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8 Reasons Being Highly Sensitive Is A Gift In Disguise

8 Reasons Being Highly Sensitive Is A Gift In Disguise

If you are a highly sensitive person, you may well have grown up equating this distinctly human quality to weakness. After all, such feelings can make us vulnerable to the robust demands of professional and personal existences, while there is also an external view that sensitivity is a negative emotional trait.

This way of thinking does not take into account the benefits of being a highly sensitive individual or the unique gifts that it bestows. In fact, highly sensitive people have a positive range of attributes that can enrich their lives, while also adding value to their friends and loved ones around them.

8 Gifts that Highly Sensitive People Possess

With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of these unique gifts and explore the reasons why being highly sensitive can be a blessing in disguise:

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1. Highly sensitive people are in-tune with the feelings of others

Some would describe highly sensitive people as being empathetic, but their gifts extend far beyond this. In fact, they are able to identify the feelings of others and those around them, either through their expression, body language or the words that they use when communicating. Highly sensitive people can also determine tone, meaning that they are able to tell when others are sad or experiencing a negative emotion regardless of what they are talking about. Aligned with their superior listening skills, this makes them incredibly warm and approachable people.

2. Highly sensitive people have gratitude for the simple blessings in their lives

Sensitivity to others also extends to the world around us, making certain individuals acutely aware of the pain and suffering that exists in society. As a result of this, highly sensitive people are able to view the world with a superior sense of perspective, making them grateful for the small blessings that others may take for granted. From the warmth of their children’s smiles to spending time with loved ones, these blessings trigger immense feelings of joy in those with high levels of sensitivity and make their lives fulfilling.

3. Highly sensitive people are excellent parents

On a similar note, those of a highly sensitive nature also make for attentive and patient parents. After all, babies and toddlers can be particularly demanding, meaning that parents must display huge levels of selflessness in order to provide adequate care. As highly sensitive people are in touch with the needs of those around them and inclined to give their time to help others, they make for committed parents who ensure that their children are listened to, understood and given the best possible care. As children are the ultimate blessing in life, people with high sensitivity tend to be extremely appreciative of the gift of parenthood.

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4. Highly sensitive people never shy away from loss

For those who consider high levels of sensitivity as a weakness, it would be reasonable to assume that such a personality type would struggle to cope in the face of loss or tragedy. The opposite is actually true, however, whether you are sensitive and dealing with a personal loss or helping a friend to cope with tragedy in their own lives. As highly sensitive individuals are undefended and open to the nature of loss, they are less likely to shy away from this and more capable of remaining strong in the face of true sadness.

5. Highly sensitive people are extremely creative

Creativity is a huge gift, and one that can change the world around us for the better. It is also something that highly sensitive people have in abundance, at least according to psychologist Elaine Aron. She estimates that roughly 20% of the world’s popular are highly sensitive, with 70% of these heavily introverted. This trait is one of the key drivers of creativity, meaning that those of an acutely sensitive nature have a considerable capability for conceiving and acting on abstract thoughts.

6. Highly sensitive people can make more informed decisions

If you were talking to a psychologist, they would tell you that highly sensitive individuals have a far greater awareness of nuances in meaning. In laymen terms, this means that their attentiveness to detail makes them able to process large amounts of information in a thoughtful manner, leading to greater caution and more informed decision making. Because of such thought patterns and the fact that highly sensitive individuals are aware of all potential outcomes, they also make for excellent leaders.

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7. Highly sensitive people are great conversationalists

Highly sensitive people also make for great conversationalists, but not necessarily in the way that you might think. While they are certainly skilled listeners and capable of identifying with other’s feelings, their keen sense of the world around them ensures that they are highly engaged with topical issues and talking points. In short, their unique relationship with the world makes them feel as though they belong to the narratives that they share, meaning that they are rarely lost for words and often stimulated by meaningful conversations.

8. Highly sensitive people have greater sensory perception

On a final note, certain studies have revealed that highly sensitive people tend to benefit from greater levels of sensory perception. This is a true gift and a wonderful virtue, and one which can enrich our everyday lives considerably. It enables us to more easily identify subtle nuances of texture in clothing and materials, as well as fragrances, colours and the beats that underpin our favourite tunes. Such a gift creates superior visual and interactive experiences, while also allowing us to take greater joy in life’s simple pleasures.

Hopefully, understanding these traits will help you to appreciate the true value of being highly sensitive the many benefits that it offers in everyday life.

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Featured photo credit: Evan Kirby via stocksnap.io

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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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