The Surprisingly Powerful Links Between Your Posture and Your Emotional State
It is absolutely impossible to overestimate the power of the human mind. The person who is able to effectively manage their mind, which begins with effectively managing their mental diet — actively controlling what enters the gates of your mind through your senses of perception — will find that they are able to have a much more emphatic impact on their world and those who exist in their periphery.
Before moving forward, it is important to distinguish between the brain (organic matter) and the mind (immaterial force of compact energy — the seat or center of the soul). The brain can be viewed as the world’s most powerful supercomputer — possessing the capacity to easily process four-billion bits of information per second. The human mind should be viewed as the user who determines the program and software that will be run on their personal organic supercomputer. The brain and the mind are inextricably connected and work synergistically to produce your current and future realities.
“Your mind is always eavesdropping on your self-talk.” ~ Jim Kwik
There is so much truth is the adage, “as a man thinks, so is he.” Your thoughts are literally the seeds of your destiny. Your thoughts are ultimately a reflection of your beliefs, which are formed based on your personal philosophy and the paradigms through which you view and manage your life. This is why you can get completely different results from 10 people that experienced the same event.
I am often asked what creates the distinction between the victim and the victor, and my answer is immensely succinct — “perspective.” The victim has developed a proclivity to view life as something that is happening to them, completely surrendering the ability to effectively impact any situation that may be negatively influencing their lives. The victor or winner sees life as something that is responding to them, so when they are not getting the results they want, they make the necessary adjustments to create change. It is really that simple. One person (the victor) operates from a place of personal sovereignty while the other person (the victim) has surrendered their sovereignty and trusts chance to provide consistency in their life.
There is another adage that is accurate in describing the human condition individually and collectively — “perception is a reality.” While countless people have argued against this idea, suggesting that perception does not overrule facts, science has proven that the mind is so powerful that it has the ability to completely overrule the presence of facts to hold its current position based on how it perceives any situation. I have a saying that states, “facts mean absolutely nothing to the conditioned mind.”
Science has proven that the mind cannot distinguish between what is real and what is being imagined; therefore, how one perceives any given situation is paramount to determining how they will interpret and process it. If you decide that life is happening to you, you will relinquish all the tools and assets you have at your disposal to change those things in your life that you are not satisfied with. Like millions of other people in this world, some of you go through life believing that suffering, loneliness, poverty, sickness, and so many other negative life experiences are your lot in life. Because you have surrendered your personal sovereignty, you lack the capacity to create the type paradigm shifts that produce massive change and the awesome results that you so desperately desire.
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I tell my clients at The Visionetics Institute that while pain and disappointment are inevitable, suffering is a choice. When pain, depression, poverty, physical illness, and any other type of negative reality moves from being a temporal event that you overcome to being a part of your permanent reality, you have surrendered your personal sovereignty and placed yourself at the mercy of chance. People who play the game by chance rarely win, and they definitely do not win with any consistency. However, when you decide to become actively involved in “minding” your reality — using your mind to control the path that you take in life, there is literally no limits to what you can accomplish when you set your mind to do so.
Pay very close attention to what I am about to share with you here. The only limits that you have in your life are those you have accepted with your mind. God (The Universe, Life, Energy or however you personally refer to the infinite power and infinite intelligence that has brought this universe into order) will only meet you at the level of your expectations. Your beliefs set the parameters of your performance.
When working with a client, it is my goal to determine the exact outcome (results) they are looking for with remarkable specificity. One of the most common causes of the inability to bring visions and dreams into the realm of reality is because the vision is out of focus, meaning that they fail to generate an image of what they want that is so vivid that they can easily recall it and see it on a consistent basis. For instance, a person that is looking to escape poverty will normally tell me they want to be wealthy, but wealth will mean different things to different people, and the ambiguity associated with that term leaves too many variations for the mind to narrow down what it should be focusing on to produce the desired result.
The mind is immensely powerful and highly effective in producing the results that you communicate you want. The Reticular Activating System (RAS), which is a part of the nervous system that sits at the base of the brain and the top of the spinal column, serves as a filter for information traveling from the conscious mind to the subconscious mind and non-conscious brain. Remember, I told you that the brain is like a supercomputer that has the capacity to process four-billion bits of information per second? Well, 98 percent of that is done by the subconscious mind and non-conscious brain. Think about all of the things that are going on around you at any given time. If you were to attempt to focus on all of that at one time, it would literally drive your crazy. So, using certain variables, the RAS determines those things that are most important to you and filters out the rest based on an organic system of prioritization.
