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5 Steps You Should Take If You No Longer Want To Stay In Your Comfort Zone

5 Steps You Should Take If You No Longer Want To Stay In Your Comfort Zone

Do you want to get out of your comfort zone? Congratulations! That’s awesome. Stepping out of your comfort zone is where growth occurs. According to Neale Donald Walsch, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Staying in your comfort zone feels safe and secure. Getting out of it requires admitting we’re not satisfied, pushing past procrastination, setting goals, and learning new things. It requires us to break out of the invisible barrier that holds us back from reaching our full potential and living the life of our dreams.

Getting out of your comfort zone can feel risky, but I believe it’s a much bigger risk to do nothing. When you think ahead and picture your life years from now, and picture yourself at the same job, doing roughly the same weekly routine, year after year, are you happy? Does that make you super excited? Or does it fill you with dread? Is it exciting, or is it boring? If picturing your life ahead makes you feel stuck and frustrated, it’s time to shake things up.

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Here are 5 steps to take when you want to break free from your comfort zone.

1. Surround yourself with inspiring people

Who you hang out with greatly influences you. The people you surround yourself with can affect your habits, your attitude, and your willingness to step out of your comfort zone. One of my absolute most favorite quotes is by Jim Rohn, who says: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Want to skyrocket your progress toward your huge goals? Surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to do. Get out of your house and go connect with these people.

If you don’t know anyone in your personal life who is doing what you aspire to do, you’re still in luck. There are millions of online forums for people working toward achieving certain goals. There are thousands of books in your local bookstore you can read about inspiring people. The first step is learning and setting your goals!

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2. Challenge your body

Challenging yourself physically is one of the best ways to start getting out of your comfort zone. The confidence you gain by setting goals for yourself physically and then achieving them is amazing and can transfer into many other areas of your life. When you prove to yourself you really can lose the 30 extra pounds you’ve lugged around for years, or run that race, you’ll start realizing you truly can do awesome things.

Setting physical goals for yourself teaches you self-discipline, proves to yourself you can kick that procrastination habit, and helps you feel better about yourself. When you feel your best, you can be your best, and you’ll be more likely to step out of your comfort zone in other areas of your life. Not only that, but exercise has other benefits: it causes the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones. Who doesn’t need some of those? (As always, have your physician give you the okay before starting an exercise program).

3. Take tiny steps

Stepping out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be something totally dramatic. The key is to practice taking small steps out of your comfort zone every day. Here’s a one-week action plan of small steps to help you break out of your comfort zone. When you start regularly taking tiny steps out of your comfort zone, you’ll build the confidence and momentum to take more steps out of your comfort zone.

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Just keep taking one small step per day to stretch yourself out of your invisible barrier.

4. Focus on others

With every conversation you have, focus on what the other person is saying. When you’re constantly worrying about how you look, what the other person thinks of you, and what you want to say, you’re really not listening at all. Focusing on learning about the other person in every conversation will make you a better communicator and take some pressure off of you.

Focusing on others can help you take steps forward with your big dreams, too. When you have an ambitious goal, it’s easy to get trapped in many fears: What if I fail? What will they think of me? What if I’m not smart enough? When you find yourself stuck in your comfort zone due to fear, work on changing your thoughts. Instead of feeding into the “What if this doesn’t work out and everything in my entire life falls apart….” mindset, try saying, “I have a great idea. As scary as it is to start a new business, the world could greatly benefit from my product, and I can help many people if I work toward the goal of launching my new business.”

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5. Fake it until you become it

As Amy Cuddy says, “Fake it until you become it.” If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend taking a few minutes to watch Amy Cuddy’s TedTalk on Body Language. Her research found that doing very simple “power poses” for just 2 minutes significantly changes our hormone levels, leading to increased confidence. Check out the Ted Talk to see how to do these poses. They are very simple, but as weird as it sounds, they can literally change your life. Faking it until you become it can help give you the confidence you need to break out of your comfort zone.

When you act small, and hide in the “security” of your comfort zone, you aren’t impacting the world like you could be. It’s time to get out of your comfort zone and start playing big.

Featured photo credit: should i?/EladeManu via flickr.com

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Dr. Kerry Petsinger

Entrepreneur, Mindset & Performance Coach, & Doctor of Physical Therapy

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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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