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Living in Fear? 14 Ways to Live Life Free of Fear and Full of Hope

Living in Fear? 14 Ways to Live Life Free of Fear and Full of Hope

Can you see yourself sitting down watching the sunset, the waves lapping the white sand beach as the evening’s last rays of sunshine warm you? A book lies forgotten in your lap and all you are thinking about is how wonderful it is to be you, right here, right now.

Compare this to you watching the sunset and feeling guilty that you should be making dinner, finishing a work assignment, doing laundry, calling your mother or anything other than just enjoying yourself.

Somewhere along the line, feeling guilty, fearful, and unhappy has become the norm. It is almost expected. What happened to us to take away our feeling of excitement for what tomorrow holds and replaced it with worry?

It is time to revisit the things that caused this change, and to nullify their effects on us. Keep reading for 14 ways to live a life free of fear and full of hope.

1. Let Go of Pre-Existing Ideas That Don’t Make Sense

My friend and radio co-host, Sally Nutter, told me about a time she thought she couldn’t eat a pizza because she couldn’t find a knife to cut it. She finally realized that she could tear it up and enjoy it just as much.

There are so many ideas that are set in our minds early on and never looked at again. We do the darndest things for no other reason than we have always done them that way, or someone told us it was the right way to do it.

Start looking at the things you do. Re-evaluate the things that bug you. If they don’t make sense, do it your own way!

2. Know Your Own Power

Everyone doubts their ability to make things go right. Many times, these doubts have nothing to do with whether we can or can’t, but they make us very unhappy.

Take a look at the doubts you have and put them into words. What, or who, made you feel doubtful? As we grow, doubts can be sown in our minds. They can be stated outright or simply implied. Remember that this is someone else’s opinion and can be discarded no matter how much they assert it as truth.

Look at these doubts in the present and decide whether they are true for you. Discard the ones that don’t make sense.

3. Look Carefully at the Things You Are Afraid Of

I had a friend who I wanted to take traveling with me, but she was afraid of flying. Back in the 80s, planes were falling out of the sky and many of us developed fears based on media reports.

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In order to help her out, I sent her to a site that outlined all of the advancements that have been made, and how safe airplanes are today. There were details of exactly how these new things worked and the statistics on safety. She felt a lot better after that.

Things in the past can impact how we view things in the present. Look at current information on things that make you fearful and see if you are worrying over something with relatively low risk.

4. Trust Yourself

Somehow you have made it through everything life has thrown at you and you are still in the game. Although life is uncertain, take a minute to look at all of the seemingly impossible times you have had to deal with. Think about all the times you asked yourself if you would make it through.

Somehow you did it. You may not have done it gracefully, but you did it!

Have faith that whatever happens in the future, you will find a way to deal with it.

5. Quit Looking for Stuff to Fix

There are many home improvement shows, and I love them, but there are times when we should be happy with what we see in front of us.

Our houses are not model houses. We live in them. They will, at times, be untidy and look lived in.

Relax if something needs to be fixed. Trust that you will get to it. But for now, just enjoy.

6. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

When we go through tough times, we adopt survival patterns that work for the rough times, but are not necessarily right for everyday living.

We may have decided to worry about the small things, so they don’t get away from us. It takes the joy out of life.

If something goes wrong, you will notice and handle it. Most of the small stuff irons itself out.

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7. Remind Yourself That You Are Worthy

There are many messages tossed at us in life. Most of the time, they are attempts to get us to buy something. We are told we are not thin enough, smart enough, educated enough, or cool enough.

Here is a new take on these things:

You are enough.

You are enough no matter what you weigh. You are enough no matter what your IQ is. You are enough if you decide that you are.

These things are up to you, not anyone else. Know that you, as you are, are worthy of love, happiness, and all the good things in life.

Take a look at this guide and know your own worth: How to Raise Your Self Worth and Trust Yourself More

8. No Matter What Is Bugging You, You Can Always Do Something About It

Looking at your situation right now, it may look pretty bleak. But no matter what is happening in your life, there is always something that you can do about it.

If there is something bugging you, sit down and figure out some things you can do about it and then go and do them.

9. Hang out with Positive People

There is nothing more discouraging than someone who is apathetic and makes it known to everyone around him or her, or the person who is always angry or sad no matter what you do to help them.

These people can bring us down. Limit your exposure to these people. The majority of your time should be spent with dynamic people who are happy and get things done.

People who find ways of handling things in life are the people who feed you positive energy.

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10. Don’t Let Anyone Insult, Manipulate, or Use You

This can be hard to spot but whenever you feel uncomfortable around someone or feel as if you are walking on eggshells, chances are they are doing or saying things that bring you down and make you liable to manipulation.

Social rules can make it difficult to stand up for yourself when someone is negative or insulting but, that is what that person is counting on.

People who covertly insult you are counting on the fact that you feel you are being rude if you point out that they have acted thoughtlessly. But they are the ones who lack manners.

If someone treats you bad, just remember that there is something wrong with them, not you. Normal people don’t go around destroying other people.

If someone insults you, you have every right to cordially insist that they treat you with respect. It is not good manners to sit there and be abused. If someone insulted your spouse or child, you would rise to their defense. Why not rise to your own defense?

11. Don’t Set Personal Goals Based on External Influences

Last week, I was talking about goals with my brilliant friend, Julia. She reminded me that it can be damaging to set personal goals based on external factors over which we have limited or no control.

For example, having a personal goal of winning a dance competition is an external goal because you never know when the judges will be biased, or some other competitor has a better day than you. Having a personal goal of learning a highly technical program, on the other hand, is a good internal goal because it is something over which you have complete control.

Look over your goals and revise them so that you are in control of the outcome.

Take a look at this guide and learn how to set goals: How to Set Goals and Achieve Them Successfully

12. Throw Away the Newspapers

Most of what is written in the newspapers is BAD NEWS! There is nothing like something very scary to make people buy and read newspapers. Have you noticed that there is rarely, if ever, good news on the front page?

Good news exists everywhere. You don’t have to look hard to find it. If you are having trouble believing this, write down all of the good things you see in a day. People open doors for others, people put on benefit concerts to raise money for injured or ill people. The list can go on.

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I fully believe that there’s way more great things happen each day than bad things, and I challenge anyone to prove otherwise.

13. Work with Children

My job is teaching music to children. It is the best job I can think of. Children are so bright, adorable and fun. They are excited about the future, even if the future is a sleepover or a movie. Kids are more balanced than the average adult because they have not learned to be worried or fearful.

Working with children in whatever capacity you can puts you in the same mindset. I get swept away daily by these kids and their ideas. It is the highlight of my life.

14. Listen to Music or Take a Look at Some High Quality Art

Art and music are the antidote to the stress and negativity of life. It is like the Yin and Yang. It is your choice whether to focus on the good or the bad. Contrary to what many people believe, art and music are not just whimsical pursuits; they are the breath of life.

Many articles tell you to focus on the good but, they don’t tell you that you have to make an effort to go out and find the good. It doesn’t just come to you.

Go to Youtube and find music you love, look at websites and books to find art that makes you happy. Bookmark them and go to them often. Make it a large part of your life to seek out and enjoy these things.

Tip the balance in favor of things that make you really happy. This has a profound effect on your happiness level.

Go have a look in the dusty corners of your mind and pull out some of your old decisions and thoughts about things. Take a look at them in the bright light of day and see if they still make sense. If not, toss them in the trash and move on!

Good Luck!

More About Living a Fearless Life

Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

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Chris Ellis

Successful Author, Life Coach and Musician

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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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