“The best piece of advice someone has ever given me was ‘do it scared.’ And no matter if you’re scared, just go ahead and do it anyway because you might as well do it scared, so it will get done and you will feel so much better if you step out of your comfort zone” – Sheri Shepard
It is a dangerous thing living in your comfort zone because you never really explore the opportunity to chase your dreams. You are protected from the roller coaster ride of life and as a result you have no life lessons from which you can base how you live your life and the kind of person you want to be.
Living in your comfort zone supports the feelings, thoughts and beliefs that do not serve you well and prevent you from living your life to the fullest. Your fears about life become your reality and you have no idea about your potential, your talents and your skills. You really have no idea about who you are. If you want to live your life to the fullest and you want to achieve your dreams then you are going to have to step out of your comfort zone. Your comfort zone is your self made prison and the longer you stay there the less chance you will have to live your life to your fullest potential.
Living in the comfort zone brings you certainty in life, (or so you think). When you have this so called feeling of certainty then you feel safe and you will do what ever it takes to convince yourself that certainty and feeling safe is the best thing for you. At times it is important to feel safe and confident about what is happening in your life. However if you refuse to step out of your comfort zone your safety net of certainty eventually becomes your prison cell. If you stay there long enough finding the key to release you from your prison becomes too hard. You end up accepting safety and fear as the benchmarks to how you live life.
I have lived parts of my life in the comfort zone and for awhile I felt safe and reasonably happy (so I thought). I was good at convincing myself I was happy and also very skilled at dismissing my feelings of dissatisfaction, disappointment and regret.
One question that would constantly pop up in my mind was “Is there something better for me in life or is this it?”. Of course being an expert at living in the comfort zone I could quickly rationalise with myself that actually life is okay and it’s not worth rocking the boat. As a result I lost out on many opportunities because I was too scared of the unknown and too scared to step out of my comfort zone. It is very hard to be proactive and take on opportunities when one is living in their comfort zone.
Living in your comfort zone is all about personal choice, in that you are the one and only person who can choose to stay or to go. I was forced to leave my comfort zone as a result of 2 major life events – the sudden loss of both parents and the loss of 3 jobs in 18 months. To deal with these major life events I had to leave my comfort zone, I needed to heal and work through the pain and grief of losing my parents and the feelings of failure and rejection as a result of being made redundant three times in eighteen months.Advertising
I knew that by staying in my comfort zone I would be shut away from the reality of what was happening to me. For me to survive and thrive in my life I had to step out of the comfort zone and learn how to face my fears and how to deal with all the uncertainty and the unpredictability of life. Stepping out of your comfort zone doesn’t happen overnight and it is hard work however the rewards you gain are priceless. You start living and experiencing life as it should be lived, with you in control. Your resilience and courage becomes the foundation that enable you to survive and thrive in life.
So how did I step out of my comfort zone? Well, here are 7 courageous actions that I did that helped me to make the decision to step out and stay out of my comfort zone, so that I could live my life with me in control!
1. Complete a 30 Day Challenge of Change
The purpose of this activity is to get you comfortable with change. The challenge also enables you to experience change in small steps and to start to modify the habits and behaviours that keep you locked in your comfort zone.
Every day for 30 days you will do either an everyday task differently or an activity that you have never done before. You will need to record the new activities each day and you can do this on a wall chart. It is important that this wall chart is visible to you and everyone else.
The 30 day challenge is not something you do quietly, you need to announce to everyone what you are doing.
I announced to my friends on FaceBook that I was doing the 30 day challenge of change and everyday I would post the new activity or event. This kept me accountable and meant that I had to complete my challenge as a lot of my friends were supporting and encouraging me.
The 30 day challenge gets you to push your boundaries and doing things you have always been too scared to do. Only you can challenge yourself to do the things that scare you. You don’t need to be scared all the time while you are doing this challenge however if you haven’t been scared at least 6 times during the 30 day challenge then you are wasting your time. You are not being courageous, you are been cautious and safe.Advertising
2. List All Your Fears and Habits That Keep You in Your Comfort Zone
Write this list down on a piece of paper and place it where you can see it everyday. As you go through the 30 day challenge tick the fears and bad habits that you overcome every day of the challenge. You will be surprised how many fears and bad habits you can conquer in 30 days.
This activity helps you get your fears out of your head and on to a piece of paper where you now have control. You soon start to realise as you work through your 30 day challenge that it is only you that has the power to decide if you want to live your life ruled by your fears or not.
Get educated about you and what it is that you do and think that keeps you in your comfort zone. Figure out what you need to do to better manage these behaviours and habits that have control over you and how you live your life.
