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Be Careful What You Wish For

Be Careful What You Wish For

What you think, you become. Your thoughts create your reality. What you believe, you will achieve. We have all heard of these famous quotes at some point in our lives, and some of us may be aware of the “Law of Attraction.”

I for one am a firm believer. Even though we may be aware of these ideas, life can get tough and things can happen outside of our control. It can be hard to always stay positive, especially during the rough times.

Not long ago, something happened to me that was actually a blessing in disguise. It was the universe giving me a slap in the face, telling me to snap out of it and get my life together. As small as it may seem to some, this experience was actually quite significant to me, and I wanted to share the story.

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Manifestation

It was 7 am, and I was walking back to my apartment after an intense gym session. I felt great after my workout, but I was dreading having to go to work. I really didn’t want to go. There were so many other things I would rather be doing. As I was walking, I started thinking up excuses for why I didn’t have to go. “Maybe I could call in sick? No, that’s going to be so obvious, seeing as we just had a break from work and the weekend has just ended. What else can I say?”

As I was pondering and contemplating what I could tell my boss, a thought came into my head. “What if I said my bank cards got compromised, and that now I have no way to get to work because I don’t have access to money?” I thought about it for a while, and then I started imagining all of the things I would be able to get done if I didn’t have to go to work. I imagined taking my time to shower, have breakfast and get ready, instead of rushing every morning after the gym to be on time as I usually do. I started visualizing how good it would feel to be able to do things at my own pace.

Then I started writing a checklist of all of the things I could accomplish in my day. “I could get the next couple of modules done with my online course. I could start developing my landing pages and click funnels for my online business. I could also work on my social media pages and my blog page.” The things I could accomplish in those 8 hours!

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After a bit of daydreaming, I decided I just couldn’t call my boss and lie to him, so I started getting ready for work and went on with my day. I was doing my usual routine, eating breakfast while I checked my emails and notifications. I then saw an email from PayPal stating that a transaction had been approved. I looked back at the email and immediately knew that I had not made any recent purchases for that amount and then proceeded to the “dispute this payment” button.

Our Thoughts Become Our Reality

I won’t get into the finer details of this dilemma, but long story short, my accounts were actually compromised and I had to cancel all of my cards. I then had to let my boss know that I couldn’t come to work because I was dealing with my accounts being hacked. I spent all morning on the phone dealing with the changes of passwords, automatic payments that were due that week, and just the headache of making sure all loose ends were tied up.

It wasn’t until I could finally breathe and process what had just happened that I realised that I had manifested this. I thought this up, and the universe conspired to make it happen. I know this because the universe has also helped me in so many ways in the past by conspiring to make great things happen to me. My thoughts literally brought this to life.

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I thought of what I wanted and I actually envisioned myself achieving what I wanted and how I would feel. “Ask and you shall receive.” In all fairness, I did get all of the things I had planned done and it did turn out to be quite a productive day. In a roundabout way, I really did get what I wanted and I didn’t have to lie because it was actually the truth!

This is when I realised that I was off balance. I knew the “Law of Attraction” worked and I simply just forgot to be aware of my thoughts. Instead of dreading going to work and thinking up silly things like getting my account compromised, I realized I should be looking at things from another perspective. I should start to imagine the things I do want and only focus on that.

Be Mindful

The universe is a funny place, and our thoughts really do create our reality. So why was I thinking of the things I didn’t want and bringing things upon myself that are less than ideal? I took that minor setback as a blessing in disguise. The universe was gently reminding me that I needed to be conscious of my thoughts.

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We need to nurture our minds. They are extremely powerful. We need to feed our minds good thoughts and push away the negative feelings of doubt and insecurity. We all have them, we just need to choose whether we want to entertain them. There is a reason why so many successful people talk about the law of attraction. It’s a universal law. We create our realities, so why not make yours a great one?

When you start to think about the things in your life, take a second and evaluate whether what you are thinking is really what you want. Is this thought productive? Is it hurting anyone? Do I really want this to happen? Is this thought necessary? The universe has mysterious ways of delivering. It can be a magical place if you let it. It can also go the other way if you allow it. At the end of the day, it is really up to us. We have a choice. Be careful what you wish for.

Featured photo credit: Lupine Photography via facebook.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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