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If You Have Forgotten How To Love Yourself, You Need To Read This

If You Have Forgotten How To Love Yourself, You Need To Read This

I was 24 years old when I finally began to love myself. I spent most of my childhood and teenage years hating who I was. I never felt valued or appreciated growing up and these feelings of inadequacy spread to all areas of my life. Fortunately, I grew to understand that I had no control over my circumstances at the time. But I am in total control of who I am from this point on.

Likewise, all of us have life experiences that helps to shape who we are – but we need to find the strength to say, “These experiences won’t DEFINE who I am. I choose who I am.” No matter who you are, whether you were raised in a loving home or not – it can be easy to fall into the trap of forgetting to love yourself. Life might get busy, you might have many responsibilities, you might even forget that you’re important. But you are important and you do matter.

Here are 10 reasons why you can forget to love yourself and how you can put yourself first once again.

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1. You felt unloved growing up, but you’re trying not to let it define you now.

For some of us, it’s not easy to love ourselves when we’ve always struggled with our definition of ‘love’. You may have had mixed messages growing up and/or a lack of positive role models. Unfortunately, this may have led you to believe that you are useless and worthless. But you are definitely not any of the horrible words that you heard uttered. Don’t let the pain of your past stop you from believing that you deserve love. You are a worthy human being and your future is in your hands.

2. You’ve been hurt recently, but you’re trying to see the best in people.

It’s not easy to see the ‘positive’ in everyone when we’ve been hurt so many times. Our self-esteem takes a beating and we question whether we’ve done anything wrong, whether we are at fault or to blame. It’s hard to love yourself when the people who we care deeply about have been making us feel anything but. But don’t let a painful friendship or relationship make you lose faith in humanity. Don’t let these relationships poison your spirit. Take each relationship as a lesson learnt and let it help you with future ones. Let these people teach you how better to treat yourself and to treat others.

3. You’re surrounded by toxic people, but you know they’re not good for you.

Sometimes we may have people in our lives that make us sad more than happy. They may bring out the worst in us and encourage us to become someone we’re not. They simply may be people we don’t need in our lives right now. But if you’re starting to realize that you’re better off without them, then you’re learning to love yourself. You are doing what’s right for you. You are thinking about your own happiness and feelings.

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4. You’re used to caring about everyone else’s needs, but you are starting to understand that you are important too.

Being selfless is a great character trait to have. It means that you are kind, caring and empathetic. You are someone who thrives on making other people happy. But your needs are important too. You’re allowed to care about yourself. You’re allowed to say ‘no’ if you can’t do a favor asked of you. You’re allowed to think about the impact that this favor would have on you – because you are important. When you put yourself first, you are telling yourself, “I love myself enough to care about what’s important to me.”

5. Your life is busy, but you know you need to make more time for yourself.

All of us have responsibilities that can get in the way of caring about ourselves. We’re busy doing overtime at work, we’re rushing around with our home duties and responsibilities as a parent, we’re doing so much that our bodies are suffering. But taking time out for your emotional and mental health is imperative. By looking after your health, you will be more productive and feel more rested. Lie in bed at night with a good book, have a bath, go for a walk in the park, partake in one of your favorite hobbies – do something for you. Do it because you love yourself enough to take a well-deserved break.

6. You feel defined by your failures, but want to get back up again.

We all make mistakes. We all do things that we regret. We all get rejected in some respect, and we all fail. But failing does not mean you are a failure. Don’t let the negative experiences override the good ones. Don’t let it all stop you from getting back up again and loving yourself. You are still a lovable person, regardless of your mistakes.

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7. You’re not sure what to do with your life, but you’re determined to work it out.

It’s okay if you’re feeling confused. We all do at one point or another. The fact that you’re trying to make sense of it all is what counts. Give yourself the time to work it all out. Just because you don’t know exactly where your life is heading, doesn’t mean that you should love yourself any less. Be proud that you are finding out who and what makes you happy – it’s okay to do this by getting to know different types of people and trying out different occupations.

8. You don’t feel ‘successful’ compared to everyone else, but understand that you need to focus more on your uniqueness.

Don’t let the comparisons get you down. Don’t let the money that your loved ones are making, the material possessions that they own, or their occupations make you feel that your life has less value. You are equally important and equally deserving of love. Focus on your own talents and skills. Focus on your own accomplishments and achievements. Love yourself for who you are, and remember that you have your own uniqueness to add to the world.

9. You’ve lost a loved one, but are slowly getting there.

When we’re experiencing grief and loss, it can be difficult to feel anything – let alone ‘love’. When we’re going through immense pain, we might feel that we don’t want to go on with life any more. As we’re struggling to cope, we don’t care any more about the sleep we’ve having, the food we’re eating, the pleasurable activities that we’re doing for ourselves. But you need to remember that it does matter. As painful as your life is at the moment, you still need to take care of you. You’re not selfish for still wanting to move forward and be happy. If the person who you lost meant so much to you, then you most definitely meant a lot to them. And that person would have wanted you to love yourself and to continue to look after yourself.

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10. You don’t see self-love as a priority, but you realize it really needs to be one.

When life gets you down, it’s easy to forget how important it is to love yourself. It’s easy to forget that it is a priority. But you need to make it one. Loving yourself isn’t an inconvenience. It’s not about caring about you and only you. It’s about reminding yourself that no matter how busy or difficult life gets, that the love you have for yourself will give you strength no matter the challenge. That the ability to care for your own needs, to see your own worth, to take time out for yourself, will benefit who you are and those around you. By loving yourself, you are better able to make the best possible difference in this world.

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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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