Recently when I was speaking at an event, I asked a friend of mine to film my speech. The camera angle was shot from the side of the audience, so it wasn’t a great video. However, I wanted to watch back through the flow of the speech.
When I sat down to watch it the next morning, I realized how incredibly bad my posture was from the side angle. Usually, if I watch a video of myself speaking, it is from the front-facing angle, and I can’t see the perspective from the side. This video made it plain to see: I was constantly slouching.
That morning, I vowed to make a new start: to stand at my full height and have strong posture. Little did I realize how difficult it would be.
I got up out of my chair and pushed my shoulders back. I rose my head as high as I could, till I could feel the muscles being stretched out. It wasn’t exactly painful, but it also wasn’t comfortable.
However, the physical change wasn’t the most difficult part. The true challenge was to remember to keep doing it. Within a few minutes, I’d get distracted by a task and soon, I’d realize I was slumping again.
Throughout that first day, I must have corrected my posture 30 times or more. Each time, I caught myself in the act of slouching; dropping back down into my habitual behavior. I even made a wallpaper for the home screen of my phone that said ‘Rise Up’ so that every time I used my phone I had a reminder.
Until that day, I never realized how much slouching was an issue for me. Seeing myself from another angle on video made me realize I had a different physical image than I thought. The world saw me in a very different way than I imagined.
The word posture has two meanings. The first meaning is: ‘the position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting.’
I believe that the secondary meaning is more important: ‘a particular way of dealing with or considering something; an approach or attitude.’
I actually think that the two definitions are more connected than we realize.
Your physical posture is an unconscious indicator of your relationship to life. Those who stand tall seem to have a different sense of power about them. It seems they are defying the gravity that tries to hold them down. Other people unconsciously can sense this inner power simply from the body language they display to the world.
Those who rise up to meet the world at their full height seem to have more control, more poise, more confidence.
Think about this: it is very rare to see a child with bad posture. As children, we stick our chest out and hold our head high. We want to grow up and become taller.
As we grow into teenagers and adults, we start to slouch. It seems like the gravity of the world starts to weigh on us. The expectations and responsibilities of life take a toll and cause us all to bow our heads a little. It is like an unconscious display of resignation that we reflect back to the world.
You’ve probably seen an older man or woman slumped over so badly they need a walking frame. To me, this represents many decades of life pushing down on them, making them feel weathered. Just looking at them, you can almost feel how painful it must be.
It is rare to see an adult with strong, upright posture. Someone who has their head held high, their shoulders pushed back, tackling the world at their full height.
After about a week of trying to correct my bad posture habit, I had made some progress. I could feel that my neck was naturally a little straighter and my back muscles seemed more comfortable with the new posture position.
But more than that, I had a different psychological edge about me. When I stood tall, I felt more in control and commanding about who I was. When I was speaking to a group or talking with people, and I had strong posture, I felt more at ease with who I was. I was sending out a different message of confidence.
For me, having strong posture is something that will always need work. I can’t expect to naturally rise up to my full height. I will always need to do it as a daily practice. But I believe the more I do it, and keep myself in a strong position, the more it will become a part of who I am.
I am sure if you’ve read this far, you are now sitting up straight as well, and can feel both the discomfort and also the emotional power it brings.
I encourage you to keep challenging yourself to rise up against the gravity of life, and show the world how powerful you truly are.