Embodying Change - The Hack that Sticks

Change. Improvement. Resolutions. This time of year is rife with expectation. Have any New Years’ resolutions? This question comes with both a feeling of momentum and anticipatory guilt at the all too probable inability to maintain our New Year-spurred efforts.

When people discuss change, the focus is often on the outcome, instead of the process by which a new behavior sticks. In studying embodiment, the subject of change includes the physical components. What many people don’t realize, is that your body can actually be a big help when it comes to sticking to new commitments and realizing new goals.

Will this year be any different? It can be, and here’s how.

Let’s take negotiating a raise, or a new responsibility at work as an example of how this can work.


Changes like this are tough because they represent a shift in the status quo, not only for you, but for a collection of your colleagues and for the company itself. The first thing to notice is what happens on a physiological level when you think about advocating on behalf of yourself for this change. Does your heart beat quicken? Does your posture close in on itself even ever so slightly? Are you subconsciously hoping for a distraction, an excuse or for someone else to take up your cause for you and how might this be manifesting itself physically?

Once you are aware of your physical response, you can then begin to introduce a physical change that can interrupt the exacerbating behavior and provide you instead with a new feeling of empowerment associated with an opportunity. A physical change can be anything from opening up your posture, reconnecting with the floor or the chair you are sitting on, or the feeling of having a light on your sternum projecting up and out on a diagonal. It might be a shifting forwards ever so slightly of your weight or it might be something even more internal.

The third part to this puzzle is practice. The magic of muscle memory is letting your body help you redefine the conversation without having to spend any energy thinking about it. Dancers rely on muscle memory so that they can dive deeper into the details of emotional performance, instead of always having to think about the steps. Let your body help you in a similar way. Practice embodying your change or commitment to increase your chances at getting it to stick.

As we enter 2019, challenge yourself to add this layer to any change or goal you desire. The more you are able to fully embody a conviction, the higher your chances of having your intention become your upgraded reality. Please share your experience with me!

Rachel Cossar