3.Start Using Your Power Of Choice
Remember living your life in your comfort zone is your choice. Only you have the power to change this and you do this by choosing to live your life differently. Your power of choice is a gift and it enables you to live your life with you in control. Your power of choice enables you to survive and thrive in life and that means you are living your life to it fullest.
Try to be more reflective in your decision making and learn how to trust yourself. The big fear that limits your power of choice is your fear of failure. You need to deal to this fear and understand that it is only through failure that one can learn and grow in life.
These 3 questions that helped me have more confidence about making choices and decisions in my life are
- What is the worst thing that will happen if I fail?
- Have I thought this through carefully or am I acting on impulse or emotion?
- In what ways would my life be better if I went ahead with this opportunity or goal?
4. Keep a Journal of Celebration
Celebrate your successes. Once you have completed the 30 day challenge don’t stop, keep pushing your boundaries. Living out of your comfort zone is a life long journey. Your journal is a great way for you to record and celebrate your successes.Advertising
Keeping a journal is an important strategy to help you maintain your motivation and desire to live your life to the fullest. Recording your journey in life and all your successes will help grow your confidence and self belief. It is these two qualities in life that provide the fuel for to keep you going and to keep pushing your boundaries.
5. Read Books About Change, Personal Growth and Managing Risk
Knowledge is powerful tool in life as it enables you to change your life. I started reading books about personal growth and personal change. I also watched lots of Ted Talks about motivation, success, risk taking and failure.
The more I read and the more action I took to push my boundaries the more opportunities came my way. I also started meeting people who had been on their own personal journeys of change and I found their stories inspirational.
There are 3 events in ones life that create personal change. They are;
- An opportunity comes your way that is unexpected – job promotion, inheritance or winning the lottery
- Personal Crises – an unexpected event that changes your life dramatically
- Choice – you proactive and choose to make a decision to make changes in your life
I had a personal crises that forced me to change my life and step out of my comfort zone. It was tough but I survived and I know now how to live my life to its fullest. I am not afraid of life and I am definitely more courageous and resilient.
However if I had to choose an event that would enable me to live life out of my comfort zone I would go for Life Event 3 – Choice.. Being proactive and using my power of choice to make the changes I need to make in my life is a far less painful way for me to step out of my comfort zone than to deal with a personal crises.
Don’t wait for a personal crises to force you to change your life,use your power of choice and act on it now. Take control of your life and choose to step out of your comfort zone so that you can truly live a life where you are surviving and thriving.Advertising
6. Find Someone Who Has Done What You Want To Do With Life
Find someone who you admire, dead or alive that lives their life outside of their comfort zone. Get to know them either through reading books, watching movies or talking to them one on one. Find out everything about them, in fact stalk them (in a nice way) and copy exactly how they act, what they think and what they do that enables them to live their life outside of their comfort zone. Let them become your teacher and your mentor. They will show you how to be courageous and how you can live outside of your comfort zone forever!
7. Get Your Mind Body and Soul Aligned
Stepping out of your comfort zone requires desire, motivation and courage. Having your mind body and soul aligned builds your mental and physical stamina and resilience so that you can survive and thrive in life – No 7 is key to successfully keeping you out of your comfort zone forever.
Exercising regularly, eating well, getting lots of sleep and having time out for your mind to rest (being mindful) are activities that are key to you surviving and thriving in life. These activities strengthen your resilience and your courage and as a result living out of your comfort zone gets easier and easier to do.
So go use these 7 things to help you step out of your comfort zone. You won’t regret it because you truly will live your life the way it should be lived.
Good luck. I would love to hear how you are going stepping of your comfort zone and living a life that is real – the good, the great, the bad and the ugly!
Last Updated on January 15, 2021
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension. 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.
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? 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.
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.
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:
“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.
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.
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
- Increasing Confidence with Body Language
- 8 Fatal Body Language Mistakes To Avoid During Presentations
- Be Instantly Irresistible With These 10 Body Language Tips
Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com
|||^||Berkeley News: The 16 facial expressions most common to emotional situations worldwide|
|||^||Science Daily: Teeth grinding and facial pain increase due to coronavirus stress and anxiety|
|||^||National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint & Muscle Disorders|
|||^||Michigan Medicine: Stress Management: Doing Progressive Muscle Relaxation|
|||^||Spectra Magazine: Oculesics: Science Speaks Where Words Do Not|
|||^||NCBI: Attention to Eye Contact in the West and East: Autonomic Responses and Evaluative Ratings|
|||^||ResearchGate: An Anthropology of the Handshake|
|||^||Sage Journals: Mapping the Range of Information Contained in the Iconic Hand Gestures that Accompany Spontaneous Speech|
|||^||Journal of Experimental Psychology: Hand Matters: Left-Hand Gestures Enhance Metaphor Explanation|