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10 Thoughts Preventing You From Leaving Your Comfort Zone

10 Thoughts Preventing You From Leaving Your Comfort Zone

Whether you believe it or not, the ability to intentionally leave your comfort zone to achieve long-term goals is what separates the outstanding people from the average crowd.

Imagine two circles that aren’t connected with each other in any way. The one is small and normal, and the second one significantly bigger and superior. The first circle represents the comfortable life full of relaxing, browsing the Internet, lying all day in bed on the weekends and consuming countless amounts of your favorite chocolate. It’s the symbol of a life spent in the comfort zone. On the first glance, it may seem rainbows and unicorns, but in reality, it’s a circle which guarantees you nothing but regrets.

Then there’s the second circle: filled with unknown territory that waits to be discovered, big dreams which need you to make them become a reality and rewards so fulfilling that you’d never trade them for sweets and television. This is what life spent out of your comfort zone looks like. Such a lifestyle tests your willpower and discipline on a regular basis. Every new day is a new challenge. However, the prize for being brave and committed is huge and worth the effort.

To take a quantum leap forward, you need to determine and eradicate the negative thoughts which discourage you from leaving the comfort zone for good. Here’s a list of 10 that are most common and dangerous.

1. “I don’t really have to do this.”

If there’s no one else who’d push you to do something, it’s very tough to stay motivated when you want to give up. Suddenly, your mind begins bombarding you with reasons to abandon your goal and do something pleasurable, as “you don’t have to struggle anyway”. This thought is typical and I experienced it way too many times. I even believed in it and gave up on my commitments as well. However, the more I felt the bitter taste of failure, the more I realized how fictional and made up this urge is.

In reality, you have to do this and there’s no doubt about it. Whatever your goal is, you can’t give up on it based on the emotions that arrive during the hard times. Once this dangerous reflection comes to your mind, remind yourself about this article and my advice. When your brain spares no effort to convince you to give up so you can feel better instantly, you know that you’ll feel even worse afterward.

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2. “I’ll start tomorrow.”

Sometimes, it’s the best thing you can do. However, it only works if you actually start tomorrow. The real problem is, most people don’t and tomorrow never comes.Tomorrow becomes some unknown date in the future, the magic time when you feel ready and prepared.

Let’s say you want to start running regularly and you decide to begin tomorrow. If you determine exactly when you’ll have your workout session, tell yourself why you’ll do this and even put your running clothes somewhere visible, then you are very likely to stick to your words.

However, if you just fool yourself that you’ll begin tomorrow only because right now you feel like watching funny Youtube videos, then that’s a straight way to a never-ending procrastination.

3. “Right now is not the perfect moment.”

I wanted to start a self-improvement blog for a very long time, but I didn’t feel like starting now was a good idea. Instead, I’d keep convincing myself that in a few months I’ll be ready to start like a pro. Once a few months went by, I’d come up with another excuse why waiting one more month is better than starting today.

As you can probably imagine, it’s a vicious circle. If you adopt such a mindset, you’ll never get started. Once my frustration reached the boiling point, I just immediately did what I couldn’t do for months and within a few hours my site was live. I finally decided to ignore the excuses and step out the comfort zone. To tell the truth, it’s the only decision you won’t regret. Everything else brings regrets and makes you wonder: “what would happen if I tried…”

4. “I’ll begin once I have more _____.“

Personally, “more time” seems to be my brain’s favorite excuse. When it comes to doing something uncomfortable that we’ve been thinking about forever, there’s always something to keep us busy and distracted. In reality, however, that very thing won’t make any significant difference in your life, but you keep using it as an easy excuse. It’s just comfortable.

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Whenever you realize that you use this excuse, be aware that in most cases, we already have all we need to get started. If you don’t work hard toward creating a better environment to start, I promise you it won’t happen by itself or accident.

5. “If I only had _____, I would surely succeed.”

Another stupid thought that prevents countless people from succeeding in life is thinking something will eventually come along that leads to sure success. What really works is relying on internal factors to better yourself.

