Power objects, power postures, power clothes, power prayers: all ways to facilitate change (2nd post)
Last updated on 9th February 2018
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work" Thomas Edison
In yesterday's post - "Power objects, power postures, power clothes, power prayers: all ways to facilitate change (1st post)" - I introduced recent research highlighting how we can use physical objects and the way we position our bodies to significantly improve our chances of following through on new ways of thinking, feeling & behaving. In today's post I extend this discussion of ways to help ourselves change to what we wear and what we say to ourselves.
power clothes: Linking what I've written about "power objects" & "power postures" is some of the emerging research on how what we wear affects how we feel. The abstract of the paper "Enclothed cognition" (published this year) reads "We introduce the term "enclothed cognition" to describe the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer's psychological processes. We offer a potentially unifying framework to integrate past findings and capture the diverse impact that clothes can have on the wearer by proposing that enclothed cognition involves the co-occurrence of two independent factors - the symbolic meaning of the clothes and the physical experience of wearing them." See too the linked article "Put on your power!" with its remark "So, how can we use the enclothed cognition findings to our benefit? What kind of symbolic meaning does each article of clothing in your closet hold for you? Do your loafers remind you of a logical, erudite lawyer? Do your 4-inch high heels make you think of a confident woman walking down Wall Street? Does your leather bomber jacket make you think of a rebel? Perhaps you can choose to make the monotonous daily task of getting dressed more fun and work to your advantage. Try mindfully incorporating the findings discovered from the enclothed cognition experiments to intentionally shape your subjective psychological experience and performance each day, or on special days say, when you have a job interview, a date, or need to take a test. Here's one way to go about it: Upon waking up in the morning, take a moment to check-in with yourself and ask, "What do I want to feel like today?" Once you name the intended feeling state or adjective (e.g., friendly, fierce, confident, sexy, composed, loving, and so on), you're halfway there. Next, ask yourself, "What article(s) of clothing make me feel [fierce, confident, sexy, composed, loving ...]? What color(s) make me feel that way?" Once you've identified the article(s) of clothing that symbolizes the desired psychological state, march on over to your closet (no doubt, you'll have a new pep to your step) and pull out those pieces. If you're a girl, don't stop with just your clothes. Go all out: do your makeup, hair, and adorn yourself with the accessories that accurately match - for you - the desired feeling state that you chose." Mm ... I think I might go easy on the makeup and I have less hair to play with than I used to, but you get the point.
power prayers: Power "prayers" or power "phrases" are words we can use to inspire ourselves. This can involve many different effective formats - for example, writing for some minutes about chosen subjects can affect our feelings & behaviours for many weeks afterwards; having reminder cards we read can boost us as well; meditating or using imagery on particular themes can also be useful; as too can internally noting helpful words or phrases. Subjects can involve self-compassion, mindfulness, kindness & empathy for others, reminders/imagery of how we want to act, reconnecting to areas, strengths & values of particular personal importance, reframing & reappraisal, and so on. This is extensive territory, but I'll mention four areas in a little more detail. In the sequence of three posts beginning with "Therapeutic writing & speaking: inspiration from values", I describe how writing for 10 minutes or so about one of your most important values (e.g. kindness or courage or honesty or determination, etc) can really increase your stress resilience. Then in the post "Writing - positive pasts & best futures" I discuss the benefits of the "Best possible selves" exercise and the way that writing or speaking about this "ideal future self" can then be remembered repeatedly on a day-to-day basis. Thirdly, we know that encouraging ourselves to be self-compassionate can be helpful in many important ways. The two posts on "Boosting self-compassion & self-encouragement by strengthening attachment security: twelve practical suggestions" give a wealth of ideas, many of which link very well with these "power prayers" suggestions. Finally the classic territory explored in "Reappraising reappraisal" looks at many of the principles underlying the importance of encouraging ourselves see situations in more helpful ways.
And of course these ideas I have mentioned about "power objects, power postures, power clothes & power prayers" often work best if they are combined together in personally relevant, creative ways. Have fun!