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How to Accept Yourself for Who You Are and Be Happy

How to Accept Yourself for Who You Are and Be Happy

When you cultivate relationships with new people that forge a lifelong bond, it is doubtful that you are going to try to change that person. You’re not going to make them feel that they are any less of a person because of who they are, what they like, or what they pursue in life. We all know that this isn’t the right way to make connections with another human being.

Yet when we approach ourselves and continue our relationships with ourselves, there seems to be a desire to change, punish, or alter ourselves to meet certain expectations. If you were doing this to another person, this would be seen as unacceptable! We shouldn’t treat ourselves any differently.

The simple truth of life is that your only stable and lifelong relationship is with yourself. Because of this, it is the most important one you are going to have and, one that you will need to nurture if you want to lead a happy life. True, you will want to change some things but there is a massive benefit to simply accepting and moving forward from there.

If you have a hard time settling down with you, here are some tips on how to accept yourself so that you can start living a life that others dream of!

1. Take Some Time to Sit With Yourself and Discover Who You Are

The major problem that many people face when it comes to self-acceptance is that they have yet to engage in self-discovery. Many people may feel purposeless and lost, which is ultimately due to a lack of self and an unclear understanding of who you are and what you want.

Self-discovery is a necessary first step but it is one that comes with a lot of work and is ever-changing. Starting your own self-discovery journey may consist of the following:

Discovering Your Purpose

Each of us may feel like we are called to do something at some point in time that will help to grow others as well as ourselves.

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What are you passionate about? What gets you fired up and makes you forget about everything else? What is something that you could picture doing for the rest of your life?

Sometimes, the best way to discover purpose is simply to go out and do until you learn more about where your passions lie.

Learning More About Your Values and Beliefs

Values and beliefs, which may stem from childhood or, may come from experience in recent years, help to set up structure in our lives and drive us towards the things that matter most to us.

Are you someone who has strong ties to family? Do you rely on honesty and integrity to live your life? What are your spiritual or religious beliefs? What type of community do you want to build or belong to?

These are some important questions to ask as these questions dictate what choices you make along your path.

Journal and Keep Track of the Day-to-Day

Even if you are unsure of who you are, what you do on a regular basis will certainly tell you everything you need to know.

What are some things that you like to do? What are things that are not necessarily fun for you? What are some habits that you have cultivated, healthy or otherwise? What are your dreams? Ambitions? Goals?

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We all have things that make us unique. Take the time to learn more about those aspects of the self.

There’s this misconception that acceptance goes hand-in-hand with a refusal to change but that’s not true. Acceptance starts with recognition and embracing who that person is. You will then go on to nurture them and to change some of those unhealthy aspects, so that you can become who you want to be.[1]

2. Accept What You Can’t Change

You are who you are. You love what you love. There are some things that you will be able to change in your life (for the better) and, there are some things that will simply be for the rest of your time here on earth.

Expending mental energy on wishing you can change things that are never going to change is a waste of your time and will inevitably lead to sadness. Whatever it is that you wish you could change, know that you are a worthy human being regardless of what it is you are insecure about.

Take time to be kind to yourself, let your guard down and embrace these things, and learn how to overcome that inner voice that tells you that you’re not good enough. In order to be happy with who we are, we must allow ourselves to be accepting of all aspects of the self.

The biggest barrier for most people, however, is learning how to cultivate acceptance of the self. If you are struggling at this point, here are some tips that will allow you to tackle the project easier:

  • Practice positive self-talk and challenge any negative thoughts that come out of you as they are released.
  • Choose to be loving towards yourself and your flaws, rather than trying to hide them away or ignore them.
  • Accept that everything that has happened has led you to this point and will carry you to your goals as you work towards them.
  • Spend some time with yourself engaging in enjoyable activities so that you can bond with yourself and fall in love with that person.
  • Know that you will have easy days as well as hard days. Take them as they come.

It may take time but in the end, you are going to be grateful that you put in the effort to cultivate self-love.[2]

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3. Change What Needs to Be Changed for Your Benefit

Not all change is good change. Some change can be harmful and that change needs to be avoided.

However, some change can be beneficial and that change is the type that helps to grow you as a person and allows you to blossom into the person you want to be.

Acceptance and acknowledging of yourself and the world around you is great but, you need to understand that acceptance can be both a tool of dissatisfaction and happiness. Things you can’t change must be embraced and you need to love those things; but things that can and must be changed require your immediate attention.

You are a growing and constantly evolving person and, everything that you do needs to be done in your best interest. For example, let’s say that you have made a number of bad choices in your past that have impacted your social and financial life. While you need to accept that these choices have been made and accept the experience that got you there, you shouldn’t accept your situation.

Knowing what needs to be changed and what needs to be embraced boils down to one thing: does it allow you to live a happy life?

If it is (realistically) impacting you in a negative manner, it needs to go.

If it impacts you but it is a result of negative self-image and is not something that would need to be changed otherwise, embrace it.

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If it is something that you are still going to change regardless, proceed with caution.

All paths should ultimately lead to happiness.[3]

Final Thoughts

You are you and that is something that is never going to change. When you learn to accept yourself and work towards the best version of you that you can be, you set yourself up for a life that has an abundance of happiness and progress.

Need some extra help implementing the tips that you learned above? Take a look at these articles:

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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Dylan Buckley

Dylan is Lifehack's Motivation Expert specializing in self-development, with extensive experience working for life coaches and startups.

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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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