I first started blogging back in 2007, before I got published, and I used talk about my life. My family. Trying to fit writing into all my obligations. And then I got published, and the blogging slowed, and when I did, it was all writing related. But I was watching an old episode of Grey’s Anatomy the other night (re-watching it actually), and learned something from it that I wanted to share.
It was a scene where Amelia Shepherd who is a neurologist is about to do brain surgery to remove a huge tumor. Just before she enters the surgical theatre, she stands in what she refers to as a superhero pose — back straight, hands in fists on her hips, shoulders square, head up. And she says that there was a scientific study showing that if you held the pose for two minutes, you’d do significantly better in job interviews or stressful situations.
(The video is dark, but it gives you the idea.)
As a writer, and as a former nursing student way back in the 70s, I call foul on some situations that are shown on television, but I wondered if there was something to this particular pose. So I googled it, and found that a nurse had wondered the same thing, and he found it was based on an actual study by social psychologist Amy Cuddy.
But yes, the superhero pose was tested (although Amy called it the Wonder Woman pose). They brought test subjects and had them hold high and low power poses for two minutes, testing their saliva both before and after they held the pose. They learned that when you’ve held the “superhero” pose or one of the other high power poses, your levels of testosterone go up, (the dominance hormone), and your cortisol (the stress hormone) goes down. If you fold into yourself, the opposite is true.
It’s a fascinating talk — the whole thing is 20 minutes long, but it’s worth the time, and it may get you looking at what message you’re giving to people around you. And how you react to their body language. (And if you’re a writer, you can transfer that into your characters’ body language too.)
So next time you’re facing a stressful situation, hold the superhero pose. Be a superhero.