Sure, some people are better off than others, but the most crucial elements are taking action and staying persistent even when you don’t see the results right off the bat.It’s the internal factors that matter the most. All the external ones are just the nice additions but aren’t required.

6. “I’m not good enough to even get started.”

Nowadays we are bombarded with the highlights of other people lives. Whether it’s advertising and highly photoshopped banners, Instagram or Facebook profiles or video blogs, most of the information shared is just the tip of the iceberg. Usually, the ugly truth is hidden, so you feel like the only one experiencing the downs of life.

As a result, you end up feeling inadequate. If you don’t feel good enough, it’s tough to release that inner willpower and strength which embrace leaving your comfort zone. So now, let me tell you the harsh truth. Most of the people feel insecure, have self-doubts and experience the moments when they think giving up is the only solution. It is highly likely that their social media does not tell the whole story.

It just the way your brain tries to fool you. Ignore it, because you are already good enough. And if you’re not, fake it until you make it!

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7. “This is the last time I procrastinate!”

Each time you make an exception, you automatically make the next attempt more challenging. Over time, your mind will make a bad habit of procrastinating at all cost and it will become a real struggle to stick to any of your commitments. You need to realize it’s the hardest moments and how you react once they happen that will either make or break you. If you can bite the bullet and just take action, this fact alone will make future attempts much easier.

One study showed that the people who were confronted with continued mental challenge improved the most. The group that faced the most uncomfortable tasks was the one with greatest results. The psychological scientist Denise Park gets to the point of the research and its clear message: “When you are inside your comfort zone you may be outside of the enhancement zone.”

8. “Today I’ll have fun, but tomorrow I’ll focus on my goals!”

This can actually work, but only if you modify the sentence: right now I’ll work toward my goals so that at the end of the day I can feel satisfied and fulfilled. If you make pleasure the first priority, it’s insanely hard to stop and get to the uncomfortable activities.

Getting pleasant things without working for them in the first place is the essence of staying in the comfort zone. If you go this route, over time another bad habit will take roots. Fortunately, you can make it work in your favor and do it in reverse order.

Let’s take dieting as an example. If you keep a healthy diet during the week, don’t overeat and make sure to consume only high-quality foods in reasonable amounts, then there’s nothing wrong allowing yourself a cheat meal or even a cheat day (if you don’t tend to go overboard). Basically, you get out of your comfort zone to keep track of your meals. Doing this, you simply earn yourself a cheat meal. Believe me, when it’s earned, it tastes much better!

9. “I don’t know how!”

If you don’t, that’s completely understandable. Most of the experts were newbies at first. Knowing something isn’t a result of talent or magic, it’s the consequence of work and constant improvement. In today’s world full of information available immediately and for free, you just can’t say you don’t know how to get started and then give up.

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As I’m writing this article, there are already more than 2 000 000 blog posts written today. Furthermore, almost 1 500 000 books were published in 2015 alone. Not to count countless hours of educational material published on Youtube and similar sites. Simply put, there are at least a few free ways to learn a solution to whatever problem you have.You can learn anything that you put your mind to.

10. “You only live once and life is meant to be enjoyed!”

If there’s one thing I’m sure of is that true contentment and pleasure can only be found within the discomfort zone. You don’t achieve true happiness and fulfillment right away. It’s too precious to happen to anyone at any time. What you need to do first is embrace the chaos so that eventually you come to the peace.

Staying within your comfort zone seems enjoyable on the surface and that’s why most of the people never leave that perilous area. However, once you step into the unknown and do something you never did before, you realize you’ve been off base with that assumption. It seems that staying within your comfort zone means not risking anything. In reality, however, you risk the invaluable resource which time is. You risk wasting your whole life and missing out on the incredible taste of outstanding achievement. Please, don’t do it to yourself.

Featured photo credit: Helmuts Guigo via flickr.com

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Oskar Nowik

Oskar is a blogger and the author of "Brightening: The Positive Attitude That Will Change Your Life"

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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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