I had been an actor for a while so I knew what it was like to actually choose an emotion and really feel it. It stood to reason that if I were feeling really bad, I could "choose" to feel really good instead (or at least "as well"). But one day I came up against my own limitations and I had to reach for another sphere of influence. It has stood me in good stead ever since.
I was at a spiritual gathering, and everyone in this exceptionally large hotel meeting space was moving around, talking and purchasing jewelry and books at the back of the room. I was a melting pot of emotions, wandering around trying to get up the courage to initiate closure with an ex-boyfriend even though I felt righteously that he should be the one to initiate. Someone stopped me and said she wanted to introduce me to some friends. I had to put on my mask of capability.
An older couple was sitting comfortably in the folding chairs, and I was standing beside them - not wanting to sit because I really wanted to be on my way - and putting on my best actor-based confidence attitude. I thought I was doing very well to be so emotionally steady in the midst of a meltdown, when I realized that I had torqued my body into roughly the shape of a pretzel.
I was bent sideways and down, to put a hand on the back of an adjacent chair. One foot was crossed over my other leg and steadied me on the opposite side. I had the opposite hand on my hip, and I was basically twisted. In other words, I looked as twisted and uncomfortable as I felt!
Well, apparently my usual emotional and verbal tools weren't going to help out with this one, so I thought to myself - while maintaining a conversation I don't remember to this day - "What do I do???"
You would be surprised how many moments it took me to convince myself that I could actually straighten up. I felt so obvious! I thought, "Oh crap! If I straighten up, they'll then notice that I've been pretzeled and they'll think I'm weird, and they'll realize that I didn't even know I was pretzeled and now I'm awkward at straightening up..." *sigh* Really??? The mind is so very very good at blame.
It took me about 15 seconds to start, but slowly I straightened up and made myself plant both feet on the ground, a shoulder's width apart as the yoga teachers say. And that is how I realized that by taking a strength stance I could deny - without a word - the voice in the head that says I'm less-than. With practice it has become a habit. To the point where I was in a photo with a collection of fellow employees a few years ago, and the only two people in that photo looking like leaders were the owner of the company, standing with feet planted (you got it) a shoulder's width apart, and me, opposite from him in the photo, also with feet planted; which was ironic, because I was low "man" on the totem pole!
What physical stances or muscle tensions are you adopting? If you start just noticing, you can start thinking about something fascinating and freeing: The many ways you can stand, relax, sit, hold yourself, which reflect the strength and the leader you secretly are.
To work with Lori on crafting your Presentation or Speaking Style, reach out via Support@GoodbyeGoodGirl.com for a consultation about 360° Presentation/Speech Coaching today.
Entrepreneur, Actor, Speaker and Rebellious Game-Changer - that's me. I coach women, helping them recognize, understand and break out of the social "shoulds" to become empowered, powerful and masterful communicators, on stage and off.