How the Superman Pose Can Empower Us All

Photo Credits: Dorin Vasilescu, Apuan Alps, Italy

I lifted my chin, placed my fists on my hips, spread my legs, and stood firmly watching the menacing clouds gathering high in the sky.

The first time I used the “superhero pose,” I was on a mountain ridge, 2300 meters high. The more I advanced, the more the ridge resembled a tightrope, and I didn’t have the skills of an acrobat. My mind rambled. Instead of breathing in the spectacular view and draw courage from it or be inspired, my chest was pounding, and I kept envisioning my lifeless body lifted in the air by a rescue helicopter. I was failing.

All my tricks of laughing in the face of danger, singing to distract myself, focusing on the task in front of me were all played out and unsuccessful. Nevermind dancing; that would have helped fulfill the helicopter fantasy sooner. To complete my horror show, stormy clouds were gathering in the distance bringing their thunders’ rumbling closer by the minute.

I placed my backpack in the middle of the narrow path, sat in front of it, and closed my eyes. From an outside perspective, I must have looked like a toddler, refusing to move until my wish was granted.

It was time to invent new tricks.

I thought about the hedgehog that scared me senseless a few hours before in the forest I had left behind. My loud laughter, after I tripped and fell over a log, trying to escape the unknown creature crawling from under the bed of leaves, scared the poor animal in return and made it turn into a ball of spikes. I remembered the hiker who had advised me to join him at the mountain shelter that night because of the approaching storm. He doesn’t know me, I said to myself. He doesn’t know how determined I am. Oh, yeah, I felt like a misunderstood superhero that day. It was me against the forces of nature, and clearly, I was winning. Then I remembered — the superhero pose.

Facing the new, the unknown, the unpredictable can disrupt our instincts’ voice.

As a ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ freak, I had watched, a few weeks before, one of the surgeons on the show using the superhero pose before removing an impossible brain tumor. The stance itself and the explanation behind it made me curious to research more. Among many articles, I found a Harvard Study Paper, “The Benefit of Power Posing Before a High-Stakes Social Evaluation,” which reinforced the idea that not only did open postures reflect high power, they also produce it. It was time to put this theory to the test.

I lifted my chin, placed my fists on my hips, spread my legs, and stood firmly watching the menacing clouds approaching. I allowed my mind to carry me on the imagined paths of my doom until finally, my breathing relaxed, my eyes became focused, and my confidence levels received a much-needed boost. The first raindrops were making their way down on my cheeks, but to my astonishment, the pose worked! A few hours later, I was off the mountain, a few bruises and scratches to tell my story, a comfortable bed to hug my hard-worked muscles and limbs.

I’m sure I would have made it down the mountain that day without the pose. Standing like a superhero, pushing my chest forward, and lifting my chin high, merely gave me the confidence to climb down while trusting my instincts without becoming overwhelmed with fear. The pose is not meant to turn you into a superhero; it’s meant to make you feel like one. It places you in a position of power.

Since then, I used the stance on many of my hiking adventures but also in social circumstances. As a writer, some of my best stories have been crafted right after I glared at the stars with my fists firmly pressing my hips. Facing the new, the unknown, the unpredictable in any situation can disrupt our instincts’ voice, and what better way to ground ourselves than standing tall and gazing at the sky. Although you may feel silly at first, and even giggle at the ridiculousness of it, the worst result you could possibly achieve is a dumb smile on your face.

Story Hunter translated into a Writer, Editor, and Teacher;

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