When I was developing a chapter on the Psychology of Food for my book Good Decisions… Most of the Time, I found an interesting article about how depressed individuals can smile their way out of their sadness. Hard to believe, right? Psychologists and philosophers call it “Embodied Cognition.” I call it “Rad”! But does it really work?
“Embodied cognition” simply means that our bodies are not only receivers of information, but senders of information as well. We typically believe that our brain controls our actions, but it is likely that the reverse is also true, as our actions can affect our brains. For instance, if I am hunched over, not moving, and my breath is shallow, my body sends that information to my brain, which may interpret it as, “I must be depressed.” But if I smile, stand up straight, and move my body, my brain may will likely decipher this message in a more positive light.
When you keep doing the same thing over and over the brain responds accordingly. Whether you call it body language hacking, psyching yourself out, or as my friend calls it, “secreting”, it works! Haven’t you ever faked a few smiles and then suddenly found yourself to be in a better mood? If you want something in life, why not choose to move through the world triumphantly, even if you may not feel that way at first. The term, “fake it till you make it” takes on a whole new meaning when you can actually change your whole way of being and thinking through the simple repetitive actions that you take. Talk about a body-mind connection! Ultimately, we can use this information to change our emotions and bring about new, more positive behaviors, especially when it comes to eating.
Attack of the Mighty Chocolate Mousse!
One of the biggest complaints I get as a nutritional therapist is that people feel out of control around food. So many of us feel powerless when it comes to what we put into our mouths. We say we won’t have dessert, and then five minutes later we can’t stop ourselves from diving into chocolate mousse like a bomber aircraft. Rather than changing our actions, we choose to sulk in the shameful emotions that happen as a result. Why not flip the script? “Fake” a different behavior and see what happens.
Consider for a moment… what if instead of feeling powerless in front of food, you take a risk and fake your confidence and capability? What if you pretend that you have all the power in the world to say, “NO!” in the face of dessert? What if you take a stance like a confident superhero, put your body into a position that clearly conveys control, and pretend that your cape is flapping in the wind behind you while you take on the world? Yes, I sound crazy, I know! But in all honesty, sometimes stepping away from a measly little dessert can seriously feel like taking on the world’s most threatening villain, right? Fake super-power skills could serve you well. So tap into your inner child and fight off the bad guy like you mean it!
So tell us… what behaviors are you going to change? What kind of new “you” are you going to embody? What are you truly capable of? Start small but think BIG!