Our body can express our emotional state. When we are in a gloomy mood, we have quite often a stooping posture, shoulders bent forward, and the gaze is dropped. But this functionality of our body to adjust our posture according to our mood is not a one-way street.
It works in the reverse direction as well: by changing our posture we are able to change our emotional state. Body and Mind are an interacting unity.
Our brain is constantly on guard watching over our whole situation. And our posture is one signal to assess what’s going on at the moment.
Therefore, “Chin up!” is an encouragement you should take literally. In general, an upright, or even a reclined posture signals a secure environment. The brain gives the green light and in consequence, we are relaxed and can experience basic confidence.
Scientists at Northwestern University have shown that already different chairs can change how you feel and what you think about yourself. Sitting in comfortable armchairs makes the participants powerful while crouching on a small, hard chair makes them feel weak. That’s why the CEO has always the biggest chair in the company.
Beware of unconscious motives
But why do we not simply choose to sit, stand, or walk in an upright posture if it is that beneficial?
The reason is that there is a motive to stick to a meek, humble posture. And this motive is the more or less unconscious intention to please the other person, or, to put it in other words, to seek his or her approval.
If this wants to seek approval is not recognized in its entirety and tackled properly, the resistance to change your posture will be too high and the accompanying feelings too burdensome. Changing your posture to a more confidant one will not help you if the deeper, underlying motive to please other people is still the king of the castle.
A long term exercise
Nevertheless, bearing the warning about approval-seeking in mind, assuming an upright posture is a very good practice for your day-to-day life whenever you are in neutral situations. Each time you change your posture to an upright one, you give yourself the feedback that you are a person worth being seen and to look at.
In the long term, this will increase your self-esteem. Even if you think your low self-esteem is made of stone, the constant dripping (of short, but frequent exercises) will wear it away.