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Don’t Feel Beaten Up When Your Road Is Blocked, It’s Never Too Late For A Comeback

Don’t Feel Beaten Up When Your Road Is Blocked, It’s Never Too Late For A Comeback

Goals and dreams are what makes life exciting, motivating, purposeful and worthwhile. When the path is easy and straightforward, it can be the most fulfilling feeling but inevitably obstacles and roadblocks come around the corner; not to tell us our dream is unreachable and unattainable, but to allow us to learn, grow and become the person we need to be in order to get there.

For many of us, once we come across a hurdle, it can simply be what stops our dream in its tracks – the motivation wanes, our beliefs in achieving our goals breaks down and it can seem impossible and dejecting.

In a society where we are judged for our looks and age alongside our abilities and competence, having our dreams placed in the hands of others’ opinions of us is a dangerous game and one that will quash the dreams of even the strong-minded of people. If you’re feeling beaten down or even that it’s too late for you to achieve your life-long ambition then take a page out of Meryl Streep’s book.

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A talented, award-winning actress, Meryl Streep is loved and admired by millions for the countless roles she’s played in our best-loved movies. But it has by no means been an easy road for her; struggles to break the Hollywood mould in more ways than one has meant she has had to reach her dream the hard way compared to many but the lessons she learnt has made her into the well-known, talented actress we know today.

Love Yourself, Be Yourself And Never Give Up

Meryl Streep 3

    At a very young age, Meryl wanted to be on the stage performing. But it was at an audition for King Kong, aged 27, that she came up against something that would stop many from continuing their goal pursuits – she was told by the producer that she was simply “too ugly” for the role.

    Like many of us doing with ourselves, Streep found fault with her looks and sometimes struggled to really embrace them. But she realised that by caring what other people thought of her was only bringing her down and stopping her from fully going after what she wanted.

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    “This was a pivotal moment for me. This one rogue opinion could derail my dreams of becoming an actress or force me to pull myself up by the boot straps and believe in myself. I took a deep breath and said ‘I’m sorry you think I’m too ugly for your film but you’re just one opinion in a sea of thousands and I’m off to find a kinder tide. Today I have 18 Academy Awards.”

    “For young women, I would say, don’t worry so much about your weight. Girls spend way too much time thinking about that, and there are better things. For young men, and women, too, what makes you different or weird, that’s your strength … I used to hate my nose. Now I don’t. It’s OK.”

    We can’t ever let other people determine our future and – even worse – the thoughts we have of ourselves. To truly achieve what we want in life we need to learn how to embrace ourselves, love ourselves and believe in ourselves. Resilience is immensely important when it comes to happiness and continuing the path to our dreams and goals. Developing a mindset that keeps you on the path no matter what you are faced with, will prove to be the linchpin in becoming successful in what you want to achieve in life.

    Embrace Getting Older. Never See It As A Reason To Give Up

    Meryl Streep 2

      It’s another societal view that getting older is somehow a decline in achieving your hopes and dreams. It’s often associated with a lack of ability or incompetence but this is quite the opposite.

      Although Meryl Streep is a world-famous actress now, she took numerous roles from a young age without much success or acknowledgement. Once she hit her 40s, she noticed a definite shift in the types of roles she was being offered mirroring the attitudes Hollywood and society as a whole view older women.

      “When I was 40, I was offered three witches in one summer. And I thought, ‘OK, this is it. You turn 40, and oh my god.’ The only reason I have a career at 64 is that I’ve had hits later in life. I’ve found that once certain movies are out, audiences aren’t so age-phobic. They were willing, and they were happy.”

      It wasn’t until she was getting prestigious roles about strong, independent, older women such as Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada that she started receiving more mainstream recognition and more and more roles portraying older women were becoming more desirable. Considered today as one of the greatest american actresses, Streep’s career and attitude has helped change this Hollywood mindset by working steadily on various projects including mentoring women at The Writers Lab – a new initiative nurturing female screenwriters over the age of 40.

      Streep’s understanding of the discrimination that older women face has been to the benefit and gain towards the shifting of ageist attitudes in our society. While age and getting older is a scary concept to many, the message that she puts forward is that it’s never too late – it’s never too late to continue on with your dream or even start pursuing a dream you always had. Don’t let others stop you from living your life and never use it as a reason not to be happy.

      Featured photo credit: Gareth Cattermole via thedailybeast.com

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      Jenny Marchal

      A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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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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