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8 Signs You’ve Matured Through Hardship And Not With Age

8 Signs You’ve Matured Through Hardship And Not With Age

The saying ‘with age comes wisdom’ is true, but it is perhaps oversimplified.

When we were kids, we heard the adults in our lives tell us again and again ‘you’ll understand when you’re older’. It’s not until you’ve been out on your own for some years, and experienced a myriad of hardships, that you realize how true these sayings are. In fact, they have more to do with your experiences than simply getting older.

It’s not like our brains become more capable, or able to absorb more knowledge as we get older. In fact, it’s the opposite. As early as our late 20’s, we begin to lose neurons, and it becomes more difficult to pick up new things and remember as much information as we did when we were younger. This means maturity comes from the amount of things we’ve seen, experienced, and more importantly, how we dealt with these things. How many catastrophes and epic failures have knocked you down? How many heart breaks have taken a chunk out of you, and left you feeling like it will never be replaced? More importantly, how many times have you gotten back up, dusted yourself off and kept on going?

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The more you go through, the more wisdom you gain. The more mistakes you make, the more you qualify to dole out advice on what and how to do things. Your credibility stems from having gone through hardships yourself.

The following are 11 signs you’ve matured through hardship, and not just with age:

1. You know the difference between love, lust, and emotional dependency

You know yourself and what makes you truly happy. You are capable of telling the difference between someone who makes you feel like you desperately need them, and someone who strengthens you and has your best interests at heart. You are capable of objectively understanding the relationships you are in, as well as the kinds of relationships you want to be a part of. You also know how to love others (family, friends, pets, etc.) unconditionally, and value yourself enough to expect those who will love you, to love you just as much. You don’t settle for less, because you deserve the real thing.

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2. You are not a quitter, but you know when it’s time to give up

Yes, you’ve had to work hard to get by in life, and you’ve learned that putting in the time when it gets tough proves to be the only way to accomplish anything. Yet you also know when something isn’t going to work, or when the cons outweigh the pros. You are smart enough to not waste any more time than the necessary. Finally, you know that giving up something that’s wrong right now, will free you up to pursue something that’s much better later.

3. Your failures have taught you that you aren’t perfect, and that’s o.k.

Your failures have taught you that you aren’t perfect, and that’s o.k. You’ve learned through making mistakes what not to do, which has probably come with its fair share of embarrassment. You’ve learned that asking for help is not only necessary, but a sign of strength, not weakness. You don’t bat an eyelash at reaching out to ask for advice from someone who is better at something than you are. Doing these things has taught you humility. Although you might have believed you knew everything at 18, you are now aware of just how little you really did know. You probably also realize how annoying you must have been at that young age, when you have the opportunity to meet other young adults with the same cocky attitude. It reminds you to stay grounded.

4. You’ve learned that things don’t happen when they’re rushed

You may naturally be an impatient person, but you’ve learned that things don’t happen when they’re rushed. They happen when you put the time in, keep showing up, and keep an eye out for opportunities as you go. This routine makes you patient, because you know that you’ll achieve your goals eventually, and that things always get better. After all, you were able to get that exasperating bachelors degree after chipping away at it for 6 years while working full time. You might have also tasted the accomplishment of purchasing your own trip around the world after saving every penny for three years straight. You thought these things were impossible when you started, but learned that with patience and time, all things can be achieved.

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5. You question situations, and look for proof or confirmation before investing too much

You might not be a hardened cynic, but you certainly aren’t dewy eyed and naïve. You question situations, and look for proof or confirmation before putting your money or signature on something. For example, if a landlord asks you to sign the lease on an apartment before you’ve done a walk through and made a list of damages, your answer is no.

Similarly, If a potential flat mate tells you they are ‘100% sure’ they want a room your leasing, but won’t be able to pay you until next week, then your solution is to ask them for some up front. You’re smarter now that you’re older, and know how to manage your time and money.

Finally, if a friend tells you about an offer she’s received for a risqué-modeling shoot, but proceeds to explain that she barely knows the male photographer, chances are you’re going to help her confirm his website, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles to make sure he’s legitimate and that your friend is safe.

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6. You don’t fall for false flattery

You’re experienced, and you’ve met a lot of different types of people. You know the users, the flatterers, and the frenemies. You’ve learned to discern the difference between false flattery and genuine compliments, and no longer have an ego that needs constant boosting. The only compliments you value are the ones that come from the heart, and are genuine. These compliments mean the most to you when they are from someone you deeply care about.

7. You find yourself giving advice and sharing insights often

I mean often. Having been through some tough experiences yourself inclines you to give lots of advice to those who are still navigating their way through life. Although this can often times come off as annoying, controlling, or patronizing, those who know you will understand that it comes from a genuine desire to help.

8. You know with certainty what you don’t want

You take calculated measures to avoid these things. You’ve learned through mistakes to know what your deal breakers are and how to handle them.

Featured photo credit: Girl from Behind With Fantasy Sky via picjumbo.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

Reference

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