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10 Things You Don’t Need Anyone’s Approval For (Though You Think You Do)

10 Things You Don’t Need Anyone’s Approval For (Though You Think You Do)

You are probably a free person with access to the global Internet and similar luxuries. However, there’s one thing that’s dangerous to your freedom. It’s the seek for other people’s approval. Plenty of folks base their own lives on the opinions of others, afraid to lose validation and be criticized. To me, it’s a deadly disease that paralyzes your ability to pursue your dreams. Fortunately, it’s curable so anyone can reclaim their freedom.

If you are an unconfident person who often isn’t authentic in order to please other people and you’d like to change it, you are in the right place. Over time, you’ll laugh at your past fears and proudly follow your intuition in lieu of sticking to outdated dogmas.

1. You don’t need approval for changing your style.

Let’s begin with the appearance. Are you bored with your current look and you’d like to transform your image? You’d like to make a change, but people are used to your current presence and a drastic modification will definitely draw attention. You know what?

People may talk and judge, but that’s the way it works. You can either accept it and stay authentic anyway or you can live as a slave of their opinions. What might be shocking today, will become a boring reality over time, and you won’t even notice how quickly everyone will get used to your new self.

2. You don’t need approval for changing your social circle.

You are the reflection of the five people you spend the most time with. Without wishing to sound cliché, this sentence has to be mentioned since the most profound life lessons are actually found in adages. It might be the case that your current environment prevents you from becoming who you’d like to be. Some people are great companions, radiating with positive energy while others might spread nothing but negativity.

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It’s your responsibility to adjust your surroundings to your goals. If there’s a negative person in your life that you’d like to avoid, the last thing you should care about is that person’s approval for your decision. It’s tough, but if you feel deep within that change is necessary, go for it regardless of what others think.

3. You don’t need approval for changing your behavior.

Your family, friends, and colleagues may be used to a certain behavior you represent so once you start acting differently, it obviously puts you in the center of attention. Some might start to question that change, but this shouldn’t bother you. As long as you don’t hurt anyone, you have a full right to change the way you behave whenever you want.

If you are a shy or introverted person, however, you’d like to socialize more and become outgoing, the process of change will attract some attention. This might make you feel afraid of being judged, but same as for above examples, you don’t need anyone’s approval for such a transformation. Some people say, fake it until you make it. I would explicate it by saying that you fake it until you believe it. While you do it, forget about how others perceive you.

4. You don’t need approval for changing your beliefs.

Many people were raised according to certain beliefs and dogmas reckoned to be the best in their culture. The truth is, some folks born within that environment don’t accept these as the ultimate truths and see the world completely different.

However, there’s a social pressure which makes it harder to abandon the tradition. Conservative people brought up in that very culture will expect you to behave accordingly. Every move in the opposite direction causes disapproval. They are deeply convinced that’s the straight way to destroy your life, but the fact is, it’s you who’s living it.

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When I declared to my family that my personal beliefs vary a lot from what they taught me, at first, I faced huge disapproval. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised, but while stating it, I wasn’t looking for their approval, but just sharing the information. Over time, the tension fades away and you are happy about being authentic and true to yourself.

5. You don’t need approval for your life priorities.

The typical life priorities vary from culture to culture, however, they have one thing in common. Namely, people look skeptic whenever you refuse to follow. A young person nowadays is supposed to get a degree, get a good job, build a house, buy a fancy car and fully enjoy their success. For some, this might be the best scenario imaginable. Others might consider it a nightmare. Whatever applies to you, it’s your and only your business.

If your number one priority in life is to help people in need, but your parents dream of you becoming a lawyer, then you’ll definitely meet with disapproval. Disappointing your loved ones hurts both you and them. However, a life filled out with regret may be even more harmful. Oppose to misconceptions, it’s following your heart and intuition that’s closest to what you really want to achieve.

6. You don’t need approval for fulfilling your deepest desires.

You may want to do something so crazy that just thinking about it blows your mind. Something you always wanted to do, a desire hidden deep within your soul. But for some reason, you keep procrastinating and putting it off.

If “some reason” happens to be the criticism from your surroundings, it’s time to face the truth and abandon the seek for validation. Most people prefer safety and security. A person who hates sticking out from the crowd is not appropriate for a mentor when it comes to going insane so their approval is the last thing you’ll ever need.

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7. You don’t need approval for your relationship choices.

Relationship choices are fully private issues, yet plenty of people shamelessly judge others’ choices. What they base their judgments on, however, is just a surface. Only you and your loved one know each element of your relationship, that most people may not even notice.

Some relationships draw a lot of attention in certain cultures and experience social pressure and negativity. Narrow-minded people may try to destroy them, as they are deeply convinced they are unacceptable. The truth is, their disapproval doesn’t play any role. They may be loud, but their words are meaningless. Follow your heart and ignore the naysayers.

8. You don’t need approval for your passions.

Imagine a man pursuing to be a ballet dancer or a woman who falls in love with lifting weights. Both are incredibly passionate about it and highly determined to get to the top. There’s a beauty in how they spare no effort to overcome every obstacle and become better.

However, some people won’t notice that. The only thing they see is a controversy — people doing something they don’t consider adequate for their gender. These passionate individuals stick out, so the crowd notices and weak people laugh at them. They may lack approval from the society but in reality, they don’t need it.

Following your passion leads to success, even if there are countless failures along the way. At some point, your success and determination make the defeatists so small you no longer recognize them.

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9. You don’t need approval for your eating habits.

What you put in your body is what you become. Why would you let anyone determine that choice? Eating is such a basic task required to survive, yet it’s very controversial. Different diets and eating patterns are always a hot topic of discussion, be it in the mass media or on the Internet. For example, becoming a vegetarian or vegan can be perceived as crazy. Same thing applies when you base your diet mostly on meat and fats. It’s because “healthy” and “normal” are subjective words.

First of all, eating healthy is not an absolute value, various people see it differently. Secondly, you shouldn’t even care about eating “normally” because it varies from culture to culture. Stick to your personal choice regardless of the opinion of others. Ultimately, it’s your stomach that’s going to digest it.

10. You don’t need approval for following intuition.

There’s a voice hidden deep in your soul which gives you advice on how to act, also known as intuition. This instinct may serve you life-changing tips, but it definitely won’t give you any common advice. Following the typical path often conflicts with our hearts. Simply because the average life is not what we were meant for.

Then again, living a life driven by passion and inner desire isn’t easy. Being aberrational is uncomfortable since your intuition is constantly questioned by society’s norms. The fact is, once you accept that lack of approval for sticking to your instinct, you’ll feel more authentic, content and satisfied.

Featured photo credit: hipster modern stylish blonde man on rails in daily life via shutterstock.com

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Oskar Nowik

Oskar is a blogger and the author of "Brightening: The Positive Attitude That Will Change Your Life"

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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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