Let me ask you something. How do you feel when you walk in a crowded place? Do you feel small and embarrassed, wanting to stay away from the spotlight? Or maybe you walk with confidence and poise, carrying yourself chest up with dignity? Chances are that you have not even considered the image you project with your walk —and I don’t blame you. Most of us are not regularly reminded of our sloppy posture. Nevertheless, the way we carry ourselves says a lot about us, and it’s something we should be paying more attention to, not out of vanity but care for our physical and mental health.
The Invisible Language
I am spotlighting posture this week because we can’t help but display our mental and emotional baggage in the way we walk nowadays. Back hunched, chest collapsed, shoulders tilted forward, neck curved. It’s as if we are carrying an invisible backpack twice the size of our torso and four times the weight. Once you notice it, you can’t really unsee it.
Most of the issues I just mentioned are physical in nature and indicate atrophy or lack of strength and development in some areas of our bodies. However, they commonly reflect a fundamental problem with our self-esteem and confidence. Moreover, the influence of these aspects extend beyond our posture. Body language, speech manner, grooming patterns, all these aspects of our persona, the identity we communicate to other people, reflect our physical and mental health. And the message some are sending is, well, concerning.
Our body language is our natural second language and is denser in data than any other language in the world. The amount of information we can convey with subtle gestures and postures is substantial and, when in front of an expert, can make you feel naked. Of course, you might have heard the adage that 7% of communication is verbal and 93% is non-verbal —this turned out to be a misinterpretation of a study. Yet, it is unquestionable that if governments have operatives studying people’s body language all over the world, it must be because it works.
Beyond the subtle microexpressions in your face and the way you hold your hands, the tone of our voices and our speech patterns can say a lot about us. For example, do you project your voice clearly and confidently to others, or do you feel like your voice is brittle and gets drowned by other people who talk over you? Maybe that is something that you can be more mindful about next time you are around peers.
A Reflection from Within
Ultimately, I think how we carry ourselves reflects how we are doing within, and what we now see out there is a significant problem in our society that should be addressed. We are working more than we ever had in decades. Yet, we are in debt and living beyond our means. We are not taking care of our mental health, and all this is transparent in our bodies.
Additionally, people have been socialized to live their lives with a toxic and debilitating mindset. Our self-esteem has been under attack since we started developing it early on in our lives by forces outside of our control.
- The market has taught us to chase fleeting thrills and purchase our way to happiness.
- Society has driven us to overwork ourselves and sacrifice the present for a false promise of stability.
- The media has conditioned us to fear our neighbors and make false choices based on hate and misinformation.
- Social media has influenced us to idolize false representations of success and life only the 1% experience.
It is no surprise that people are incapable of building resilience and developing the character needed to work on themselves and gain confidence and positive self-esteem. How can we build dignity and pride when it has been beaten to a pulp since early in our lives?
Personally, I pride myself on having a good posture —Wendy certainly loves to boast about it for me. And I should, because I have worked hard to keep myself healthy and be mindful of my mental state. Beyond the countless visits to the gym and all the hours I have put into training, there is tremendous work on my mental and emotional hygiene. It was not easy or felt natural. I had to be uncomfortable and feel embarrassed and stupid. But it ultimately paid off to ask for help and work on myself.
Carry Yourself with Care
The bottom line is that we need to be more self-aware of how we carry ourselves and what we communicate with our bodies. Moreover, we need to pay attention to what our body is saying to us. If you develop chronic pain or start noticing some soreness in some part of your body, take care of it. Finally, please consider talking with a professional if you feel like some of the things that I shared resonate with you. Start with a friend you feel comfortable sharing with and ask what they perceive from how you carry yourself. Ask them to be as specific as possible.
I hope this reflection helps you be more aware of your inner language and allows you to find inner strength, be proud of yourself, and communicate to the world the beauty you possess inside.