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How To Get Un-stuck From Feeling Stuck In Your Twenties

How To Get Un-stuck From Feeling Stuck In Your Twenties

One thing that transcends time, space and geographical location, is the feeling of being stuck in your life. Many of us are in the midst of what some call the “quarter-life crisis” a crossroad between childhood, naivete and adult responsibilities.

While I do not consider this tumultuous period in your twenties as a crisis, it is a big enough issue to warrant consideration. Below are the ways to get un-stuck for twenty-somethings feeling stuck in their life.

Be Conscious of Your Internal Worth

Believing that your worth is hinged on the validation of other people.

Recognition, Awards, While they are some form of tangible evidence for work you may have done, they are still not an accurate representation of you worth, value, talent or success. Whether or not someone else tells you that you are doing a good job, it matters that the voice of recognition that you hold most dear is your own. You alone can know the hard work and dedication that you put into your life, so waiting for others to recognize should be barely a drop in the bucket.

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Refusing to be mindful of your finances, regardless of how small your bank account balance may be.

Now, I’m not saying become an extreme budgeter, a la Extreme Couponing or deny yourself the simplest of pleasures, however, your wallet might really appreciate if you were more careful about random shopping trips and frequent restaurant outings.

Money is definitely not all, but it is an unfortunate necessity to survive at the most minimal basis. We do not need to be a slave to it, but by seeking out simple financial strategies, you will be creating a much less tumultuous space for yourself.

Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself

Making decisions based on fear or desperation.

Decisions made from periods of emotional uncertainty tend to result in life dissatisfaction later on. When we are faced with an empty bank account, the offer to pet-sit five cats despite your serious allergies might actually start looking good. When decisions are made because we are fearful of the outcome of our current circumstances, or desperate to attain something that we believe others are expecting us to, then we are not truly connecting with ourselves at the core.

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Decisions, regardless of circumstances, are better made from a place of thoughtful consideration. Your conscience and your sense of self will be all the better for it.

Staying focused on instant gratification, rather than long-term sustained happiness.

We live in a fast-paced world where trends and the collection of things that are new and must-haves are intertwined with how we view our position in the world. You can get, view and share things with the simple click of a button, our needs are satisfied before we can even complete the thought.

Instant gratification has become a way of life, but what we will soon come to understand is that focusing on the things that we can possess right now, or the places that our life can take us right now, is cutting us off from our potential for long-held satisfaction with life.

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As cliche as it may sound, nothing worth having comes easily. While that gig may give you a quick few bucks to blow on your next big dinner plans, holding out for that stable client who you can build a long-term relationship with can have you moving out of your dingy apartment in due time.

Being unsure how to rid yourself of toxicity in your life (people/places/situations)

Toxicity can pull at the fibers of your life force and have you constantly wondering why you are so drained. You may not notice it at first, but I encourage you to take the time to do a bit of self-reflection when you find yourself feeling a bit ‘off’ after an encounter with a particular person, or taking part in a certain activity.

Become more self-aware about your reactions to the world around you, and you will find yourself picking out shards of glass that you never knew were there before.

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The Myth Of Perfection

Placing more importance on perfection, rather than progression.

This is a concept that has personally left me feeling stuck for quite some time. For so long, I was so concerned with perfecting a story or polishing a project to its maximum potential, before even considering letting other people know about it, that I ended up stalled.

I was stalled by this myth that is perfection. My movements towards just getting something done, one small step at a time, was constantly overshadowed by the doubts that it needs to be perfect, and if I can’t make sure that it’s perfect, then there’s no sense doing it. A lesson well learned, is that progression, even with baby steps, trumps the crippling effects of perfectionism.

Waiting for the magical period of time where you are richer, fitter, and more popular to do what you have always wanted to do.

Do it now. Start where you are. You do not need to be privileged to take steps everyday towards doing the things that you have always wanted to do. Regardless of how fit, rich, or popular you are, you have the opportunity each day to make one move.

There will never be a perfect time to start. If the issue here is perfectionism (as we touched on, in the previous item), then look at it this way: to do and make mistakes means that you are learning and growing.

Featured photo credit: D.L. Samuels via shotbydlsamuels.com

More by this author

Shanice J. Douglas, MSc.

Writer | StoryTeller | Founder, WittedRoots.com

How to Stop Your Mind from Going Blank in Any Stressful Situation How To Get Un-stuck From Feeling Stuck In Your Twenties

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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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