This post was updated on May 10, 2013 at 7:00pm.
If you’ve ever walked through the world feeling powerful and confident, you know that power and confidence can be felt in the body. Like the endorphin rush of exercise, they buoy you. If you grew up with that feeling, and sustained it into adulthood, you may take the feeling for granted, may not even know it’s there. That is, until it’s gone.
My hope for you, of course is, that your experiences with the loss of power will be of the mundane variety, like the mild anxiety before giving a big speech, or going on an important job interview, or arriving at an event where you don’t know anyone, but want to make a strong impression.
The social psychologist and Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, known for her research on non-verbal communication, stereotyping and discrimination, emotions, power, and the effects of social stimuli on hormone levels, suffered a much greater loss of power following a brain injury, sustained in a car accident when she was 19. I experienced a similar loss of power when all of a sudden, at the height of success in my budding screenwriting career, I found myself significantly cognitively impaired. Which is why I hung on Cuddy’s every word when I first heard her TED Talk on body language and found there the answers I’d been looking for for over 10 years. I’d wanted to know how I could regain the unwavering sense of power and confidence I’d had, then lost and been unable to fully regain.