Three Confidence Hacks - From the Ground Up

The topic of confidence is relevant to everyone.  Everyone wants more of it - even the most seemingly confident person out there. Where does the body come in? What does a confident person look like and can you make yourself appear more confident by posturing in a certain way?

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I recently presented at a conference for women in STEM at the Scientista Foundation Symposium in NYC. The subject of the hour and a half session which I co-lead with the inimitable Mackenzie J. Lowry, was on the Confidence Gap. 

 Me and Mackenzie - my partner in crime

Me and Mackenzie - my partner in crime

In a room full of almost 70 phenomenally intelligent young women, I decided the most efficient use of our time together, would be to focus on posture, and how to hack the first impression conundrum. After all, if first impressions tend to stick, and one can be made within the first 7 seconds you lay eyes on someone, it is a pretty powerful component of perception in today's fast paced world. 

So the big question: what can you do when you're not feeling confident and you need to give the appearance of being confident? 

As a dancer, having to go on stage in front of thousands of people to execute a technically challenging piece of choreography can be terrifying. Throughout my career, I figured out a few physical hacks that allowed me to feel like I had more control - and thus, made me feel more confident. 

The next time you feel like your heart is palpitating and your blood levels are on a roller coaster, remember the following three things:

1) Think about your connection with the floor. For just one moment, channel your nerves and anxieties into the ground - I promise the floor will take it, and send back a reassuring energy. Dancers' have an incredible relationship with the floor - they have to, that's how they move so quickly and jump so high. The same positive relationship can be useful in day to day scenarios because it allows you to direct any negative energy away from your face, shoulders and hands. 

2) Pair your breathing with movement: One conference attendee asked me what she can do to help remember to breath regularly. My answer? Pair your breathing with movement. Breathe in as you become aware of the areas of tension, and as you breathe out, send all of that negative energy, once again, into the ground. 

3) Do the Amy Cuddy, aka, take up more space. Instead of thinking about pushing your shoulders back, extend your shoulders out on a horizontal axis, becoming as wide in the shoulders as you can - think 'expand'. If you increase your shoulder width, you get the sense of being larger, you give off the appearance of standing larger, and not being afraid to take up the space you own.

 Just giving the Scientista Founders some photo coaching:)

Just giving the Scientista Founders some photo coaching:)

These three hacks can be incredibly useful. I tapped into them as a dancer, and I tap into them even more now. 

We are all used to having our bodies react to our minds. But in cases when a certain outcome is desired, our bodies can do a pretty good job not only of convincing others, but also of convincing ourselves of a different reality. It's like Amy Cuddy says, 'you can fake it until you become it'.