough. To express it in James's terms, you can regulate the feeling by regulating the action.

    I guess you can "see" the effect in the saliva tests anyway.

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    Oh wow. That sounds amazing. I think you're right that it doesn't "sound credible", but it sounds like she's got some good experimental evidence to back it up.

    What the heck, it's an easy enough thing to try out yourself with no real potential negatives. 2 minutes of private power posing... I can do that!

    Some things that I'm curious about:

    1. She says that when people are put in a position of power, their testerone increases and their cortisol drops pretty rapidly. I'm curious about this, because it seems like any time I've been put in "power" (i.e. leading a project at work) - I do not feel my stress decrease. It tends to INCREASE with responsibility (more to deliver, having to make sure everyone else knows what they're doing, dealing with interpersonal conflicts among team members).

    I wonder though if this is because running a project is not really the same as being in power? It's more about responsibility, with very little real power (I can't fire people, or even kick them off the project, the most I can do is complain to my boss, but even that's not a great solution). So lots of responsibility with very little power, which probably is a good recipe for increased stress....


    2. I was surprised to hear that high-power is associated with increased gambling. I was under the impression that the largest demographic of people that play the lottery is low-income (low-power) people. I'm not sure what to make of this.


    3. Oh no. I was surprised to see neck-touching is not JUST low-power, but EXTREMELY low power. I tend to have alot of neck pain, and have been rubbing/massaging my neck a lot in meetings, to try to alleviate the pain. I wonder how much feeds on itself (i.e. if low-power situations increase cortisol, one feels more stress with the extra cortisol, the stress causes increased muscle tension and neck pain, leads to massaging neck, leads to less power... etc.)

    I guess I'm not going to be doing THAT anymore.

    Anyway, very interesting. Thank you for sharing (I forwarded to my sis, who is job hunting.)

    Thanks!


    ------

    Edit to add:

    4. Any ideas (other than poses) on how people without a lot of power in their lives can engage in more "powerful" experiences, specifically as a way to help decrease cortisol?
    Last edited by jendoe; 10-14-2012 at 12:21 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jendoe View Post

    Some things that I'm curious about:

    1. She says that when people are put in a position of power, their testerone increases and their cortisol drops pretty rapidly. I'm curious about this, because it seems like any time I've been put in "power" (i.e. leading a project at work) - I do not feel my stress decrease. It tends to INCREASE with responsibility (more to deliver, having to make sure everyone else knows what they're doing, dealing with interpersonal conflicts among team members).

    I wonder though if this is because running a project is not really the same as being in power? It's more about responsibility, with very little real power (I can't fire people, or even kick them off the project, the most I can do is complain to my boss, but even that's not a great solution). So lots of responsibility with very little power.
    Cuddy keeps mentioning 'alpha male' when she talks about the high testosteron/low cortisol thing, which I think is a different thing from having extra responsibility without the correlating power, as you mentioned. In fact, I think that anytime there is a lot of responsibilty with very little power, it guarantees that the person is going to stress out, it's kind of an impossible situation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jendoe View Post
    3. Oh no. I was surprised to see neck-touching is not JUST low-power, but EXTREMELY low power. I tend to have alot of neck pain, and have been rubbing/massaging my neck a lot in meetings, to try to alleviate the pain. I wonder how much feeds on itself (i.e. if low-power situations increase cortisol, one feels more stress with the extra cortisol, the stress causes increased muscle tension and neck pain, leads to massaging neck, leads to less power... etc.)

    I guess I'm not going to be doing THAT anymore.
    Again, I think what's been pointed to is real enough but I'd demur as to the language used. Everything comes packed in a kind of soundbite phrase -- "Low Power" is another example.

    The truth at bottom is that certain postures are expressive of certain attitudes of mind. These come and go for all people, and they express more complex matters than simply "power", although that can be part of it. And seeing what those attitudes are isn't rocket science, so long as you actually notice them and think about it. We do this unconsciously without reasoning it out all the time, anyway. How else do know when someone is unhappy, angry, etc.? Similarly, we adopt these postures unconsciously, but the reasons for them are obvious enough once you start to think about it.

