Our well-being and quality of life largely depends on how we relate to our own emotions. However, it is a complex task which, in addition to forcing us to adopt certain routines, cannot take place if we harbor certain misconceptions about our emotional side.
The first of these problematic beliefs is that we are condemned to experience emotions which, quite spontaneously, would appear in our consciousness in a way that is totally disconnected from our will and our interests; The truth is that while we can’t fully control what goes through our minds, we do have leeway to influence how we feel about the things that happen to us.
And the second of these beliefs is that emotions always manifest from the inside out, from our subjectivity to the objective actions and movements that are reflected in our body. In fact, in the same way that the emotional has effects on our body and our actions, it is the same in the opposite direction: we can carry out actions which help to modulate our emotional side. We will talk about the latter in this article, focusing on how we can influence our emotions through body postures.
How does our posture influence our emotions?
The nervous system is far from being a simple “dashboard” from which commands are issued and all the processes that occur in our body are controlled. In the same way that the brain sends nerve impulses through chains of neurons to activate or deactivate muscles, glands and all kinds of organs, it also constantly receives a torrent of information about everything that is happening inside. inside of us (or what is registered by our senses).
That is to say that his work is not a one-way street, but participates in a feedback-action loop that returns and that it has no clear direction: in the same way that, for example, the decisions we make affect the way we move, the way we move leads us to register different stimuli and these new “inputs” influence our mental states. .
This happens both with biological processes that depend on our voluntary actions and with those that are involuntary. For example, our nervous system is full of networks of neurons that constantly send a lot of information to our brain, and our muscles also have certain sensory structures that report the position of each part: these are the muscle spindles, the tendon organs Golgi and joint receptors.
But these “entries” are not just information as we usually understand it; it is not only a material on which to make decisions and know from an intellectual point of view what is happening in our body. It also favors the appearance of certain or other emotions. Something that makes sense considering that emotions are age-old adaptive mechanisms that help us react to stimuli quickly and without having to think much, something crucial for survival (we can’t always afford to spend several minutes thinking about what to do).
Thus, it is not uncommon that throughout our lineage, for hundreds of thousands of years, they are “pre-programmed” into our nervous system. a series of predispositions to link a certain emotional state to certain positions of the body; it is something that helps protect us from dangers and take advantage of opportunities with maximum efficiency, without delaying us too much.
Postural pathways influence our emotions
How our postures affect our emotional state can be divided into two categories.
1. Internal route
The internal way is the one that happens in our own body. That is to say, the most influenced by the organic and by our biological predispositions.
2. Psychosocial course
The psychosocial course is based on the communication we have with those around us and can see us. More specifically, it is based on non-verbal communication; the way we emit information through elements that cannot be translated into words, combined with the way these facts are interpreted by others. Our postures convey a message and we record how others receive this information.
How to improve body posture mood?
Although each case is unique and it is generally recommended to go to psychotherapy to receive personalized training in emotional management, here is basically advice that you can apply to your life.
1. Avoid crossing your arms or clasping your hands in front if you want to relax
The fact of crossing the arms or holding the hands under the breastbone is related to the expectation that something or someone might attack us; that’s why we use our weapons to protect certain vulnerable parts. In doing so, we may feel a little nervous at first, but we’ll soon be more comfortable with the situation when we see that there are no negative consequences to taking a more open stance.
2. Don’t lean on your body if you want to boost your confidence
Likewise, if you don’t want to be tense, it is better that you direct your whole body towards the place where your main interlocutor is. If you offer your diagonal, your body will interpret that there is something you should fear about this person.
3. Stand up straight
Without becoming obsessed with keeping your spine completely rigid (which is not recommended for health), at least try not to bend too much. This posture only serves to hold several muscle groups rigid at the same time in a totally unnecessary way, keeping active this experience that something bad can happen to you and negatively affecting your self-confidence both in the way you perceive yourself and how they perceive you. .
Are you interested in starting a psychotherapy process?
If you are considering undergoing psychological therapy to learn how to better manage your emotions, we invite you to contact us.
In Psychotools We care for people of all ages and can help you with everything from psychotherapy to classes and workshops and training on topics such as mindfulness or stress management. You will find our psychology center in the Vallcarca district of Barcelona, or you can also opt for the online video call therapy modality.
- Dalgleish, T. (2004). The emotional brain. Reviews of Nature Neuroscience. 5 (7): p. 583 – 589.
- Friedman, BH (2010). Feelings and bodies: the Jamesian perspective on the autonomous specificity of emotion. Biological Psychology. 84 (3): p. 383 – 393.
- McCornack, S. (2019). Choices and connections: an introduction to communication. Boston: Bedford Books St Martin.
- OnlinePoyatos, F. (1995). Non-verbal communication: culture, language and conversation. Isthmus.