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Strike A Pose for Addiction Recovery

Drug rehab workshop on building recovery confidence, with body language and power posing

The science of posturing may help us reinvent ourselves in drug and alcohol treatment

Stand tall. Chin up.That’s what you tell someone when you want them to feel more confident. But is it mere posturing?

There’s new evidence that posturing works. Certain poses aren't just poses. They’re physical gestures that change your body chemistry. In fact, within minutes of adopting certain poses your testosterone levels increase in both men and women. At the same time stress hormones drop. In turn, the pose changes how you feel and even how people see you. This simple trick, going through the motions of being confident may also be key to personal reinvention as a happier sober individual

In a drug rehab,we’re involved in the business of helping individuals to recreate themselves. The new science of posing might prove helpful in that.

Posers Had Better Outcomes

Power matters in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. One needs to gain self-control and empowerment over one’s addictive behavior and over the various triggers which create a need to use drugs or alcohol. True or not our society views addiction as a failure of will and self-control. Even Alcoholics Anonymous 12 step program buys into that in the first step which states: “We Admitted We are Powerless over Alcohol.”

At some point, recovery from addiction means finding the power to make the right changes.Personal power is an exploding field of social study and coaching and the new science of posing is just a glimpse of some new principles.

Looking for a job? Trying to make a good impression?

The Benefit of Power Posing, a seminal study published in 2012, by the Harvard Business School asked whether people who adopted more expansive, open and aggressive stances outperformed others. In short, the answer is yes. The study which focused on job interviews, highlighted the empowerment of power posing.

The same empowerment can be directed to self-control in recovery. It showed people simply who changed their postures to more expansive, outward postures, were more likely to be hired, But a second study on body chemistry was perhaps more intriguing. If these poses change the way we feel, is there an actual detectable chemical change in the body?

The study published in the journal Psychological Science asked: “Can these postures actually cause power?”

The answer? Another surprising yes. Now how can that power be harnessed to help individuals striving for recovery use it to control and dismiss their urges to use drugs or alcohol. In a rehab center the proper use of such tools and techniques to empower self-control and enhance good is explained and practiced.

Adopting The Posture of Confidence Reduced Stress Hormones – the ones triggering the use of drugs and alcohol.

The study found that high-power body language (as opposed to low-power body language) causes beneficial hormonal and behavioral changes for both males and females, according to the research team. The researchers did blood tests during posing and came away with surprising results.

“High-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol (the major stress hormone), and increased feelings of power” the study read. ” Low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern.”

What the blood tests suggest is that confident posing increased testosterone a hormone, associated with bold individualistic action and empowerment. It also showed decreases in cortisol the primary stress hormone. People who posed in withdrawn, repressed ways experienced the opposite biochemical effect.

Perhaps most stunning was how fast these things happened. Simply adopting what’s called a “Victory Pose” standing confidently with legs spread, shoulders out and hands on hips, created an significant increase in testosterone levels within two minutes.

The woman behind the studies is a story of reinvention and recovery herself.

Professor Amy Cuddy is the posturing wunderkind. The Harvard Psychologist has single-handedly spring-boarded the science of posing into the public eye after a single TED appearance. In fact, Cuddy’s 2012 TED talk, in which she explains her theory of power posing, became the second most watched TED talk in history.

Cuddy herself presents an intriguing story of recovery, having overcome a debilitating brain injury to become a star professor and psychologist.

PAt 19 while a sophomore at the University of Colorado, Cuddy was in a car where the diver fell asleep. In the ensuing violent crash, Cuddy was thrown from the vehicle. Cuddy suffered a serious brain injury and her doctors told her she was unlikely to fully recover.

PHer prognosis was so bad that she was told she would probably have trouble finishing her undergraduate degree. Her IQ fell by two standard deviations. And she was told she should look hard at choosing a different path in life. But Cuddy would eventually complete her undergraduate studies and went on to earn a PhD at Princeton.

The First Step: Fake It Until You Make It

Cuddy was seriously challenged by the realities of academia. She was so nervous when giving her first lecture, she almost gave up and walked out. Cuddy described feeling like an imposter while working as a junior professor. But it was perhaps then that Cuddy made an important personal discovery. Maybe a little bit of imposter is ok.  Even though she was full of doubt, when she walked into a classroom, she would put her chin up, and feign confidence. She would later prove this principle of faking it until you make it. Faking confidence, within reason, creates the real body chemistry of a confident person and that may be the first step to real confidence. Soon Cuddy would find herself at the very real Harvard Business School.

Like Cuddy perhaps, many addicts have debilitating crashes in life. But these aren't necessarily car accident. Addicts sometimes end up feeling they will never recover. However, what’s amazing is the percentage of people who truly recover from addiction to alcohol and drugs and go on to success and happiness.

It may be the first step is act the part, so to speak. Start acting and thinking like a sober person.

Although posing is perhaps a new theory. What it suggests that if you want to become something, the first step may require a leap of faith, before your actual confidence catches up.

In recovery, many of us are starting over. Alcohol and drug addiction can really knock you down. What these sciences suggest playfully, is that the way you stand back up matters. Recovery is both an art and a science and getting the best information and learning in treatment can empower you to establish limits and self-control.

Although false confidence is dangerous, daring to be a little bold in taking on new challenges to discipline and empower yourself over drug or alcohol addiction may have a real payoff. There’s a lesson here perhaps. If you’re nervous about your next steps in life after treatment, it’s worth putting your chin up, standing tall and stepping boldly into the future.

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