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How to Calm Your Inner Critic in Seconds

How to Calm Your Inner Critic in Seconds

It’s amazing how mean we can be to ourselves.

The inevitable truth about your full-time inner critic is it knows your biggest weaknesses and darkest secrets. As a result, it only takes one nasty phrase from your inner commentator to bring out the worst in you.

It doesn’t matter how successful, kind, giving or loving you are. The part that judges you tends to ignore the good. It gains strength when you buy into its awful statements and it thrives when you act in self-defeating ways after it attacks your hope or character. The more your actions are dictated by your inner critic, the more influence it has over you in the future.

The benefits of soothing your inner critic

I’m going to offer you a simple, yet powerful way to give a chill pill to that unforgiving voice in your head. This suggestion will help you build a more understanding inner dialogue that has the power to neutralize the negative effects of your inner voice’s judgments against yourself and other people.

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By improving your ability to soothe your inner critic, you’re likely to enjoy the following benefits:

  1. Your anger will spoil fewer moments of your life.
  2. You’ll kill fewer brain cells. Yes, venomous self-hate and giant anger outbursts kill cells in your body.
  3. You’ll find yourself applying this technique to the way you judge others, which will make your personality more magnetic because you’ll appear more likable and approachable to others.
  4. You’ll feel more at ease knowing that you have a technique at your disposal for taming the angry beast inside you.

What I’m about to tell you has worked quite well for thousands of New Yorkers, especially people who specifically needed assistance with anger management or chronic depression, but it can help anyone. So here it is, the best way to be nicer to yourself (and the people you love).

There I go judging again

Every time you catch yourself in the midst of self-judgment, say in your mind or out loud, “There goes [insert your name] judging again.”

The goal is to repeat this every time you notice yourself judging inward or outward. I promise you that after 30 instances of hearing yourself say this, you’ll feel the difference. Let me show you how to apply this technique to self-directed, mental daggers.

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Example #1 – Shutting Down Self-Judgment

Let’s say you were just laid off from your job. Whether you were hoping for this outcome or not, your inner critic is probably going to have a field day with this.

Every time you begin to belittle yourself about losing your job, stop everything and say, “Upppp, here I go judging again.”

Example #2 – Shutting Down Outward Judgment

Don’t forget to apply this technique to your judgment of other people — strangers, family, friends, coworkers, teachers or your long-term partner — give them (and yourself) a break. For example, you’re at a party and someone you don’t know is ranting about why one political candidate is better than another. You completely disagree with him and you begin to feel the urge to put him in his place and shut him down by disproving every point he’s making.

If you’re passionate about politics, you’re probably not going to stop yourself from hating him in your mind, but you can neutralize the negative effects of hate on your brain by saying to yourself, “Upppp, there I go judging again!”

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Why is this simple technique so effective?

Because it allows you to practice putting distance between you and your judgments, thereby suppressing some of the negative effects of the judgment.

Know that when you judge, you lose.

There’s no winning in judgment. Judgment makes people depressed and unhappy. In fact, if you think about the most unlikable person you know, I bet he or she loves to judge people. Don’t be that person. Give your mind and body a break.

The key to the success of this simple, but potent technique is to commit to doing it as much as possible. When regular practice is combined with a true appreciation of it’s benefits to your health and happiness, you’ll begin to transform your inner critic into a less punishing entity.

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You must understand that the price you pay for judgment is not worth it. Even if the only message you get from this piece is that judgment kills, I will feel like I did my job. Tell me, what did you get out of letting that judgment hijack your mood? Ok, you might be able to prove him wrong, but there’s no winning.

Judgments aren’t wins

You’re not going to stop judging, but you can influence the impact that judgment has on your health and happiness. Judgments aren’t wins. They are losses that can ruin your life. Bitterness builds over time like mental plaque, which is the result of tens of thousands of heavy judgments.

Judgments aren’t wins. They are losses that can ruin your life. Bitterness builds over time like mental plaque, which is the result of tens of thousands of heavy judgments. People who feel like the world owes them something are usually the biggest judges and believe me, their health will suffer as a result of their unchecked judgment.

I must credit Dr. Peter Reznik with inspiring me to apply this technique to my work with patients and to my own life. Believe me, this easy hack can make a huge difference in your life!

Featured photo credit: Photo Credit: Bigstock via bigstock.com

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judgment, self-criticism, depression, judge, inner voice, inner critic, psychologist, self-talk, technique, calm How to Calm Your Inner Critic in Seconds Read This to Conquer Your Monday Morning Blues Right Now

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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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