It took me a long time to understand that your posture can make or break you.
For a long time, I used to think that “experts” discussing body language were engaging in a type of pseudoscience; however, I’ve come around to the idea that your posture affects how you see yourself as well as how others see you.
“If your posture is poor, for example—if you slump, shoulders forward and rounded, chest tucked in =, head down, looking small, defeated and ineffectual—then you will feel small defeated, and ineffectual,” writes author Jordon Peterson. “The reactions from others will amplify that. People,” Peterson continues, “like lobsters, size each other up, partly in consequence of stance. If you present yourself as defeated, then people will react to you as if you are losing.” Finally, the author adds: “If you start to straighten up, then people will look at and treat you differently.”
It’s true. Standing up straight, shoulders back, can make a world of difference.
“Standing up physically also implies and invokes and demands standing up metaphysically,” Peterson continues. Apparently, there are changes to a person’s nervous system that senses one’s posture.
“Standing up means voluntarily accepting the burden of being. Your nervous system responds in an entirely different manner when you face the demands of life voluntarily. You respond to a challenge, instead of bracing for a catastrophe.”
In some circles, claims have also been made that your posture can affect your mood. As Peterson says, engaging in a defeated body posture can lead to a defeated attitude.
Also, there are many cases, speaking more broadly, where body language more generally can signal others to how your feeling, and, perhaps, what you are thinking. Author David J. Lieberman discusses this in his book, “You Can Read Anyone.” Although body language and posture are not the same thing per se (body language being a border, more general way to talk about body movement, while posture specifically address the upper body, shoulder, and back), there are some similarities. Lieberman more broadly discussed body language. For example, how a person moves when he or she is nervous.
That begin said, however, as Peterson points out, people are constantly sizing each other up, and your posture reveals a lot about who you are. “Attend carefully to your posture,” Peterson writes. “Quit drooping and hunching around. Speak your mind.”
So, finally, how you stand and sit announces to the world who you are.
Peterson, J. (2018). 12 rules for life: An antidote to chaos. Random House, Canada.
Lieberman, D. J. (2007). You can read anyone. MJF Books, New York, NY.