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5 Ways to Overcome the Voice in Your Head

5 Ways to Overcome the Voice in Your Head

Your ego is the voice in your head that tells us we aren’t good enough, smart enough or pretty enough. If we allow ourselves to listen to it, it can seriously affect the way we live and love. Despite how often or how loud the voice in your head may be, you are the one in control. The ego doesn’t control you, unless you let it. You might spiral down a rabbit hole so deep, you don’t know how to crawl yourself back out.

Here are five ways to tell your ego, you are the one running the show:

1. Say thank you.

By thanking the voice in your head, you aren’t fuelling its fire. The more loving kindness you give to the ego, the more it begins to dissolve. You can thank the ego and let it know, you are taking it from here. The more you try to fight the ego by telling it to ‘shut up’ or ‘piss off,’ the louder the voice becomes.

2. Tell the voice in your head you are good enough.

The ego can lead you to believe that you aren’t capable of doing the things you want to do. You might compare yourself to other people, which never ends well. All human beings have a need for significance, but it has to come from the inside out. You can’t solely rely on other people to make you feel good about yourself. Tell the ego that you matter and believe it, because you do.

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3. Let the ego know, you’ve already done this.

Reminding the voice in your head of the things you’ve already achieved, overcame or accomplished allows you to shift your attention to the positive outcomes you’ve already experienced. The ego can’t doubt you if it knows you’ve already prevailed in the face of adversity.

4. Make sure the voice in your head understands you are comfortable with the uncomfortable.

The ego wants to keep you safe. It leads you to believe your ‘comfort zone’ is where you want to be, when you really just want to break free from the feelings of mundanity. Once you let the voice inside your head know you embrace uncertainty, it has no choice but to step down.

5. Understand the importance of feedback, so your ego does too.

Failure and feedback are one-in-the-same. When you don’t achieve the outcome you hoped for, you gain feedback based on your experience. You can learn from this, and change how you approach future opportunities or challenges. Challenges evoke growth and change. Let the ego know you need to fail in order to grow and succeed.  Some of the greatest achievers of our time had to fail hundreds of times. Here are some inspirational words about failure from basketball legend, Michael Jordan:

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.
Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.

I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.

I can accept failure, but I can’t accept not trying.

Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.
You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.

If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome.

I play to win, whether during practice or a real game. And I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win.

My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.”

The more you compare yourself to others, think about what you don’t have, fear failure or wish you were someone else, the bigger and louder your ego becomes. You are not the voice in your head. In the words of Eckhart Tolle, author of A New Earth and The Power of Now:

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“Boredom, anger, sadness, or fear are not ‘yours,’ not personal.

They are conditions of the human mind.

They come and go.

Nothing that comes and goes is you.”

Featured photo credit: nellie mckay:identity theft via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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