Once you start reading or studying, why don’t you hear that second-hand on the clock just above your head? Wait, you suddenly hear it now, right? That is because I mentioned it and made your conscious mind aware of it, which was communicated to your non-conscious brain which immediately located the sound. Have you ever saw a car, shirt, or outfit that you absolutely had to have? You had never noticed it before, but now that you have determined that you like and want it, suddenly you see it everywhere. The truth is that it has always been there but until it became important to you it was filtered out by the RAS.
At The Visionetics Institute, I use several distinct disciplines that I have mastered to help people use their minds and their bodies to create an optimal environment for success. You must know that a state of mind in which doubt, fear, anger, anxiety, stress, and uncertainty exists cannot be a state of mind that is primed for optimal performance. I use a combination of psycho-cybernetics, psychology, neuro-linguistic programming, neuro-associative conditioning, quantum physics and neurological remapping to help my clients bring their beliefs, thoughts, ideas, rituals, behavior, and even their posture into perfect equilibrium and harmony with their expected outcome.
I will not get into the totality of how these different disciplines work together to help people achieve their goals at this point, but I do want to share with you the power of one discipline (Neuro-associative conditioning) that can help you achieve massive shifts in your emotional state in a matter of seconds.
Basically, neuro-associative conditioning is a discipline that focuses on shifting internal representations associated with certain behaviors to create new behaviors, as well as reestablishing the desired emotional state. When used effectively, NLP can create significant changes in human emotions. The primary premise that guides NLP is the belief that there are two determining factors that guide human behavior — the desire to gain pleasure and the need to avoid pain.
When you are able to associate pleasure with a certain desired behavior, you will naturally begin to model those behaviors until they become habits. Conversely, when you associated pain or displeasure with certain behaviors, you will begin to see behavior that works to avoid the displeasure. The truth is that these neuro-associations determine our representation of reality — directly impacting our behavior. But there is more…
Let’s focus on one specific way that neuro-associative conditioning can work to help you manage your emotional state — the use of your physical posture — a neuro-associative philosophy known as embodied cognition. Everyone knows that being happy has the power to make you smile, but did you know that smiling can actually make you happy. While closely linked with neuro-associative ideology, this particular reality is actually known as embodied cognition, which is a psychological philosophy that suggests that the mind and body run in both directions, meaning that not only can the mind impact the body, but the body can also influence the mind.
Have you ever had a very bad day or week, and you share it with someone you know, and they tell you to keep your head up? Well, that is a very old phrase that has proven to be powerful over time. While the phrase is viewed in more of a symbolic context today, it was once literal. See, while people were not able to explain it, they understood that it was virtually impossible to hold your head up and feel sad, depressed or unhappy. One could not take a posture of confidence and feel helpless. When you hold your head up and square your shoulders, you begin to feel almost invincible.
Basically, your mind associates certain physical positions and postures with certain emotions and the body instinctively takes on these postures based on a perceived reality by the brain. So, if the brain perceives a loss of some kind, a feeling of sadness will begin to take over and you will drop you head and slump your shoulders; however, if you simply force yourself to hold your head up and sit or stand in an erect posture, your mind will search for the emotional state to match the posture. It is simply the way we maintain equilibrium and sanity. By forcibly holding a particular posture, you are forcing your mind to come along for the ride. This technique is not designed as a tool for escapism, but it will allow you to find a place of confidence through which you can effectively take on whatever you challenge you are currently facing.
Not only can you use power-posturing to shift your current emotional state, you can use it to set your state each day. In 2012, Amy Cuddy presented one of the most popular TED Talk segments of all time, in which she introduced an idea that just two minutes of “power poses” each day can completely alter how we feel about ourselves, and how we feel about ourselves (self-image/self-esteem) has a direct impact on what we expect and demand from ourselves.
So, what begins as a practice of mimicking a certain state serves to produce that state emotionally, psychologically, and physiologically.
Remember, I told you the brain has a hard time distinguishing what is real from what is imagined, and it is the same when it attempts to distinguish real confidence from the confidence that is created from simply standing up straight and holding your head up. As I stated earlier, emotion, confidence, and happiness are linked to your posture and the influence travels both ways. While your emotions have the ability to influence your posture, your posture also influences your emotions.
Now, ask yourself what is easiest to control during a disruptive moment, your mind/emotions or your physical posture? The mind must be convinced that what it is perceiving that is causing the negative emotional reaction is not as bad as it appears, but you can simply make up in your mind that you are going to take on a posture of confidence and refuse to acquiesce to the urge to slump and drop your head. The longer you hold that posture, the greater the impact it will have on your emotional state.
