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12 Common Beliefs That Keep You Stuck in Life

12 Common Beliefs That Keep You Stuck in Life

Being stuck can be one of the worst feelings. It’s frustrating and it can leave you feeling hopeless. However, it can almost always get turned around. If you’ve been feeling stuck in your life recently, one of these twelve things might be to blame. After all, knowing the source of the problem is the first step to correcting it.

1. You feel like you need to be perfect. 

No one is perfect, and that’s a simple fact. While it’s commendable to give something your all, it’s another thing entirely to expect perfection from yourself. Whether it’s at work, in your love life or in another situation entirely, it’s important to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed by unattainable perfection.

2. You think your dreams are unreachable. 

Feeling stuck in a job you don’t like, or worse, being unemployed, can make you feel like your dreams are completely out of your reach. It’s important to remember that your dreams are attainable no matter your circumstances. It might require a lot of work on your part, but reaching your goal is not something that should make you feel stuck in any way — rather, it should make you feel excited at the prospect of finally reaching it.

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3. You feel obligated to spend time with certain people. 

If someone in your life is unhealthy for you, then they should not be a part of your life any longer. It’s as simple as that. If that person is a family member, or someone that you can’t easily remove from your life, try to limit the amount of time you spend with that person. It’s only going to make you feel worse to keep someone in your life who makes you feel badly about yourself.

4. You think you stick out. 

The feeling of not fitting in is something that everyone has experienced. It’s just a matter of finding people who understand you and make you feel good about yourself. There’s no such thing as being cool or popular if you just let yourself believe that. Being yourself is the best possible thing you can do.

5. You play too many parts. 

It can be very frustrating to have to be too many people at once: spouse, parent, boss, employee — the list goes on and on. It’s important to balance these roles by remembering that you’re still you. While it can be overwhelming, it can be incredibly helpful to just take a deep breath and go in knowing that whatever role you’re fulfilling, you’re still you.

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6. You have too many five-year plans. 

Plans for the future need to reflect real goals and aspirations. If you make too many five-year plans and hold yourself to unrealistic expectations, it can take a toll on your mental health. Keep yourself in check and don’t write anything down that you don’t really want to set as a goal. Waffling can make you feel very stuck.

7. You have to make too many people happy. 

It’s one thing to try to make others happy because you enjoy it and find it rewarding, but it’s another thing entirely to find it a chore. If you’re always putting others’ happiness before your own, try to take some time for yourself. Even twenty minutes of time alone can do wonders.

8. You have too much routine in your life. 

Nothing makes you feel more stuck than simply doing the same things over and over again. Routine can be great at keeping you on track, but too much of it can become monotonous and boring. Shake things up a bit.

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9. You don’t cut yourself any slack. 

It’s important to remember that you’re only human, and that sometimes it’s okay to give yourself a break. Holding yourself too accountable to things can be too much to handle.

10. You feel like you have to keep up appearances. 

Lying to others about your feelings is only going to make things worse. It’s okay to feel vulnerable. Don’t try to put on a mask and hope things will work themselves out.

11. You don’t let others help you. 

Letting other people in and sharing your feelings and fears with them can be very helpful. Sometimes a listener is all you need, while other times it’s a dose of good advice.

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12. You forget that you’re only human. 

There’s only so much you can deal with at any given time. Let yourself relax and be happy. Sometimes feeling stuck in your life can be remedied by a deep breath. Just slow down and be optimistic about the future.

Featured photo credit: net_efekt via photopin.com

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Maggie Heath

Maggie is a passionate writer who blogs about communication and lifestyle on Lifehack.

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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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