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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Can Posture Affect Self-Confidence?

Can one's posture really affect one's confidence? I think so.

I recall several years ago when a tuba student approachi me after class about a goal-setting exercise I had assigned. In her assignment, the student had stated that one of her top priorities was to build up her self-confidence. I said that I could help her with just a few minor suggestions, and the student approached me later to ask for those suggestions.

The only suggestions I made were to show the student how to stand erect with good posture. I told her that although it didn't feel "normal" (since she had been standing inappropriately for some time), "it is just as easy to practice a good habit as it is a bad one." I told her that every time I met her in the hallways, I expected to see her walking or standing erectly with the proper posture. Then after two weeks, I asked her to report back to me with her observations.

Two weeks later, the young lady returned to see me with erect posture and a huge smile on her face. She told me that standing up taller and more erect had boosted her self-confidence level completely. Even when she felt insecure, she would still manage to walk or stand correctly, and she would then begin to feel more confident. In other words, she acted confidently and therefore became more confident.

I think it's more than that. As I observed this young lady and my student Joseph as they made positive posture transformations, I realized that the changes themselves were only part of the end result. Because these students stood in a way that is universally recognized as exuding self-confidence, leadership, and command, the people around these students responded as if the students were self-confident leaders and in control and command. Then to complete the circle, because these students were being treated as self-confident leaders, they behaved even more like self-confident leaders. And all it took were a few minor posture adjustments!

Look around you. People don't seem to remember how to walk erectly. We seem to be poster children for the Julie Andrews movie "The Princess Diaries," where the queen admonishes the princess for her posture: "We don't schlump."

What happened to Joseph? Stay tuned. Joseph is set to retake his upper level exam early in December. I have high hopes that he will succeed this time. He is a completely different person this go-around. I am excited about the transformation and its possibilities!

Next time, we will continue our discussion of what makes good posture as it relates to the violin. I invite you to comment or make suggestions. If you have questions, send those as well.

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