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7 Ways Successful People Regain Their Self-Confidence After Major Setbacks

7 Ways Successful People Regain Their Self-Confidence After Major Setbacks

We are all sensitive souls. No matter how successful or talented we are, an unexpected setback can directly impact our self-confidence. When things have been going well and then suddenly take a turn for the worse, rebounding can take some concerted effort.

Successful people understand this and deploy impressive tactics to bounce back after huge setbacks and rebuild their self-confidence.

1. They reaffirm themselves

One thing most successful people know is that failure happens to the best of us. It’s nothing personal. If you haven’t failed at something before, it means you’ve never tried anything. Just because you failed doesn’t mean that you are a failure. Successful people visualize their desired situation and reaffirm that their dreams and goals are credible. When the momentary negative feelings of “I can’t do it” arise, they assert: “Yes I can.”

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By using this strategy consciously and intently, they influence their subconscious mind, bringing it back to center, transforming their behavior, and reshaping their attitude and reactions. After all, there’s a lot of truth in the words, “Who you are inside is what helps you make and do everything in life.”

2. They take a break and do other activities that they enjoy

Successful people often take some time out to de-stress after major setbacks. This gives them a reprieve from the failure, soothes their ego, stirs their creativity, and helps them get a sense for what truly matters in life. They surround themselves with positive, supportive people and make time for simple pleasures like fishing, reading, organizing charities, or just hanging out with their family.

Bill Gates and Arianna Huffington are among the many successful people who love to unplug from technology and read a book. They say it helps them unwind and take the edge off after a particularly busy or stressful day. Bungled attempts, lost business, and negative feedback seem to have less of a toll after this.

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3. They reflect on their past successes and failures

Successful people like to reflect not only on their success stories, but also on their failures. That’s because both bring learning opportunities. By reflecting on these experiences, you become much more aware of your strengths and weaknesses. You become conscious of your personal quirks, your blind spots, and are better able to explain your insecurities — informing your best course of action going forward.

Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first TV job as an anchor in Baltimore. While reflecting on her experience, she came to the conclusion that she needed to create her own TV channel, which paid off magnificently. Today, she is a household name and a self-made billionaire in the media industry.

4. They forgive themselves

A growing body of research, including new studies by Berkeley’s Juliana Breines and Serena Chen, suggests that the ability to forgive yourself and learn from your mistakes is the key driver of success. Many successful people know this and practice self compassion. They don’t beat themselves up too much after making a mistake. That’s because they know that being too harsh on yourself does nothing but dent your confidence further and make it harder for you to bounce back to winning ways.

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Truly successful people learn and move on precisely because they know how to forgive themselves first. It’s just as bad to be mean to yourself as it is to be mean to others. The moment you realize this and learn to forgive yourself is the moment you give yourself permission to rise again and make things happen.

5. They manage their self doubt

When successful people make a mistake or suffer a major setback, they analyze what they are feeling and frame strong arguments to tame negative self-talk and doubt. Many write down their fears and concerns as clearly and succinctly as possible and challenge them calmly and rationally. If their worries and doubts dissolve under scrutiny, that’s great. However, if the worries are based on genuine risks, they set additional measures to manage these appropriately.

There’s something about this approach that boosts confidence and makes the worst of setbacks seem surmountable. It was Confucius who observed that, “Those who think they can and those who think they can’t are both usually right.” As you think, so shall you become.

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6. They re-create their approach

Insanity is defined as trying the same thing again and again but expecting different results every time. Successful people know better than that. They constantly recreate their approach and deploy new ways of doing things based on what they’ve learned in the past. This means the best, clearly-thought out plan, solution, program, or system possible to boost confidence and propel them to success.

Thomas Edison would not have become one of America’s most renowned inventors were it not for his exemplary attitude toward failure, unwavering persistence, and willingness to recreate and try new ways to achieve his goals. He is famously quoted saying, “I have not failed; I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” That was the secret to his success as a standout inventor and businessman who developed many life-changing devices, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb.

7. They get back up on their feet and commit themselves to success

After all is said and done, successful people get back up on their feet and continue with the journey. They don’t stay down. They might start over a bit more cautiously after huge setbacks, but they start. Then, they accelerate towards success as their confidence is reborn. The simple act of starting and making small, steady steps forward, armed with lessons learned from past setbacks, rebuilds and rejuvenates their self belief. They eventually begin to stretch themselves, make the goals a little bit bigger along the way.

Musical artist Bob Marley was shot in his own hometown two days before a major public performance. What did he do? He defiantly walked out on stage anyway. His reason for doing so was simple, yet powerful: “The people who are trying to make the world worse never take a day off. Why should I?”

That was arguably the point at which he became a legend. Every step you take after a huge setback is a testament to your resolve. Every win is a reward for your commitment.

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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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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