FearLess Fridays, Week Three: Practice Assertive Body Language

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The way we establish our physical presence has a huge impact on our safety. Standing in a way that looks strong and feels stable makes us feel more powerful, and also telegraphs to others how alert and confident we feel. Last week we practiced feeling confident, and projecting that feeling, by making eye contact. This week we’re going to build on that base with some stance work that will help you feel prepared for any emergency.

A full-length mirror will help for the first part of this activity—or try it in front of a picture window that gives a decent reflection.

  1. Take a comfortable, but unbalanced stance—that is, stand with more of your weight on one leg than the other. Pushing one hip out, crossing your legs, or leaning on the wall are all indicators of an unbalanced stance.
  2. Observe yourself in the mirror.
  3. Now take a balanced stance: Place your feet shoulder-width apart, with your weight evenly distributed on both (you can put one foot slightly ahead of the other if you like). Straighten your spine and make sure your head is centered over your hips.
  4. Take another look in the mirror.

Try shifting back and forth between stances a few times (KJ, Doris Ann, and Laura show you how it looks in this video snippet). Ask yourself:

  • What do you notice about your physical appearance that is different when you shift from an unbalanced to a balanced stance?
  • Do you feel any different in the two different stances? If so, how?
  • Imagine someone else observing you. Which stance is more likely to make an observer think: “This is an alert person,” “This is a distracted person,” “This person would be hard to knock down”?

For the rest of the week, try to notice when you are in an unbalanced stance. When you find yourself leaning or slouching, move into a balanced stance, and pay attention to the way the change makes you feel.

We tend to adopt unbalanced stances when we’re bored or tired, or when we’re conflicted about where we should be (think about the way a teenager stands in front of the principals’ desk). An unbalanced stance looks passive and potentially vulnerable. A balanced stance, in contrast, tends to look strong and assertive. Practicing a balanced stance is a simple way to make assertive body posture a habit.

By Friday, you should be more aware of your stance, and able to move quickly and comfortably into an assertive, balanced posture that makes you look strong and feel better prepared for unexpected developments.

Let’s use the next five days to make ourselves safer and more powerful! Check in on the comments thread below to share how things are going—or Tweet your responses to @SusanSchorn, hashtag #FearLessFridays. You can find all the FearLess Fridays activities on the main page.