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20 Things Only Women Turning 40 Would Understand

20 Things Only Women Turning 40 Would Understand

Ageing is something that is often only talked about in hushed voices with a carefully chosen group of friends. People fear old age, and that’s completely normal, but counting 40 as old age is a really silly thing to do. I guess we can just blame Hollywood or fashion magazines for the unrealistic expectations we have when it comes to beauty and ageing, particularly for women, but they are not the only ones that demonize mature women. The media went crazy with the recent Caitlyn Jenner story, and some of the remarks related to age were just appalling.

Well, you know what, I’ve learned a lot from the older women in my life, and I hope I’ll be able to share some of the great advice and life lessons with the younger generations one day. Turning forty is nothing to fear. In fact, it has its own set of unique perks, and there are lots of important things a woman learns by the time she turns forty.

1. We have to learn to let people down gently

While it may be much less time consuming and irritating to just turn someone down with a few simple words and a cold stare,  it’s usually not the best way to go about things. Whether it’s a guy at the club asking for your number, or a friend looking for a favour, you need to gracefully decline people in order to avoid conflict or feeling bad afterwards.

2. We know no one else can tell you how to live your life

Your parents, as well as every grandmother, aunt, cousin, sister, brother, friend, boyfriend or girlfriend, and colleague will have something to say about how you should live your life. You can’t please everyone, so don’t try to please anyone and just do the things that make you happy. It’s good to ask for some feedback, but it is ultimately your life and your opinion is the one that counts.

3. We will earn lots of respect and trust through the art of active listening

It can be difficult for people to keep quiet and let another person speak for a while, and even then a lot of us are just thinking about what we are going to say next instead of absorbing what the other person is trying to tell us. Active listening is a skill, and as a woman matures, she learns just how powerful of a tool, or even a weapon, it can be.

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4. We do whatever it takes to feel sexy and confident

You may feel like the person you are is dictated by the way you look, and you may feel like you can’t change the cards that you have been dealt. However, it’s all about how you feel on the inside and your actions that can be used to define you, and you have the right to feel good in your own body.

There’s a lot you can do about aesthetic issues like having bags under your eyes, wrinkles or any other features that you don’t find too appealing. Exercise, aesthetic surgery and good cosmetics can make you feel sexy and confident, and it is incredibly important that you feel this way on a daily basis. But remember that you don’t need to change a thing about yourself, because you’re already beautiful.

5. We know that when we want something done right, we have to do it ourselves

Delegating your work is sometimes necessary, but it’s a bad idea to get used to relying on others for help. Not only are a lot of people a bit irresponsible, but you also get things done a lot quicker when you do them yourself without waiting on others and getting stressed about the whole situation.

6. We need only a couple of good girlfriends and a bottle of wine to get through tough times

Never keep things bottled up inside for too long – calling up a couple of friends, opening a bottle of wine and having a good long talk is one of the best ways to let go of frustrations and grudges. It is a form of mental cleansing that every woman should do at least once a week.

7. We have to calm ourselves down first, before trying to calm others down

You may think that you are being the rational and collected one who is waving a white flag and offering peace, but nine times out ten both parties in an argument are acting out without even noticing it. There always needs to be one side that is somewhat calm if you don’t want things to get out of hand, so it’s very important to take a few deep breaths and calm yourself down, before trying to talk another person down.

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8. We find quality sleep to be the elixir of youth

Some say it’s the food we eat, others stress the benefits of exercise, and romantics point to love, but, while all these things are good for your physical and mental well-being, a full 8-9 hours of quality sleep every night will really do wonders for you. Sure, sometimes we need to sacrifice a bit of sleep for an evening of good sex, but we should strive to get as much rest as we can during the week.

9. We understand that there’s a difference between having fun and wasting money

When you’re younger you simply throw money away in the name of fun and relaxation, not really caring about saving up. However, as any responsible mature woman who has dabbled in couponing will tell you, there is a way to spend less without sacrificing much in the way of comfort. Spending a Friday night at home and cooking your own dinner is perfectly fine, as a few quiet nights will allow you to save enough money to go on a vacation in a few months.

10. We know jealousy, envy and anger just drain our energy and ruin relationships

People can be quite bad at times, and it is good to keep your guard up or even get emotional every now and then. However, strong emotions can hijack your life and ruin relationships if you let them. Sure, we will all become jealous or angry at some point, but you need to be confident enough to keep your feelings under control. Having something lingering in the back of your mind doesn’t do you any good. You can get addicted to feeling sad or angry, but letting go is the best option.

