Advertising
Advertising

When I Change The Way I Look At Things, The Things I Look At Change

When I Change The Way I Look At Things, The Things I Look At Change

We call ourselves the greatest species on earth.

Then it’s only fair that our greatest enemies are ourselves.

Relationships, work, school – it is as if every time you try to take a step forward, your mind whispers to you about how things could be done better, how you should have chosen this option instead of the other one, or how you were the cause of this and that catastrophe.

Advertising

What do you do when your mind – someone who is supposed to be your best friend – turned against you? How do you jump out of that self-blaming cycle when you are the one who stuck your foot in the mud in the first place? How do you succeed when your mind just couldn’t acknowledge the small, slow but sure steps you are taking?

Understand this: We see things not as they are but as we are.

First and foremost, we must acknowledge one thing: rarely do we see reality as it is. Be it a friend, a stranger or yourself, we almost always look at them through the colored lens as what we think they are. We have subconsciously allowed our perceptions to dictate what we see. And it’s not completely wrong. It is a system that allows us to quickly come up with decisions and judge whether if someone, or something, is good news.

However, this system is also easily prone to error. It is too often that we have already made the final verdict before we even took the time to understand the person or matter.

Advertising

“I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential.” — Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love.

We see the potential – good or bad – in things and in life, instead of what they actually are. We hope for the best things and dread the worst. As a result, we are constantly pushed from one extreme to another. We are always riding on an emotional roller coaster – no wonder we feel exhausted all the time.

Stop engaging in an all-or-nothing thinking.

Our minds perceive not only the people and things around us, but ourselves as well.

Advertising

Have you ever felt frustrated at yourself when you didn’t manage to follow that workout routine? Have you ever felt disappointed when you didn’t get a perfect score at an exam?

The moment we set our goals at achieving perfection, we are almost doomed to fail. We have to stop telling ourselves that not winning equals to losing. Sometimes, we falter, trip and fall. What matters most is for us to stand up once again and start running again. Let yourself know that it’s okay to make mistakes and it’s alright to take a break sometimes. Your life is a marathon – you got to keep going.

Start positive self-talk.

You would notice that we’ve been talking about our minds as if it’s a sentient being. To be frank, it’s not that far from it. Kali Rogers stated that inner monologues could dictate our emotions, and are even responsible for our self-esteem and worldview.[1] Therefore, take note of your conversations with the mind. Are they negative? Are they laced with words of hate, guilt and anger? Are they solemn, morbid and desperate?

Advertising

Once you recognize what you are hard on yourself for, start to talk positively with your mind. Cheer yourself up – by telling yourself how great you are every day. Convince it. Persuade it. It might be annoyed. But eventually, it will cave in, and start accepting that you are, in all honesty, an awesome person!

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change too.

Indeed, we could be lost within the confines of our minds sometimes. But it’s okay. Remember: it’s a battle of attrition. It’s a lifelong struggle to stop yourself from being biased towards others and yourself. Take your time, and gradually, gently guide your perceptions. When you change the way you look at things, eventually you would realize that the things you look at will change too.

Featured photo credit: Picjumbo via Picjumbo.com

Reference

More by this author

Eamon Suen

Student, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Life Is Not Supposed To Be Fair, We’re Supposed to Learn To Live With It If You Want To Be Successful, You May Need To Cut Off Something From Life The Earlier You Understand These Truths Of Happiness The Better Accept Where You Are And Happiness Is At Your Fingertips Your New Habits Will Stick With These 5 Killer Strategies

Trending in Communication

1 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 2 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake 3 7 Science-Backed Books About Spirituality That Will Change Your Life 4 20 Things Life Is Too Short to Worry About 5 How to Find Inner Peace and Lasting Happiness

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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

Read Next