Tracy Lee Karner

Posture Check–Act like you're Confident

Tracy Lee Karner

Putting on good posture is like dressing up for an event, it elevates my mood and raises my hope.
By adopting the posture of a dancer, I can trick my mind  into believing I couldn’t possibly, really be in very much pain.

Don’t slouch! (I tell myself). But..(my body retorts)…a full fetal position would be comforting and protective right now. My shoulders instinctively hunch forward and my arms wrap around me (like I’m freezing) whenever I’m in pain, which is frequent enough that my body has developed the habit of slouching.So, at least a couple times every day, I have to consciously run through a posture drill. I’m the sergeant, my body is the troops, and it’s my job to teach the squad strength, endurance and instill confidence. Company–obey! 

  • neutral spine (don’t tuck the pelvis, and don’t over-arch)
  • long neck (head back with chin slightly tucked)
  • chest up, shoulders un-hunched and down
  • wings down (shoulder-blades, actually, but calling them wings allows me to pretend I’m angelic and powerful, which is fun!)
  • scoop (draw the belly button in and up, as if squeezing into tight jeans)
  • and remember to breathe.
Buck up little soldier, I tell my body–and act as if you can take the pain. Be strong; be proud; be faithful; and relax…
The result is that people often say to me, “but you don’t look like you’re in pain.”
I won’t pretend this pretense is always easy. It takes tremendous effort and focus to sit, stand and walk as if I’m perfectly healthy, when I don’t feel well.
Ordinarily, truth is not something I’m willing to compromise. So, shouldn’t I communicate the truth, with honest body language, about how I feel? Doesn’t faking my well-being make me a liar?
So, sometimes I’m not being transparent. It just doesn’t do me any good to glance in the mirror and see myself looking pathetic; nor is it good for me when people are worried that I’m on the verge of a physical breakdown–and it’s stressful for them, especially since they can’t fix the problem; they can’t take away my fibromyalgia.
Here’s the truth: I’m doing my best to look, live, feel and be healthy. 

The way we hold our bodies (clenched or relaxed, upright or stooped) signals feelings of power or defeat, anger or contentment. Emotions effect the way the body moves.
I’ve discovered that the reverse is also true–smiling can make me feel happier, standing upright can make me feel more confident and attractive. 
By the way, actors and dancers are not always as confident as they appear to be–sometimes they’re just good impersonators.
There are days when I’m not feeling anywhere near as well as I manage to make myself look. But, I’m not entirely a faker.
Yes, sometimes I’m merely putting on the qualities I admire and want to possess–cheerfulness, optimism, confidence.
But through practice–by trying on and trying out the habits of good posture and a cheerful disposition–those attributes have become the honest-to-goodness me.  
Most of us need some help in learning proper body mechanics and ergonomic habits. I wanted to make sure I was getting good advice, so I saw a physiatrist (an M.D.) To consider what a physiatrist might do for you, go here.