Something else I teach my clients to do when they are practicing this exercise is to accompany the posture with positive speech. Consistently speak what you want, not what you don’t want. As you stand up straight, tell yourself out loud, “I am built for this.” “I will succeed.” “I am a winner.” “I will find a solution, or I will create one.” There is no end to the different positive affirmations that you can speak into your life each day. Also, don’t wait until you experience something negative before you practice these techniques; make them a regular part of your day.
Look, you don’t have to take my word for it or the word of the multitudinous people that I have helped. In 2009, Dr. Richard Petty and his colleagues conducted a study of 71 college students who were instructed to either sit up straight and stick out their chest or sit slouched forward. Then he gave the students a short survey that asked them to evaluate their expectations for the future as it pertained to their career goals. Dr. Petty and his colleagues found that how the students rated themselves depended heavily on the posture they were in when they wrote out their self-evaluations.
The students who were in the upright and erect postures — the confident position — demonstrated confidence not only during their evaluations but in the evaluations, themselves. On the other hand, the students in the slumped postures not only failed to demonstrate confidence in their assessments of themselves, but they failed to have confidence in the accuracy of the assessments they had made. Can you see how indecisive the lack of confidence will make you? So, making a conscious effort to maintain a confident posture can prove to be a decisive tool in achieving the desired results you want out of life.
Our emotions and thoughts have an immense power to affect our energy levels and our posture, conversely, energy and posture affect our emotions and thoughts. There is one study that showed that two minutes of skipping as opposed to walking in a slouched position can completely shift energy levels and thoughts. It only takes about two minutes for your brain to shut off the production of one hormone and turn on another.
If you are having a bad day, you can literally take a break from your desk or station, or pull over to the side of the road and make a quick readjustment in less time than it takes for a restroom break or to heat up your lunch. All of this can be done through adjusting your current posture.
It is important that you train yourself to pay attention to your posture so that you can recognize when your posture is not reflecting the state that you desire to be in. The cognitions that often lead to negative emotions and a negative mental state can be so subtle that they are hard to recognize until they have gained momentum; however, you know when you are slouched over and moving in a sluggish manner. Raise your physical energy level and correct your posture as soon as you recognize you are off course. Use your body to rescue you from your negative mental state.
We live in a culture that naturally promotes poor posture — inadvertently supporting a poor emotional state. Think about it. Many of us sit in front of computers for long periods of time, and how many of us square our shoulders and create an erect posture? We are also constantly looking down at our cell phones (one of the greatest thieves of our personal sovereignty there is), meaning our heads are in the hung down position. There is a wealth of empirical and pragmatic evidence that supports that this change in lifestyle culture has resulted in the rise in the diagnoses of depression in the Western Hemisphere. Slouching has also been proven to result in frequent neck and shoulder pains, as well as frequent headaches.
Even where we place the photos of our loved ones in our office has an impact on our posture. The more things that you have hanging above head level, the more you will be forced to look upward throughout the day — resulting in a higher level of energy and a more positive state of mind and emotion.
Look, you are human, which means that you are going to experience negative stimuli in your life. There is no circumvention of life’s vicissitudes; however, how much gravity you give those moments, and how much you trust those negative thoughts will determine the impact they have on your life. When you can arrest negative thoughts and dismiss them as soon as you recognize them, you will neutralize the impact they have on your life, but if you allow those negative moments and the thoughts associated with them to go unchecked, the impact they have on your life will increase with each passing moment. The thoughts you trust the most will have the greatest impact on your life.
There are many ways to positively impact your current state, with the most powerful being “priming,” the period in which you prep yourself for your day, subsequently setting your state before you ever engage the first task of the day. You can also use posture manipulation to rescue yourself from a negative encounter during your day. You should make it a habit to never stay in a negative state for longer than 60-90 seconds. Remember, once you reach that two-minute mark, your brain chemistry will begin to change.
You have far more control over your life than you ever imagined. Now, it is time for you to start exercising your personal sovereignty by controlling your state at all times. ~ Rick Wallace, Ph.D., Psy.D.
Allen, J. (1903). As a Man Thinketh. New York: James Allen.
Assaraf, J., & Smith, M. (2008). The Answer. New York: Atria Books – Simon & Shuster, Inc..
Petty, R. E., Brinol, P., & Wagner, B. (2009). Body Posture Effects on Self-evaluation: A Self-Validation Approach. European Journal of Social Psychology, 1053-1064 – DOI: 10.1002/ejsp.607.
 (Allen, 1903)
 (Petty, Brinol, & Wagner, 2009)