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4 Reasons to Stop Beating Yourself Up

4 Reasons to Stop Beating Yourself Up

We all get down on ourselves once in a while. It is a natural human instinct and can serve as a good motivation booster. Unfortunately, there are many who live daily with the notion that they will never be good enough. It is a crippling feeling that can affect any type of person from the most unsuccessful to the most successful. And why?

There are a million and one answers to that question and it varies from person to person. Much of the time, it is probably the way an individual learned to organize and filter their existence from a young age. It could have developed later after much failure and hardship. Who can say? It also doesn’t help that we live in a society that glorifies excessive beauty, wealth, and power. We are bombarded with a constant stream of media that tells us we need to be better in every way.

In the face of such powerful forces, it can be difficult to learn how to counteract the inevitable negativity those forces instigate. However, I think it is important not to view it as a struggle. Instead, we must examine why we feel such things. So without further ado, here are some things to think about when coping with negative self-worth.

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1. You are a super intelligent being

being intelligent is sexy

    Maybe some of you are thinking, “No that’s not me, I didn’t go to college, I didn’t even go to high school. I don’t know anything about anything.” Pish posh. Education is no measurement of intelligence. Even the most “unintelligent” (I use that word grudgingly) human being is smarter than any other creature on this planet. The point is that every person has the capacity to learn. Furthermore, it is not the things you learn, or even the things you are good at that make you intelligent. It is the ability to choose to do those things. It is human will. We all have it.

    So maybe you’ll never be an astro-physicist. My guess is there is something (or many things) that you enjoy; something that no one else can do quite the way you do. Maybe you don’t know what that is yet. So start looking, and don’t stop until you find that thing. Then, it is up to you to use that incredible gift of intelligence and make the choice to pursue your endeavors.

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    2. You are your own worst enemy

    own enemy

      Those of you who immediately doubted your own intelligence while reading number 1, this one’s for you. Who said you’re not intelligent? Who said you can’t do this or that? You did. Sure, somewhere down the road we’ve all been told by one person or another, whether by suggestion or actual words, that we are not good enough. So what? At the end of the day, you get to make that call, and only you.

      Too often, we forget that we are in charge of our existence. We let ourselves be swayed by the opinions and biases of our parents, friends, partners, and sometimes even strangers. Understand, I’m not endorsing delusional behavior. Sometimes we want to have or do something so badly, but for the wrong reasons. It is up to us to reflect upon and examine why we want the things we want, and why we do the things we do. Only then do we see that we can in fact be our own worst enemies by letting ourselves get pulled into what others want for us, rather than what we truly desire.

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      3. You’re all you’ve got

      Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 11.20.33 AM

        Of course I don’t mean that you are alone in this life. We are all in this together. Yet, when it comes down to it, only you, the individual, have the power to give meaning to your life. Yes, there can be people, things, and endeavors that bring you great joy and value, but you are the one who chooses to bring those things into your life. And ultimately, it is your reaction to, and what you learn from those forces that ascribe meaning to your existence.

        Your reality is your own. The way you experience things is a manifestation of everything that’s going on inside. It all comes back to the individual. In acknowledging our patterns of thought, emotion, and action, we get to know ourselves better. We learn to be friends with ourselves, and realize that we are the only ones who can change our reality for the better.

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        4. The pains of youth are not your fault

        Sometimes all of the above thoughts don’t quite cut it. Sometimes we need to dig a little deeper. An unfortunate fact of life is that many of us harbor feelings of extreme inadequacy based upon things that happened (or didn’t happen) when we were growing up under our guardian’s roof. Many may not even realize that their anger, sorrow, and anxiety stem from this incredibly pertinent time in their lives.

        If you are still living with childhood pain, it must be acknowledged and worked through. Maybe you’ve always blamed yourself for your parents’ divorce. Maybe you’ve lived with the notion that you don’t deserve love or attention because you never received any from your guardians. Maybe it’s much worse than either of those examples.

        In any case, you must understand that whatever it is for which you are blaming yourself, it is not your fault. How could it be? A child knows no better. Our little minds are only partially developed then. We only want one thing: the love and affection of our guardians. If we don’t get what we need and deserve, how else are we suppose to feel but unimportant and worthless?

        If you are an adult dealing with these issues, remember that it is not about casting blame. It is about acknowledging that you are responsible for your own well being now, and that you deserve to take care of yourself. Of course, we don’t just wake up one day and start doing this. It will only happen with intense therapy, self-reflection or a combination of the two. It is up to each of us to take that step.

        Final Thoughts

        The next time you are feeling the pangs of self-loathing, try to think or, better yet, feel your incredible potential as a human being. It may not work the first time or even the tenth time, but make a habit of shifting your thoughts from the negative to the positive, and you will begin to alter those patterns.

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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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