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The Real Outcomes of Self-Development

The Real Outcomes of Self-Development

Things change when you start working on yourself. Some things that you expect to be too clichéd actually do happen, and others take you by surprise. Here are some things that arise when you spend time being the real you.

Haters gonna hate

No matter how well off you are or how well you have it together, there will always be people who will criticize you. The trick is not to buy into the number one lie: “You are lacking.”

Some will do it out of jealousy, some will do it out of spite, and others will do it to push you. But they all tell themselves “I’m not being nasty” or “I’m trying to help them grow.” Only some of them will actually turn the criticism into something constructive for you to work on. The reason being, it’s not about what you’re lacking—you already have everything to make the most out of your life—it’s about which parts you can make better. Constructive criticism will show you those parts.

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Friendship masks fall to the floor

As people start seeing you for who you are, you start seeing them for who they are. Sincerity increases beyond value. People who genuinely want to know you are intrigued and go out of their way to discover more about you, from you. You’ll find yourself in a position of authentic friendships, the ones that don’t use you as a time or space occupier, or to fill an emotional void. Instead of blowing their own horn and forcing you to blow yours to make a masked friendship work, you’ll find yourself in the presence of people who keep you accountable to your own standards and priorities. These are friends that add value to your life and you to theirs.

Self-inflicted drama becomes childish

When you know yourself better, you know the way you tick. You understand what sets you off on an emotional rollercoaster and what it looks, sounds, and feels like when the internal furnace starts to boil. Because you know this, you know when to walk away before it blows over, you eliminate plenty of embarrassment, moments of apologies, and a lot hurt for yourself and those around you. You become really good at seeing the outcomes of your own actions before they’ve taken place.

Drama becomes child’s play and stays in your childhood—where it belongs.

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There will always be moments where the unpreventable happens, but when those moments occur, you’re also better equipped to handle them in a more dignified manner.

Opportunities are a-knockin’

All of a sudden, you find yourself living in a world where there are an influx of invitations, chances, opportunities, and challenges. A lot of them will be super exciting, some of them terrifying and daunting, others tedious and boring, and others still weird and whimsical. But you’ve extended the thoughts of your own limitations and now have the ability to test new waters. As you make decisions by sifting through these new prospects, you’d think the opportunities would slow down, but they just keep on coming, and they get better with time.

You stick to your guns

After a while, you will have learned your basic daily routine and have it pretty much down pat. When you go to embrace a new opportunity or habit, you’re able to draw from what you’ve already learned about yourself; your reactions, how long it takes you to form a habit, how you think, what you need to do to overcome it and keep motivated. Your stamina becomes one of your greatest assets.

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It becomes more than a stale habit—it’s an attitude and a lifestyle change.

Having the stamina to do the little tedious things, even when you don’t feel like it, makes it easier to strive for newer and greater things. Stamina isn’t what makes you start something, but it’s what keeps you going (#Stamina2Strive) and it’s one of the most powerful skills you will master to succeed every day.

You’re actually happier

Everywhere you go, people start commenting on how happy you are. Your attire, your posture, your attitude and mood—they all reflect joy in unison. Your actual presence starts radiating exuberance, and the people around you feel it. You become so comfortable in who you are because you know your strengths and you use them to the max. But equally, you embrace your weaknesses for where they’re at, look forward to where they’re going, and enjoy the process. In becoming the best version of yourself, you actually like who you are without having to be fake.

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You’re rocking being real, and the world digs that.

The world can no longer convince you of who you are, because you already know. When all the hard work pays off, the best bit is this:

You’re not even trying anymore!

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.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

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