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10 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself Today

10 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself Today

Isn’t life challenging enough as it is? You don’t have to make it any worse by doing things you should not do to yourself. Family and Relationships author Maria Robinson says “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Rather than continue making the wrong choices and focusing on the wrong things, you can give yourself a fresh start by avoiding those things that bring hurt and pain. Here are 10 things you should stop doing to yourself from today.

1. Stop criticizing yourself

Give yourself a break already! Everyone makes mistakes. There is nobody in this world who is perfect. Wallowing in the dark pit of regret and self-criticism does not solve anything; it only dampens your spirit and causes physical and emotional pain and hurt. Stop it now. You may wring your hands and loathe yourself for a little while, but don’t do it too long or you will create a problem that wasn’t even there to begin with. Let go once you have fully processed your mistake and replace the self-loathing and criticism with self-reassurance and determination. Tell yourself you will do better next time.

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2. Stop believing the negative opinions of others

People say nasty things to each other every day and it has been so for eons. Whether someone says something negative about you out of love or hate, it’s going to hurt to some degree. That said, don’t take things too personally and let negative opinions bring you down. Just because someone says you are “crazy,” “lazy” or “worthless” doesn’t mean it is true. Les Brown says, “Other people’s opinions of you do not have to become your reality” and he is right. Take negative opinions with a grain of salt. You are stronger and more capable than people think and you prove this when you rise up and keep going. Correct what needs correcting and ignore what needs ignoring.

3. Stop focusing on what you don’t have

You can never have everything you want in life and focusing too much on what you don’t have can be a terrible waste of time, energy and resources. Instead of coveting what you don’t have, focus on being grateful for what you do have. Rather than think about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that others are missing. Believe it or not, no matter how bad you think you have it, someone somewhere is having it worse. So, wake up each day thankful for your life and draw strength from a deep reservoir of gratitude for the things you do have that mean something in your life.

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4. Stop putting yourself last

It’s not fun being last all the time and you know it. Why put all your energy, time and resources into your job, friends, colleagues and even family until you have nothing left for yourself? Yes, sacrifice, duty, responsibility are all good and important, but if you keep putting yourself last and don’t take care of yourself, you’ll eventually have less and less to give until you have absolutely nothing left to offer. Continue putting yourself last and you will be drained, overwhelmed and susceptible to stress, depression and other health problems. Take care of yourself first. This is not selfishness; it is wisdom for living.

5. Stop spending time with the wrong people

Ever wondered why successful people leave their loser friends behind? It’s because, as Jim Rohn famously put it, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Life is too short to surround yourself with people who bring you down, suck the happiness out of you or have no ambitions whatsoever in life. Surround yourself with people who will uplift you—not those who undermine your worth. Mark Twain notes: “Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”

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6. Stop worrying too much

If your problems can be solved, there is no reason to worry? If your problems cannot be solved, worrying will do you no good. The only thing that worrying does really well is aggravate the situation and strip you of the joys of today. Take a deep breath and relax. Don’t let worry paralyze you. If you made it this far, there is no reason why you will not make it in the future. Life always has a way of working things out for the better in the end.

7. Stop trying to be someone you’re not

There is only one you in the entire world—dare I say the entire universe! Trying to be someone you are not or worse someone else you think is smarter or prettier than you is futile. You can only be you and others can only be who they were created to be. You may emulate some good qualities of people you admire, but only to complement (not replace) who you are as a person. Just enjoy being yourself and you will ultimately draw the right people who will love and appreciate you genuinely.

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8. Stop having unrealistic expectations

We all want to be happy in life and have every right to purse happiness, but we set ourselves up for sore disappointment when we have unrealistic or unreasonable expectations. For example: don’t expect to be the CEO of your company overnight. It won’t happen. Consider your talents, skills, qualifications and experiences and weigh these against your aspirations and vision for the future. Align everything with the circumstances of your life and set realistic goals and expectations.

 9. Stop trying to buy happiness

You can buy a sleek, new Lamborghini, build a mansion on the hill and fly to exotic lands at will and still not be happy. The things that bring true joy and happiness in life are often free. Laughter, love, talent, passion, compassion are totally free. Don’t try to buy happiness or worry too much about whether life is fair or not. Just get on with it and extract happiness from common things around you. Nathaniel Hawthorne says: “Happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

 10. Stop giving up too soon

Life will throw many trials and challenges you way. That is what makes living so exciting. If you give up too soon, you miss out on the thrills and chills of living a full life. Keep pressing on and be alert and open to encouragement from unexpected places. Good things come to those who persevere. Besides, as Jane Addams rightly observes, nothing could be worse than given up too soon and leaving one unexpended effort that might have saved the world.

Can you think of any other thing people should stop doing today?

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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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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