11. We’ll drop a topic if someone isn’t nearly as enthusiastic about it as we are

Did you ever get the feeling that people weren’t that into a topic you were passionately raving on about for 30 minutes? Let’s be honest, I’ve been guilty of this many times myself, and a lot of people will let you ramble on for fear of offending you. The simple solution is to drop the conversation when you sense indifference, but this requires some of that active listening we mentioned before, i.e. allowing other people to chime in with their opinion. You’ll also have to pick up on the subtle, and not so subtle body language cues that are a clear indication that your friend is disinterested and bored.

12. We have life experience that trumps book smarts and theoretical skill

You’ll meet tons of vibrant young people who talk about life, love, philosophy and politics, but it’s easy to see that they parrot a few articles and the 2-3 books that they’ve read. And that’s if they care enough to do some research. You, on the other hand, have 20 or more years of firsthand experience with all manner of people and situations, which means that your opinions will have more weight, and that you can outperform ambitious, but inexperienced youngsters.

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13. We get to have plenty of great sex

With all that life experience, financial freedom, confidence and sexiness, expect to have some great sex. While the old belief that women reach their sexual peak later in life has been challenged by recent studies, you can’t argue with the fact that at this point you are more in-tune with your body and a whole lot more experienced with romance. We know how to pick out the good ones when choosing a partner, and we know full-well how to make him or her happy.

14. We have learnt to get along with the people we work with

Every woman has her share of workplace stress, and a few stories about difficult co-workers that she likes to tell in order to vent a bit, but in the long run it’s best to develop a positive relationship with the people at work. Many business professionals have stressed the importance of team building activities, and even something as simple as a night at the bar with some of your colleagues can really help ease tension at work by building trust and empathy between you.

15. We hold ourselves accountable, which makes solving problems much easier

The moment you start acknowledging the fact that you are responsible for your own life choices, and that there isn’t always someone to blame for your misfortune, is the moment you begin to work harder on solving the problems that keep pulling you back. Giving up the notion that you are somehow owed something by those around you or society in general is the most liberating experience.

16. We have overcome adversity, and we know what we are truly capable off

We all think we’d do well in certain situations and fail miserably at others, but when faced with these situations a lot of people find that the opposite is truth – you might choke up while giving a speech that you have practiced for hours and hours, and on the other hand you might pull someone out of a car wreck and safe his or her life while others stand by paralyzed with shock.

You need a bit of adversity to help strengthen your character and let you find out things about yourself you didn’t know before. At forty, you’ve got plenty of adversity behind you, and you know yourself much better. To paraphrase an ancient general and master strategist: if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.

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17. We know our limits, and that actually makes us stronger

The feeling of invincibility you have as a teenager and young adult slowly goes away as you come face to face with some of the harsh realities of the world, but knowing exactly where your limits lie doesn’t clip your wings and make you abandon your dreams. In fact, this knowledge only helps you adapt and choose the best strategy when faced with a challenge.

18. We allow other people to have different opinions

Immature people tend to be very arrogant and think that their opinion is all that matters. Even in terms of fashion sense or taste in music, which are incredibly subjective, some people think that what they like is “the right way”, and will put everyone else down. Over the years, you learn to live and let live – cohabiting, going out and having fun with people with views and sensibilities fairly different from your own.

19. We know love can grow, blossom, and wither away, but you will find it again

When you’re younger love is this huge thing that makes you feel like no one’s ever felt before. However, all relationships go through several phases. The truth is that you can fall deeply in love with someone over several months, feel that your heart is so full that it could just burst, get so attached to them in the next couple of years that you can’t imagine life without them, and then just have that feeling slip away quietly, leaving you indifferent and lonely.

People can also turn out to be jerks, and outside factors may pull people apart. The good news is that we can find this feeling over and over with the right people, and it may even last a lifetime if you find someone who’ll work as hard on the relationship as you will.

20. We are able to provide for ourselves and those we love, and it gives us tons of confidence

One of the biggest problems with self-esteem in young people stems from the fact that they are overly-dependent on others. Their parents have a big say in how and what they do, their peers affect the way they dress and behave, and they are limited by a lack of funds and skills. A woman turning 40 is able to provide for herself and the people she loves, and this gives her the confidence to be herself, stand up for her beliefs, and challenge others when they step over the line. There is no feeling like having enough financial independence to call your own shots.

When all is said and done, life beyond forty presents an exciting new chapter in every woman’s life. Reaching a mature age is not viewed as something negative – at forty we still have plenty of time to enjoy ourselves, only now you know better and can make smarter decisions.

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Katarina Milovanovic

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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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