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7 Life Barriers People Overcome to be Successful

7 Life Barriers People Overcome to be Successful

Becoming a success isn’t something that happens by accident, chance, or luck. The Mark Zuckerbergs and Michael Jordans of the world have the same 24 hours in a day that we all have, and they face some of the same barriers that we face on a daily basis.

The difference lies in how they utilize their time, and how they maneuver past these barriers without wasting a single moment. Some of the most successful people of our time have had to deal with:

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1. Age Discrimination

There’s this misconception in society that 20-year-olds are too young to know enough about the world to succeed, and anyone over 60 is too old to be considered in touch with the realities of the modern world. Though neither stereotype is necessarily true, people in those age ranges have to accept the existence of these beliefs and work hard to ensure their age doesn’t define them. Young adults can do this by bringing unique perspectives to the table rather than regurgitating what their college professors droned on about for hours. Older people can find success by being keeping up with contemporary changes in the way work is done throughout the world. In fighting against age discrimination, you can show the naysayers that you’re worthy of a challenge, regardless of your age.

2. What others think

If you want to be successful, you can’t take what others say personally. As a writer, I’ve had to change my habit of seeing criticism in a negative sense, and realizing I can take negative comments and use them to improve my future work. It’s not so much that I stopped caring altogether what others have to say, but that I started looking past criticism to see constructive feedback. Along with this, you can’t compare yourself to other people. The only person you should compare yourself to is the person you were yesterday; as long as you’ve made some sort of improvement on your former self, you’re on the path to success.

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3. Toxic people

Some people don’t want to see you succeed, because then they’ll feel inadequate themselves. These people need to be dropped from your life before too much damage is done. There’s a saying: “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” In other words, you should surround yourself with other like-minded people who thrive on success, and who continuously look for ways to improve their lives. By doing so, you’ll want to push yourself to be a better person as well. Hanging out with complacent people will only lead you to a dead-end road in life.

4. Fear

Some people have a hard time overcoming fear. Fear of failure, fear of being made a fool of, fear of being laughed at. First of all, fear is all in your head. Yes, in middle school your classmates might have laughed at you if you fumbled with your note cards during a speech, but they were 12. The truth is, no strangers care enough about you in the real world to put effort into embarrassing you. In fact, that you’re fearful of what others think simply shows you’re passionate enough to push past the fear and get your ideas out there. And as for a fear of failure: everybody fails. Successful people fail all the time, but they don’t give up. They use their failures as a learning tool and as a springboard to success.

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5. Negativity

Negativity is a combination of being surrounded by toxic people and being afraid of failure. The toxic people won’t share your enthusiasm for an idea, and will bring you down from your motivational high. Being afraid of not performing well will stop you from doing your best at every given moment. Combined, these two powerhouses of negativity add up to a gigantic waste of your time and energy. Don’t dwell on what could go wrong; imagine how incredible your life will be if everything goes right.

6. Dwelling on the past and future

Dwelling on the past is called guilt. Dwelling on the future is called anxiety. Again, both of these are a major waste of time. You can’t go back in time, so there’s no point in dwelling on past mistakes. Yes, you should always learn from mistakes you’ve made in the past, and work your hardest to avoid making them in the future, but that’s about all you can do. Dwelling on the future, on the other hand, is a self-fulfilling prophecy: If you spend all of your time worrying about failing in the future rather than preparing for that same future, you’ll (obviously) be unprepared when the future becomes the present, and you will most likely fail. For example, just imagine a high school student staying up all night worried about failing an exam. In doing so, he actually makes it likely he will fail his exam because he was exhausted from being up through the night.

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7. The state of the world

You’ve probably heard the Serenity Prayer:

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”
Yes, there are a ton of things going wrong in the world today, but there’s no sense in letting these events get you so down that you fail to improve your own life. There will certainly be things in your life you’ll wish you could change but you are unable to. Let these things go, and focus on what you can do to make the world a better place. Even if it’s something small in your community, you’ll still be doing your part to improve some aspect of the world you live in. By doing so, you’ll also be improving your own life.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm8.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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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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