Fake it until you become it, eh?

Lately I’ve been enjoying rising in the dark, listening to the whistling teakettle and the humming wood stove, and writing stories.  Did you know the Native Americans reserved many stories to share only in wintertime, when wind whipped outside wigwams and snow froze tiptoeing foootsteps?

Grandmother Moon’s tears turned white last night and an inch or two of new snow covers our cars.  We’re both off to work early today, and tonight Grandfather Snow’s threatening an all-out November fit with several inches of his wrath.  Why are the heavens fighting?  A Native American elder might keep the kids entertaining for hours explaining the god’s drama.

My drama?  Thank you for asking.

Body language

Body language

As many of you know, I’ve been given the *esteemed* honor of teaching our K-6th graders Spanish while their regular teacher, Senora Maki, visits a certain desert land where neighbors may actually greet her with, “Buenos dias!  Que tal?”

I was coerced begged-requested to teach the kids at our tiny school while Senora enjoyed cactus out her back window.  (Senora is a good friend of mine, who actually often reads this blog, thereby endearing herself to me evermore.)  Actually, I inadvertently volunteered for the position.

“Hey, I could teach espanol!” I blabbed, neveryoumind that five years had passed since the last spoken sentence of Spanish and everyone knows I can’t remember nada.

Senora Maki and the other senora-teachers grasped at this resolution of our missing teacher syndrome just before I changed my mind.

“No, never mind,” said I, coming to my senses, “that was a stupid idea.  Let’s just forget about it.”

“You’ll do fine,” they all insisted firmly.

Stretch your limits

Stretch your limits

I’m usually very adept at saying “no”.  I said no six times to all the senoras.  It was a mistake!  I didn’t mean to volunteer!  They smiled patiently while Senora Maki promised lesson plans even though Kathy kept stuttering no-n0-no to no avail.

Kathy imagines herself a writer, but not a teacher.  Would disaster strike?  Would the children run roughshod across her?  How could she, por gracias, instruct nine students between age five and 12?

The first lesson occurred in October.  The last lesson shall be December 5th and Senora Maki you had better be home before the following Thursday!

Gentle reader, try to imagine teaching Spanish–or anything–to a class with such an age span.  The Kindergarteners still possess a desire to wander, to sharpen their lapices. The First and Second grade attention span yet develops.  The Third and Fourth graders grasp the public education system while the Fifth and Sixth Graders have the potential to barter in the markets of Mexico.

Yet how does a teacher orchestrate it all?  How can one inspire the elders, guiding them to their potential, while keeping the Kindergarteners in their seats?

I have no idea.

Interesting body language

Interesting body language

However, yesterday their substitute teacher learned the biggest lesson of all.

My daughter waxed enthusiastically about a TED talk by Amy Cuddy she’d recently watched.  Eight million viewers have watched it already, so this is probably old news to you.

It’s called:  “Fake it until you become it” and, ohmygoodness, I recommend each of you watch the twenty minute video and try a small experiment before your next potentially stressful Spanish class or job interview.

Her premise?  We all know of the mind-body connection.  Our mind affects our body, right?  But did you also know that our body can equally affect our mind?

She recommends a two-minute “power posture” which actually raises our testosterone (whatcha think of that, senoritas and senoras?) and lowers our cortisone (stress).  Folks who engage in this powerful body language actually perform much better than those who teach Spanish or talk to their landlord with  insecure body language.

I power-postured for two minutes before departing the house yesterday afternoon.

YES!  I felt awesome!  I could parachute out of an airplane!

Power-postured again for two minutes at the school before teaching.

YES!  Those kids would LEARN ESPANOL!  No more fussing and fretting!  No more defeat at the mercy of babes!

In which an Elderberry bud performs a power posture

In which an Elderberry bud performs a power posture

I taught for an hour.  Who knows if the kids learned more or less than the previous times, but darn it, the power pose seemed to work for me.  I felt more relaxed and comfortable in the classroom than before.  The kids responded better.  Nervousness did not even show her insecure face.

Of course, you may imagine this the placebo effect.  Kathy was, once again, brainwashed into relaxing.

And this may be true!  If it’s the placebo effect, how wonderful!  Please watch the video, try the experiment and let me know how it works for you.  How about flexing the power posture pose for two minutes before writing your next blog or visiting your doctor or balancing your checkbook?

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in November 2013 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to Fake it until you become it, eh?

  1. lisaspiral says:

    I’ve not tried this, but I have done the “make yourself smile to make yourself feel better” body feedback thing. It does help. Hmmmm power posture before I balance the checkbook………..

    • Kathy says:

      Hi, Lisa, I have been feeling pumped since yesterday. Have tried that smile “feel better” response, too. I’m not sure if the power posture will FILL the checkbook but maybe it will help us not panic.

  2. Jeff Stroud says:

    This phrase “fake it till you make” is very common in recovery groups, mostly because a newly recovery person can not imagine ever being sober/clean the rest of their lives. Or how to be in the world in which they have been under the influence throughout.

