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10 Ways to Annihilate Fear

10 Ways to Annihilate Fear

We all have things we fear. Some fears are more concrete, like the terror of spiders and snakes, while some fears go much deeper, sabotaging us so that we are unable to follow our dreams. Too often, we avoid our fears, unwilling to acknowledge that we have them. We hope that if we don’t give breath to their existence, they will become less real… It rarely works this way.

Instead, let’s put on a brave face and tackle our fears. In the darkness of ignorance, the monsters still reign over us, but in the light of knowledge and acceptance, they are seen for what they are: simply self-made straw men—unworthy of the terror they command.

1. Give up fear of failure

Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement. – C. S. Lewis

Fear of failure is a huge problem for many people. Some people are so afraid to fail, they never try to do great things. However, most great successes are paved with failures. If you are afraid to fail, you will be too paralyzed to really excel. Many times, it is the failure that guides people to their greatest success. Learn to embrace it. A great question to ask yourself is, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” Write down your answer, and then go do it.

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2. Know thine enemy

The first duty of man is to conquer fear; he must get rid of it; he cannot act till then.” Thomas Carlyle

Often, when we examine fear, we see that it’s just the unknown portion that scares us. We often fear what we don’t understand. When you take the time to understand why you’re afraid, you can properly address it. Instead of looking at the future expecting the worst to happen, turn your belief system around and expect the best. Often, dwelling on our fears gives them a voice of prediction in our lives. Don’t give fear that foothold. Envision your future as one full of hope and excitement!

3. Focus on past success

Ultimately, we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom.” – Marilyn Ferguson

Our own visualization of fear often brings it to fruition. Think about when you are about to speak in public: a huge fear for some. Instead of seeing yourself doing well, you may think about how you might stutter over your sentences. What happens? You lose your train of thought and blow the presentation. You then reaffirm the belief that messing up speeches is all that you are capable of doing. Instead, focus on your past success. Remember how you did well speaking in rehearsals and visualize yourself giving the best speech of your life. What happens? You do amazingly! Visualization techniques are utilized by athletes and businessmen alike. Instead of giving fear any credence, conceptualize yourself successfully conquering fear—what you envision often will become reality.

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4. Realize that fear is often an illusionist

Fear is static that prevents me from hearing myself.” – Samuel Butler

Most of the things that we worry about never actually happen. Even when our worst fears do happen, we realize that it isn’t actually as bad as we believed. It’s like when you first start riding a bike: before you fall for the first time, the distance from the ground and the speed that the rocks whizz by seem so intimidating. However, once you fall and realize the actual impact isn’t nearly as bad as your imagination, you can ride confidently. Sure, it hurts to fall, but the joy of the ride is worth the risk. Give yourself permission to examine the worst-case scenario. Even if the catastrophe happened, in the grand scheme of life, is it really worth the anxiety? Probably not. You are tougher than you realize and will get through any humbling experience with more wisdom on better ways to go about your goals.

5. There are no monsters under your bed

There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.” – Andre Gide

Some people have unrealistic belief systems, but they don’t acknowledge how nonsensical they sound until they are forced to think it through. For example, ascribing to a belief that demands that every person you interact with will like you is doomed to failure. It’s just not logical that you can meet every expectation of every person. Accepting this fact and understanding that disappointing others will happen in life often helps people address these unrealistic beliefs that cause them anxiety.

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6. Kill the moles before they make mountains

We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.” – Christian Nestell Bovee

Some people make things much worse in their own head than they are in reality, causing themselves more pain and greater fear. For example, imagine a person who fears societal judgements. They often do things they don’t want to do because they are worried that saying “no” will cause people to reject them. When asked if they would think poorly of a different individual who said they didn’t want to do something, the person will usually say that they would understand. When you ask them to turn this around and ascribe this same amiable attitude within themselves to others, they realize most people think as they do and would sympathize if they didn’t go along with their every whim. The fears in their heads make other people more easy to offend than reality.

7. Plan to strike at first dawn

I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” – Rosa Parks

If certain fears are crippling your life, put together a plan to stand up to them. There is no shame in seeking help from a qualified counselor. You can also share your fears with mentors and accountability partners to help you work through them. Write down goals that help you face your fears in a healthy way so you can break free to a no-limits life.

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8. Fear the un-lived life

Great work is done by people who are not afraid to be great.” – Fernando Flores

One great visualization technique is to look at what holding onto your fear is doing to your future. Think about what would happen if you were never brave enough to change your thinking. If you are afraid to talk to others now, how will this impact your dating and social life years later? If you are afraid to take risks, what opportunities are you missing that could change your lifestyle for the better? If you are afraid to look silly at the gym, what illness can sneak into your life in a few more years due to excess weight or unhealthy habits? Let your un-altered future scare you enough to change it.

9. Feel the fear and do it anyway!

To fight fear, act. To increase fear – wait, put off, postpone.” – David Joseph Schwartz

Sometimes, you just have to jump. There are so many experiences (some did involve jumping) that I would have missed out on if I gave in to my fears. Your life will be much more full with memories of how you felt afraid, pushed past it, and learned you are stronger than you ever thought possible. Pushing past the fear creates self confidence, and you become emboldened to take on more challenges in life, even if they scare you. Once you accept that growth begins outside of your comfort zone, you are ready to challenge yourself to face your worst demons.

10. Create dreams that make you brave

In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” – Bill Cosby

Sometimes, people are often not motivated to face their fears because they haven’t entertained what life can be like on the other side of them. When you allow yourself to dream, suddenly your fears pale in comparison to all the excitement of the brave new world just beyond them. Create dreams that inspire change. You will find that when you let go of the fear, you really are free to become the person you always knew you could be.

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Sarah Hansen

A corporate-sales professional turned entrepreneur

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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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