Stand up to what bullies you
TED’s short talks are a gift to those with curiosity plus limited time and/or attention. During cancer treatment and ensuing brain fog I couldn’t read, write, or converse. TED was perfect for me. I watched Amy Cuddy’s TED talk again and again, thinking Amy’s – after so many viewings I’m on first names with her – research can help bullying targets, healing, and upping conflict competence. In nonlinear fashion, power poses cycled through my thoughts into a few brief ideas:
There’s lots of science, wisdom and other evidence of the mind affecting the body and the body affecting the mind. That isn’t new. During the cancer treatment, I had at least two dramatic experiences of this connection.
I was to have a PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter) in a vein. The chemo was so toxic it would’ve blown out the vein had they injected it without the PICC. A fifteen-minute procedure was past its first hour. The nurses whispered to each other as I lay on the table. When I asked, they said the PICC line hit a wrinkle in my vein, bending up instead of sliding through. I said I’d meditate on the vein. The line slid into place. The nurse told Decker she reported this and suggested patient meditation be included in the procedure manual.
The second time came well into chemo treatment. My blood was so low the oncologist scheduled a transfusion, which would’ve delayed treatment a week. They said blood counts don’t recover from that strong chemo. I asked for time to use my Inner Healer, named Terry Gold, and then had another blood test. My count was up. The treatment went as scheduled.
The variation Amy and her co-researchers add to this interrelationship of minds and bodies is that body postures affect feelings of power. The (unfortunate in my opinion) name Amy has given this is power poses.
I have other thoughts on overuses, misuses, and abuses of power. That aggressive people could affect poses to infuse themselves with more power is indeed scary. However, the idea that even a few minutes of standing or sitting in a certain pose can change an interaction and how minds function also has positive applications. It would be great to have this information in the right hands.
Bullies are news again, damn it
What, I wonder, would be the effect of teaching the victims how to think, and stand, and sit in order to stand up against their bullies? Bullies seem to know this instinctively and don’t need more power. They’re getting power over their victims already. (I wonder in what poses they stand and sit? Now there’s a research project begging to be undertaken.) Others could sure use some help in feeling more inner power. Could bystanders be empowered to stand up to the bullies?
The body healing the mind has opened up new ideas for how I can stay in remission, the ways I can help my clients, and where I can improve my relationships with others. My conflict coaching clients stand (pun intended) to benefit when I suggest they observe how they and the other person stand and sit alone or in relation to each other, both in calm times, and when locked in conflict with each other.
Another tool is distancing self-talk
Thinking of myself with impersonal pronouns, third rather than first-person, gives self-confidence and improves performance. For example, if I think: Deborah is going to do well at this, or think: she (meaning me) will do well at this, and I will fare better than if I think: I’ll do well at this.
Look for me to take a stand of power against my personal bully – triple negative breast cancer recurrence – on those (now rarer) occasions I’m tired and thinking bleak thoughts about my long-term survivorship. I’ve added body over mind poses and distancing self-talk with impersonal pronouns to my toolkit of Inner Healer and mind over body strategies.