    Part of you wished or needed to teach this class in spite of your comfort zone. Our mutual friend Laurie has a quote on her page “Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.” suggesting there is a choice.

    I am being all preachy. Oy!

    Whatever gets you there, there is no brainwashing involved when desire leads the path.

    • Kathy says:

      Jeff, thanks for sharing about that. I didn’t know it was popular in recovery groups. I’ve never been a person to think about the body changing the mind. Instead, usually focus on the mind influencing the body. It’s OK if we get preachy sometimes. It can be kinda fun, can’t it? Happy weekend!

  3. Kathy, you are the best. I haven’t watched the video, but I know that sometimes I automatically do this. I think I will try it today. More words of wisdom from one of my favorite blogging gurus. 3>

    • Kathy says:

      Wow, a blogging guru sometimes? You make me smile today, Lisa. I am going to be much more aware of body language from now on. Glad to have watched this.

  4. Elisa says:

    lol i have shriveled down right out of that pose, which to me is a grounding stance

    I am really happy to see it and for the giggles that come along with it.

    • Kathy says:

      Elisa, did your arms hurt keeping them in the air (if that’s the power pose you did?) Mine did. Then I leaned way back against the file cabinets, really big, feeling like a big guy with utter confidence. It made me giggle, too.

      • Elisa says:

        just a shoulder a wee bit, it’s going to take me to OT soon

        Kevin got me over the arms falling asleep and the ouchy bits years ago hehe, he would never tiff me on the back of the heard NOR flap under my arms shoving them back up into the ‘proper’ pose–no giggling serious business. He is lucky that I found his beardyness hilarious on the inside, while attempting to scowl in a serious manner. (he must have known he’d just close his eyes, breathe and shake his head a little roflmao)

  5. sandiwhite says:

    Kathy, I am often caught giving myself a pep-talk before I teach a class or am called upon to do any sort of public thinking. Whether conversing with a client or the produce guy at the grocery store, I aim to have a “settled at the base” kind of posture, like a pyramid. I’ll watch the TED talk later today but have enjoyed your post very much! Buena Vista!

    • Kathy says:

      Sandi, this is not the way I usually think, so it’s utterly fascinating. Like your pyramid thoughts and how that might help one settle more at ease in the situation. You will probably like the TED talk very much. Glad you liked the post. I was so inspired by it all!

  6. Barb says:

    Well, I have watched it, I have been the bionic woman for 2 minutes…we will see how the day unfolds!

    • Kathy says:

      OK, Barb, are you STILL bionic woman? Strangely enough, I still am. Of course, I’ve done the power pose at least six times and kept witnessing when I tend to scrunch up and go fetal. LOL. We’ll see how it all is tomorrow…

  7. Heather says:

    The body and the mind certainly influence one another. I can see how this would be very effective. I bet the kiddies noticed how confident you were and learned the most Spanish ever. 🙂 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Hey, Ms. Heather, you know I think many people actually use their body to influence their mind. I just have never consciously been one of those “in the know”. Always using the mind to influence the body. Wow, to think how many things we still have to learn before we leave this planet! Hasta luego…

  8. I Am Jasmine Kyle says:

    I just love LOVE LOVE snow and ice sculpture! What a beautiful post thank you for that!

    • Kathy says:

      Jasmine, that gorgeous snow and ice sculpture was created at Michigan Technological University just north of us in 2011, I think. Isn’t it amazing? Glad you liked this post. I am still so jazzed by the possibilities.

      • I Am Jasmine Kyle says:

        I know! When I lived in Fairbanks they had a ice sculpture contest there it was all lit up and there were rides it was amazing!

  9. Great technique! I learned something similar from therapy and yoga many years ago.

  10. P.j. grath says:

    I remember this from my first theatre class: Not “Be afraid, then run” but “Run — and feel fear!” The opposite is your posture of confidence. Good for you! This lesson is so helpful in SO MIUCH of life, I find!

    • Kathy says:

      Pamela, I think that feeling fear–what we’re experiencing–can be very good for us. Not running away from it, not being overwhelmed with it, but staying with the base fear and seeing that we will survive. However, there are times when fear just paralyzes too much and we shut down on Life, don’t you think? At these times a little nudge from body language might be just the ticket.

  11. Kathy – I wasn’t one of the eighty-bazillion people to previously watch this video, so THANK YOU for posting it here [typed from a temporarily modified Warrior Pose] 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Laurie, glad to hear that you enjoyed the video! I had such fun experimenting with it on Thursday and hope it gives others some added boost to their more insecure moments. *grin*

  12. Stacy says:

    Or stepping in front of a bunch of 16-year-old high school students. I may only be 5 feet two inches tall, but power posture makes me, oh, at least 5′ 3″!

