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10 Things You Need To Stop Doing During Hard Times

10 Things You Need To Stop Doing During Hard Times

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.

—Benjamin Franklin

People in general can be described as social animals. We need interaction with others in order to develop. Most people do not like the initial stages of adversity. Conflict and difficulty create uncertainty and impact our judgment and focus.

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As much as people try to avoid it, hard times are a part of life. Positive change can come from conflict. The key is to deal with the issues at hand and push through towards resolution. Avoidance and inaction only intensify the problem.  Stop doing these 10 things so that you can push through hard times.

1. Hiding from reality.

There is a classic bumper sticker stating, “Life Is A Beach.” Sometimes this is not true. Tough things happen and are part of reality. You cannot ignore problems and wish them away. Accept things for what they are. It is the first step to overcoming obstacles.

2. Playing the blame game.

Picture this scenario. Your neighbor has a brand new SUV in their driveway. You see your 6 year old sedan in yours. You want to get a better vehicle but financially are not able. Resentment may build for your neighbor’s ability to buy the car. However, the responsibility ultimately rests with you. Accept your situation and take accountability so you can move on.

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3. Reliving the past.

Most people seem to have a stage that they look back on where life was good. Too many think back on those times and wish to relive them. It is not possible to go back in time and relive memories. Think back on them to remember what made them good. Use those memories as momentum to create positive things now and in your future. Alternatively, if you tend to relive negative memories, try to let them go. You can’t change what happened in the past; you can only change what is going to happen in the future.

4. Being complacent.

Have you ever seen an upset three year old curl up in a ball and suck his thumb? It looks cute for a three year old, but not for an adult. But that is what you are doing when you are complacent. Problems do not take care of themselves. Take action, even if it is the wrong action, to get through hard times.

5. Worrying too much.

It is natural for us as people to have blinders on. When hard times occur we have a narrow of view of things.  Remember the big picture of situations. Sometimes you will see a solution that you may not have realized before.

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6. Thinking it’s worse than it is.

You feel like you are pushing a boulder up a hill when faced with difficulties. But a solution can be found with resolve and tenacity. Take personal debt as an example. It may seem overwhelming, but can be overcome with planning and time. Work at a problem and eventually it will be overcome.

7. Not smiling.

You have probably heard the saying, “it takes more muscles to frown than to smile.” When complications in life occur, it is easy for us to have a miserable outlook. Smile more and be good natured to others even through difficulties. That attitude will reciprocate and help buoy your spirits.

8. Not having answers.

Information is so readily available in this day and age. You can just Google anything or check out topics on Wikipedia. When conflict occurs it seems like there are no answers. Take a step back and look at the problems you face. Get input from others with a different perspective.

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9. Procrastinating.

Imagine walking down the street and then stopping. You don’t move forward or back; you just stand there. It may seem kind of silly, but that is what you do when you procrastinate. Part of the problem may be “analysis paralysis,” which when you over-think something instead of taking action. Set a goal and work towards reaching it.

10. Doing it alone.

When hard times occur you may feel the need to tackle problems on your own. This could stem from feelings of guilt or frustration. There are times when you need to reach out to others for assistance. Everyone is wired differently and have different ways of thinking. Use the experience of others to get through hard times. The time may come when they may need your help.

History provides great examples of hardships faced by people throughout the world, with stories of how adversity was overcome and triumph followed. This can happen for each of us in our own lives. This post started with a quote from Benjamin Franklin and ends with one from Kelly Clarkson: “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

 

Featured photo credit: Tambako The Jaguar via flickr.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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