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5 Ways to Instantly Rid Yourself of Needless Worry

5 Ways to Instantly Rid Yourself of Needless Worry

A while back, I had a great day and everything was going exactly as I wanted. I was meeting tons of new people and everything was amazing, I felt like I’ve accomplished a lot. Then suddenly, like an unexpected swift jab, someone made a small remark about me. I felt hurt and the worry began flowing in.

Looking back, I don’t even remember what was said. Maybe it had something to do with what I said, or how I said it. The point is it bothered me for hours on end and I was fixating on this comment wondering why they had felt this way.

Why didn’t this person like me? I let this thought linger over my head, despite all the great things that happened that day. Sometimes, there are just tiny things that stick with me, even though I usually am incredible at being resilient and great at enjoying the little things.

Today I felt worried again. A few people didn’t laugh at my jokes. Suddenly, I felt the need to impress them, show them how awesome I am. Another thing from today, someone gestured in my direction then chuckled to his friends. I think he was talking badly about me, oh no. I should say something out loud, flouting my social proof.

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Then I remembered several things. I remembered my mental toolbox of tricks I use to snap myself out of this pointless worry. I applied all the big guns in my head to rid myself of my imaginary tormenter. I was free again.

Over the years, I’ve developed so many mental reminders and belief systems that help me get rid of these worries that seem to come from nowhere, the ones that don’t matter but still seem to hold on to you and drag you down. I want to share these with you.

Stop Trying to Win Others’ Approval

It just isn’t possible to get everyone to like you. Trust me, I’ve tried. This only leads to disappointment on a daily basis, since you can’t possibly live up to the entire world’s expectations.

Here’s a new goal for you instead if you really want to eradicate worry and unhappiness from your life. Focus on what you think of yourself. Who cares what that stranger thinks? If you’re happy with who you are and you know what flaws you should fix then forget about the world. Life is bigger than trying to look awesome; life is about actually being awesome.

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Think, Will It Really Bother You Later?

The first thing I ask myself is, will this negative thought impact me in the future at all? Is it going to decrease my quality of life somehow? More often than not, it’s just something I’ll soon forget about anyways.

So I put myself into the future by a couple days and envision myself. In this vision, I realize that I won’t be bothered by something so miniscule and I most likely wouldn’t even remember it. A lot of times, just the idea of it fleeting away very soon is enough for me to block out these intrusions.

Will I even remember whom it was I was trying to impress? Most likely I won’t remember. Did I remember who made a small negative comment and what it was even about? Nope. Mental toolbox says to take you out of my head and prioritize you at the lowest possible, so I do.

Reflect on How Amazing You Are

When I feel like I’m inadequate based on the need for approval from others, I begin to reflect on my achievements. I think about how much I’ve improved in the past year. I’ve met amazing people, developed active listening skills, and started something I’ve been contemplating for the past two years.

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Looking further back, I transformed from a socially awkward kid to a socially awesome extrovert. All thanks to mental hacks that I consciously yield. I was blessed with true fortunes that others do not have; I was blessed with the gift of self-improvement.

Write

Write anywhere you can, whether it’s in a blog, in your journal, or on a post-it note that you can toss dramatically into the ocean (factor in air resistance). Get those worries out onto paper. Look at it, assess its importance, then shred it, burn it, or toss it into the ocean like I just said.

You can then look back at that paper you just destroyed and laugh at how ridiculous you were being. Who cares if that lady looked at you weird? Who cares that someone may have noticed mustard stains on your pristine white sneakers? Write all of that, then destroy it.

Reflect on Life’s Briefness

Finally, just reflect on how short life is; focus on how life is constantly fleeting. Do you really want to spend what little time you have on this beautiful earth worrying about something you won’t even remember by next week? Don’t be silly, get out there and enjoy life. You’ve got it pretty good, I’d bet. Don’t waste it on needless worry.

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Vincent Nguyen

Founder of Growth Ninja

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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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