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3 Ways to Permanently Increase Your Self-Esteem

3 Ways to Permanently Increase Your Self-Esteem

There aren’t many things that are more important to your well-being than your self-esteem. I describe self-esteem as the reputation your consciousness has with itself: whether you think you are worthy of happiness or not depends on your self-esteem—it dictates how much you value yourself and your life.

For you, as an individual, there is nothing more important than valuing yourself and your life. Everything depends on it. The happiness of your family depends on it. It determines how you will interact with your environment, and whether or not that interaction is going to be mostly positive or mostly negative.

Here are three things you can start doing today to increase your self confidence. These are’t quick fixes; they will work, but it’s going to take a little time. It’s worth sticking it out to the end because when they do work, the changes in your mindset and your self-esteem will stay with you for life.

Get to Know Yourself

Who are you? What motivates you? What saddens you? Why are you driven by one thing but not another thing? Why do you feel upset in one situation and not in another situation? What are your values and beliefs? Where did they come from?

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This introspection is going to be exhausting at first, but once you make it a habit to question every emotion that you have and validate it, you’ll begin to see a pattern. This pattern will be a map to the source of any negative emotions.

Once you find the source, kill it and have no mercy. It has no business bringing you down. It’s important to be hard on the gremlins that want to destroy you, but you also need to have compassion for yourself. Never talk down to yourself or abuse yourself. Repeat this process until you know yourself inside and out; until you understand everything you feel and why you feel it.

Then repeat it again until you understand everything you do and why you do it.

When you discover something poisonous, you have to get rid of it. It takes a while to eliminate a behavior/thought/habit you’ve had for a long time, but it’s not impossible, and doing so is essential to the quality of your life and the lives of those around you.

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Put Yourself First, Always

I know that this sounds counter-intuitive to everything you’ve been taught about being a good person, but I promise you that if you want to build your self-esteem and keep it for the rest of your life, then the first thing you have to do is put yourself first. Before everything.

When you put yourself first you acknowledge that you’re worth it. Whatever “it” is.

For example, if someone asked you to watch their cat for a weekend, and you hate cats, then you should say no. If the benefit you are going to get out of watching the cat (seeing your friend happy/feeling good about doing a good deed) is not going to outweigh the problems that it’s going to bring you (you hate cats with a fiery passion) then don’t do it. Take care of yourself first.

On the other hand, if this person is your daughter and making her happy outweighs the agony of the cat’s presence in your house, then do it.

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Do what makes you feel the best without hurting anyone else. Don’t let anyone call you selfish—they cannot expect you to sacrifice yourself for them. Asking you to do so means they are telling you that they are worth more than you are, and that will bring down your self confidence.

The most confident people in the world take care of themselves first. After they’ve done a good job with that, then they start to give.Happy people give naturally. Don’t underestimate the greatness that is the human being—we are inherently good; you are inherently good.

Don’t accept undeserved guilt.

One of the worst things that you can do for your self-esteem is to accept guilt for something when you did nothing to deserve it.

Let’s take the example from above. Say you told your daughter that you would absolutely not watch her cat, because her cat scratches you, pees in your air ducts, and smells like a garbage can. You hate it and you just won’t do it. Don’t let her make you feel guilty for not wanting to do it, even if she says, “But you’re my mom! Who else am I going to go to but my mom! You’re supposed to be there for me!”

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Being there for her does not include allowing yourself to suffer because she wants to go away for a weekend. Put the dang cat in a kennel and be done with it! Your daughter isn’t going to die or suffer any major injury. Put your foot down and make her respect your limits and boundaries—you’re not a doormat.

Bottom Line

It all boils down to how well you know yourself and how well you treat yourself. As I said earlier, your self-esteem is the reputation you have with your inner self. Make sure that reputation is good by taking care of it and treating it with respect. Never put it on the backburner, never make it feel bad for no reason, and make an effort to get to know it.

If you do those three things consistently, your reputation will skyrocket.

 

 

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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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