    If you're putting your hand or arm near your face, the unconscious wish is going to be something like hiding your face. Often it's partially across the mouth. Is the person hiding their mouth, because they're nervous to use it -- to express an opinion? In the extreme it might even express the thought that you need to ward off a blow.

    There's a degree of sheltering or hiding going on. If I touch my face or neck for some other reason -- such as neck pain -- then it's not done in quite the same way and isn't for the same reason.

    You can see this kind of thing when the presenter talks of people "making themselves smaller". That's a kind of retreat, isn't it? Like a tortoise going into its shell.

    As for the neck pain -- if you've got neck pain, it's down to your postural habits. That can have a connection with "mental" attitudes, but it can just be stuff like bad furniture. The simplest way to relieve it -- and to train your system to adopt a more natural, hence more open and therefore less painful, organization -- is to lie on the floor with your head on 2 to 3 paperback books and your knees drawn up for 20 minutes every day.



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    BestBetter -> It is interesting, isn't it? Glad it helped.

    Lewis -> I suppose I can see that. It's not particularly anything new, more like hacking, it seems. And thanks for the video, I'll have to look into it. My posture is terrible.

    jendoe -> I wasn't saying it doesn't sound credible, I just like other's opinions before I really start to think about it.

    1. I suppose, being in a position of power, doesn't technically make you an "alpha," though. It would depend on how the person gets things done, perhaps?

    2. I don't think power was meant to imply wealth from Amy, more so as it's supposed to be more of a mental state.

    3. Interesting... Do you have the pain outside of the meetings? If not, that could be what it is (in the parentheses). Of course, it's only theory.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Euphoric View Post
    2. I don't think power was meant to imply wealth from Amy, more so as it's supposed to be more of a mental state.
    I think it would be a mistake to confuse "power" and "wealth" just because, in some societies, wealth can confer power.

    Wealth would mean nothing in a society where law cannot be enforced and a stronger or braver man could just take it away. Wealth would be beside the point where no-one owned much in the way of moveable goods.

    Power sensibly speaking would mean something more like whose say goes.

    I think the presenter in that video frames everything in terms of power. (I think that's reductive and not always useful, but that's just my opinion.) However, when "power" ceases to fit the situation she describes, she shows some slides as a joke and tries to change the definition of "power". So now "power" in her special (Humpty-Dumpty) sense of the word means something more like "self-confidence".

    But get this. People laughed at those slides of interviewees with their feet on the desk and so on, but who's the joke really on? I suggest it's on her for trying to force everything in the box "power" in the first place.

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    I would have to rewatch the video, but I'll take your word on it for now. I suppose "power" has been turned into a catch-all, but I suppose that doesn't quite change the effect it has. I'll just stick to consider it as hacking for now, a quick way to build up a different mood.

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    Hey! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to ignore the responses here - life has been throwing alot at me the last few weeks (some great, some not so much) - thanks for the responses!

    re: the neck pain, it's better now (yay). Lewis - you're right on that alot of it is postural. I've been battling neck/back issues for the last couple of years due to crappy posture... still working on it. I've done a tiny bit of feldenkrais (forgive the spelling!) and regular chiropractice. I've starting doing a little pilates which has been hugely helpful for the back ("the abs are the front of the back!") - but I slacked a little when I re-started primal (due to carb flu!) and I'm paying for it, and getting started back up.

    What you say about reading these types of actions unconsciously makes alot of sense, of course. Though I guess there's always room for misinterpretation. I did the poses for a day or two then forgot (ack) - but I'm feeling a tiny bit more powerful just from all the stuff that's been happening here, it's been like a torrent - whereas previously my days were rather slow, boring, and just plain dull.

    Oh, and power in re: to people in control. I think it does make sense at a certain level. I'm in a big company, and I've noticed that the higher up people are, the more other people bend over backwards to please them, guess what they want, and scramble to make it happen. If an executive-director type even hints at a problem with something, a whole team of people under him goes into panic-overdrive to fix it, which usually involves pushing around the people under them to "go go go", even when they don't know what they need to go do ;-)

    Part of me thinks there must be SOME sort of stress associated with a high level position like that, but gosh, I bet it's a nice boost to barely wiggle a finger and have a hundred people go nuts trying to make you happy :P !

    Thanks!

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