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15 Important Life Lessons For Women

15 Important Life Lessons For Women

Growing up is tough. I still remember sitting in my college dorm and realizing that I actually had to go to the store to buy toothpaste and toilet paper. When I lived with my parents, it seemed that these and many other household items just magically repopulated. Little did I know that buying toiletries was going to be the least of my worries in years to come.

As women, we face particularly unique hurdles in life. We are lucky to have incredible examples of successful and thriving women around us, but it can be easy to let the inspiration from these women sit stagnant. Don’t let that happen to you. Let go of your fear; branch out and try something new.

As you look through this list of life lessons for women, find something that excites you, or even scares you, and then go for it!

1. You Must Be Your Own Advocate

“Young women, unlike our male counterparts, generally have too few people in our spheres that will advocate for us.” – Shelly Porges, of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards.

In your career, in your romantic relationships, in your friendships, and in your personal life you should understand what you want, what you don’t want, and what you need. Be prepared to fight for what you need. As far as what you want and don’t want, draw a line as to how far you’re willing to compromise.

For example, it’s easy to get frustrated and upset that women make 78 cents for every dollar that men make. But when is the last time you asked for a raise or even negotiated your starting pay? Sometimes advocating for yourself means having an uncomfortable conversation or dealing with conflict. Don’t be afraid to put on your big girl panties and do what you need to be your own advocate.

Besides, if you don’t fight for yourself who will?

2. You Need to Embrace a Healthful Lifestyle

“To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” – Buddha

You’ve got one body and one mind – it’s time to start taking care of them. Establishing healthy habits now is not only going to benefit your current life, but will also be an investment in your future.

Start drinking more responsibly, washing your face every night, moisturizing every day, putting sunscreen on before you leave the house, getting enough sleep every night, reading a book before you go to bed rather than scrolling through social media, or enrolling in a class that you find intriguing a few times a year. Find any way you can to minimize stress and maximize happiness in your day-to day-life.This list may be overwhelming, but if you just take one small habit and work on it for a month, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to incorporate new habits.

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And remember: When setting goals, it’s important to find that balance between improving your physical well being and your mental well being.

3. You Can Be Assertive AND Feminine

“We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.” – Margaret Atwood

It’s so easy to think that you are allowed to be either assertive or feminine. These two traits are not mutually exclusive! Define what femininity means for you and don’t be afraid to incorporate those manifestations in every aspect of your life. Just because you’re a manager at work doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to be feminine and just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you can’t be assertive. This balance can be hard for women to master.

Establishing this balance takes time, but being aware of changes that you can make will ensure that you are authentic in all of your interactions.

4. Gossip Isn’t Good for Anyone

“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Ladies, we are all in this together. Gossiping is an incredibly hard habit to break, but STOP! Fill your life with enough meaning that you don’t need to talk about someone else’s life to entertain yourself. There’s enough gossip about women in our world already. Be the type of woman that chooses to lift other women up, not tear them down. Although this means that you don’t participate in some conversations (or even feel a little out of the loop), being known as a woman that helps other women is far more beneficial in the long run.

Karma will do her job.

5. Courage Means Asking for Help

“You are never strong enough that you don’t need help.” – Cesar Chavez

We all need a little help sometimes. Asking for help shouldn’t become habitual, but it is important to understand when it is necessary. Don’t be afraid to ask for the help that you need!

6. Life Goes On

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” – John Lennon

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Sometimes life feels overwhelming. To keep perspective during these times is extremely important. Whether you are faced with a task that feels insurmountable, grief that feels overwhelming, a decision that feels impossible, or a future that feels terrifying, it is important to remember that life goes on. Struggling is a part of the journey. As difficult as these parts of the journey are, it is important to embrace them.

Embracing the difficult times will help you enjoy the best times.

7. Self-Sufficiency Is Necessary

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face…we must do that which we think we cannot.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

The confidence that comes from being self-sufficient will carry you through the hardest time of your life. It’s tempting to let your parents take care of you until you find a partner. But even if this is a realistic option in your life, don’t do it!

Knowing that you can take care of yourself is invaluable. When supporting yourself you’ll find that you are more judicious about your bills. Rather than automatically renewing your car insurance you may want to shop around. It may be time to start buying some of your makeup at the drugstore. And planning a staycation may have more appeal than an intricate vacation.