  13. Joanne says:

    Placebo works for me! I’m not one of the eight million viewers who have watched this TED talk, but will do so. I’ve often told my daughters that when in doubt, stand tall and fake it, so it will be great for me to hear a knowledgeable lady speak on the topic. Thank you for sharing, Kathy, and good luck with the little niñoaniña. (I looked that up, so hope it’s right. I don’t speak a word of Spanish!) 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      You gotta love placebos, don’t you, Joanne? I’m glad you get that. Your daughters will surely appreciate that piece of wisdom that you’re passing on. (Yes, by the way, you got nino and nina right, even with the wavy lines over the “n’s” which I can’t find without searching for a new font type. Hope you enjoy the TED talk. It surely was inspiring.

  14. Karma says:

    As I teacher I can barely imgine trying to teach such a range of ages in one classroom! Wow what a challenge. We find it challenging enough in our “inclusion model” middle school to reach all levels of learners within one age group!

    • Kathy says:

      Karma, after this experience I have become even more appreciative of teachers! (Especially multi-age teachers.) Honoring you for all the work you do everyday with kids, my friend.

  15. Bonnie says:

    Have not tried the pose yet, but I will. Sounds great if it works, placebo or not. I love your phrase, “Grandmother Moon’s tear turned white”. Wow!!!!! Beautiful. Many long years ago, I had to practice teach in one room school houses, in S.Ontario. Several grades. It was certainly a challenge. Good luck to you. In fact, I’ve been thinking of one such room today, because that’s where I was when President Kennedy was shot. Some things one never forget.

    • Kathy says:

      Bonnie, with your past experience practice teaching in a one-room school, you know exactly what I mean. What a memory for you to have–being in that school–when President Kennedy was shot. I think many of us remember where we were that day when we heard the news.

  16. Such lovely brain-washing. I”ll drink a cup of coffee to that. Excellent post.

    • Kathy says:

      Yvonne, glad you enjoyed the brain-washing. I’m not sure it would work all the time, but I had such fun trying this on Thursday. Happy you liked the post!

  17. TED talks are just the best, however, I am behind in listening so have not heard this one. I hope it reminds me of behavior modification and how one can modify their behavior and make life better (so that master psychology teacher use to teach). It is a choice and I am sure I need to hear it. I want to look up the warrior pose…wondering if it looks anything like one of the T’ai Chi poses….

    The ice sculptures were lovely…

    Off to another funeral today. Wonder if power poses can keep my friends from dying?

    • Kathy says:

      Linda, I’ve maybe listened to about six TED talks in my life, and always forget they exist. The fact that you listen regularly makes me want to remember and listen more often. It’s good to know we have choices. Not sure we have choices about our friend’s dying though… Even power poses can’t really help on that, can they? Sorry to hear you’ve another funeral today. So very sorry.

  18. sybil says:

    Now the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode is over I’ll watch your TED talk.

  19. Dana says:

    I saw this video quite a while ago, but thank you for the lovely reminder to POWER POSE more often, my dear! I remember crying a bit when I first saw this video. TED Talks always do me in…

    • Kathy says:

      Dana, yep, I can imagine you crying watching the video. It was just so darn inspiring. I felt like climbing to the roof and shouting! Leaping up and grabbing a star! (And then came Saturday…in which the opposite of Power Pose asserted itself…) Yin/Yang can be so crazy sometimes, can’t it?

  20. “Our bodies change our minds” is not a new concept to me. Working with special needs students has taught me how important body movement is with children who are mentally challenged. It also makes a difference with people who have had brain injuries or had a stroke. Movement will create new pathways in the brain, so I can see how practicing the power poses would help change a person’s attitude. I never realized how it affects the testosterone & cortisol levels, though. That was quite interesting. I hope the power poses help you in the classroom. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Withershins, I want to remember this. “Our bodies change our minds”. Wonder why some people understand this so much and others of us keep forgetting? It seems to take me longer than others to learn with my body. It took 9 months to learn a simple yoga sequence. Others caught on in two sessions. Thanks for your comments. I truly appreciate them.

  21. I love the elderberry photo AND your caption Kathy!

    • Kathy says:

      Patty, that elderberry photo was taken in 2009 during the daily outdoor blog. I couldn’t believe one could find a bloom in the forest celebrating a power pose!! Glad you liked this.

  22. Maria says:

    Great post! When I remember, there are a few times of day that work for me to pay attention to my posture and how I feel (unfortunately, they aren’t at work where my posture is probably worst, but maybe some day that will change).

    One is when I brush my teeth. Once I went to a personal trainer to learn to lift weights and she recommended focusing on tightening your ab muscles for the two minutes while you brush your teeth because it helps strengthen your core. I haven’t done this regularly in a while, but perhaps I’ll start again.

    The other one is when I’m washing dishes or doing kitchen chores at a counter. I try to remember to not hunch my back so much, and I really like to feel my feet on the hardwood floor and how my body is stacked straight on top of them.

    Just a few ideas for a few other cues to remind you to strike that power pose!

    • Kathy says:

      Maria, thank you so much! I really like your ideas. To train ourselves to remember to check our posture. I really appreciate you sharing them. (And now I’m checking my posture, too.)

  23. Students in my Piyo class this past semester had to watch Amy Cuddy’s talk as an intro on body-mind connection. Good stuff!

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