CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a technique used to save someone’s life. It can be used in situations like heart attacks, near drowning, or when someone’s heart has stopped. Since I’ve worked in social wellness and health care fields, providing medical care for people, I am CPR certified. During the CPR course, I realized that the saying “keep your chin up and just breathe” contains life-saving truth!
Even if chest compressions are given, if the airway is blocked it will do little good. Tilting the head back and keeping the head up allows for air to flow into the lungs to supply oxygen to the blood and brain, and is necessary to avoid brain damage or even death. (The American Heart Association teaches the CAB method: compressions, Airway, Breathing as a tool for remembering the order steps are taken in among a real life-threatening situation. If you wish you become CPR certified, you can visit www.cpr.heart.org or www.redcross.org or speak with your health care professional.)
Not only is this technique life-saving in crises, it’s also relevant to everyday surviving and thriving. Keeping your head back, chin up, and smiling while you carry yourself throughout the day are considered nonverbal cues of power and exudes confidence, encourages breathing and letting the shoulders drop and relax, allowing the body to function more effectively. And it does this all while giving you a confidence boost and lighting up the reward center in your brain!
A recent study found that privately holding a power pose, taking up as much space as possible like a starfish or Wonder Woman or by leaning over a desk for example, for just two minutes before an instance where you were going to be evaluated, such as a job interview, date or other social situation, made a difference! It was possible to ‘fake it ‘til you make it!’ Confidence levels were boosted immediately after the short two-minute session.
The person in the power position (like the interviewer or date) responded to their presence, and thought them to be confident, competent, passionate, enthusiastic, authentic, captivating, and comfortable; they received job offers and requests for follow-up dates. The people were reacting much more to body language than the words being said.
Researcher Dr. Amy Cuddy argues your body language not only impacts your job and dating prospects, it changes the chemistry of your blood and may even shape who you are! Large corporations like American Express even stress the importance of conveying power poses. An important message Dr. Cuddy gives in her TedTalk, attached above, is, “Don’t fake it ‘til you make it, fake it ‘til you become it!” Do it enough until you don’t think about it anymore and you realize you are doing it! And remember, “tiny tweaks can lead to BIG changes!” Exude your power, drop your defenses, and allow others to see the real you—that’s who they want to see!
As a performer and someone who is sensitive to energy, I recognized early on that taking up a lot of space not only allowed the audience to see you, it had a way of energizing, instilling a sort of fearlessness. On days when I came into practice not feeling low, simply by acting as if, by making the gestures, I began to feel lighter and filled with joy and confidence. During my communication studies, I discovered research behind this phenomenon, providing insight into why I felt so much more alive when I had spread out, and how easy it was for my creativity and uniqueness to shine through.
As I practiced these power poses, even amidst challenges, I could feel the sting of my challenges and heartache becoming less and less, and my ability to cope with stress and stay true to my character and true self increase.
Communicating your power, confidence, and positivity can influence your life in wonderful ways. So remember to keep your head back, chin up, and smile on. It may just save your life!