Assess your current financial state, look for any dependencies that exist, and do what you can to start ensuring you are self-sufficient. Being emotionally self-sufficient is just as important as being financially self-sufficient. If you feel that you need a partner to be happy, take some time to step back and figure out how you can become more independent. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to break up with your current partner, but take small steps to establish habits that will give you the confidence that you need to thrive on your own.

8. You Can’t Please Everyone

“Let me listen to me and not to them.” – Gertrude Stein

As women, we have a tendency to try and make everyone happy. Sometimes people are going to be upset with you – and that’s okay. Trying to please everyone is exhausting and often provides poor results. Most often, by trying to please everyone you end up making a lot more people unhappy. Mastering the art of saying ‘no’ tactfully, being honest with others about how you feel, and understanding that it’s necessary to have uncomfortable conversations are all important skills to master.

Learning early on that you cannot please everyone will enable you to avoid a lot of stress in the long run.

9. Self-Compassion Is Invaluable

“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.” – Malcom S. Forbes

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Be kind to yourself. Don’t compare yourself to other women. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Do the best that you can do and let that be enough.

If that isn’t enough for someone, it may be time to remove that individual from your inner circles. The power of positive thinking will work wonders in your life!

10. Friendships Take Time

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” – Jane Austen

Making friends and maintaining friendships takes effort and time. It’s easy to be a good friend when convenient, but becomes much more difficult when it is inconvenient. Invest in a group of friends that you want to keep around for a long time. Schedule time to catch up with them, remember their birthdays, and be there for them when they need someone. Social ties have been shown to increase happiness levels and having people that you can count on is well worth the time that you invest.

As women it can be easy to have girlfriends when we are single and then forget about them as soon as we are in a relationship. Although your new relationship may be time consuming, be sure that you continue to reach out to your friends and keep those social ties strong.

11. Mother Knows Best

“A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.” – Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Whether it’s your mom or a ‘mom like’ figure in your life, be sure to listen up when they talk. It’s so easy to think that we ‘know better’ and that older women ‘just don’t understand’. Although they may not understand every single facet of the problem you are facing, their advice is worth listening to. If you choose to disregard their advice, you will probably find out the hard way that they were right.

Even if you don’t understand, it’s worth it to listen to and take the advice of your mom. More than likely, you will be happy that you did.

12. Obsessing About Men Won’t Get You Anywhere

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Create a life that you love and you will be able to attract partners into that life that are the type of partner you want long term. I know this is much easier said than done but it will be SO worth it. If you are continually evolving and becoming a better version of yourself, the odds that you will attract a better version of a potential partner will increase.

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Investing time and energy into an obsession about a future partner is a total waste of time – avoid it like the plague!

13. You’ll Make Mistakes

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.” – John Wooden

One of the best ways to learn is by making mistakes. Focusing on and striving for perfection will result in heartache and frustration. Do the best that you can and be gentle with yourself when you make a mistake. When you make a mistake, be willing to admit that and apologize if needed. Don’t apologize excessively; instead, take action.

Do what you need to do to fix the situation and move right along!

14. It Helps to Let Go of Stress

“Nothing is miserable unless you think it so; and on the other hand, nothing brings happiness unless you are content with it.” Boethius.

Do you stay up at night and worry about things that are out of your control? Are you stressed about potential problems in the future? Being stressed and worrying are survival skills that we need, but that are often abused in today’s world. If you are constantly stressed or constantly worried your body can experience negative symptoms. These symptoms will soon become extremely problematic and cause other health problems in the future.

Learn to manage your stress now. You may need to see a therapist, take some time for yourself, or start participating in stress relieving practices to ensure you can let go of unnecessary stress. It’s a lifelong pursuit.

15. We’re All in This Together

“The success of every single woman is the inspiration for another.” – Dianve Von Furtsenburg

Ladies, we are our own worst critics. Stop talking about the way your coworker dresses. Stop belittling other women to get a leg up. Start encouraging each other, start being a positive force in the lives of other women, and realize that we are all in this together. Remember: The more women out there that succeed, the better off we all are.

Take these lessons one at a time and learn to truly incorporate them into your life. Slowly but surely, you will start to see a positive difference.

Featured photo credit: Woman hair falling 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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