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5 Ways You Are Sabotaging Your Success That You Didn’t Know

5 Ways You Are Sabotaging Your Success That You Didn’t Know

Do you ever feel frustrated because you have an awful lot of ambition, but no tangible results to show for it? If so, then you are probably sabotaging your success without even realizing it. Read on to discover how self-sabotage happens and why your gut instincts cannot be trusted.

1. You put short-term desires before long-term success.

“Woo-hoo, I exercised today! I deserve a cookie.”

“I actually managed to save a few hundred dollars! Time to buy a new wardrobe.”

These quotes demonstrate a common form of self-sabotage, which is “treating yourself” with rewards that are in direct conflict with the long-term value you are trying to put into practice. A person who values their health wouldn’t use exercise as an excuse to eat junk. A person who wants to become wealthy wouldn’t splurge on unnecessary wants as soon as they manage to save a bit of money. Rewards are a good way to stay encouraged, but those rewards should not undermine your goal. Setting such a precedent could make a massive dent in your long-term progress if you get carried away with it. Since it will take a larger dose of a reward to satisfy your cravings as time goes on, you might eventually find yourself taking two steps backward for every step forward. Don’t risk it.

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2. You overestimate your capabilities and ability to commit.

“I know I haven’t exercised in a long time, but I’m totally going to train for an hour every day next year!”

“It’s been years since I have cooked at home, but it’s time to change. I am going to prepare home-cooked meals every day!”

These quotes demonstrate overconfidence in one’s abilities, which leads to extremely unrealistic expectations. If you eat fast food every day and haven’t been to the gym in over a year, then it is absurd to think you’re going to be able to follow a strict diet and training routine. You would have to willfully ignore a past history chock full of failures to believe that would be possible. Please understand that I’m not trying to make you feel bad about yourself. I just want to save you from disappointment. If you bite off more than you can chew, then you will merely set yourself up for failure. This experience could be so demotivating that you end up deciding you might as well give up. You probably won’t drop a waist-size in a month and you’re sure as hell not going to change all of your poor health habits overnight. Small changes stick better. Be patient.

3. You kid yourself into believing you’ll do better “tomorrow.”

“I’m already halfway through the week and I haven’t exercised yet. Oh, well. I’ll hit it hard next Monday!”

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“I know I shouldn’t eat all of this pasta, but that’s okay, I’ll just be sure to make REALLY good decisions tomorrow.”

These quotes demonstrate an insidious form of self-delusion that enables people to procrastinate indefinitely. Let’s be honest. Out of all the times you have said you would work out on Monday, how many times did you actually follow-through? If you can claim a success rate above 50%, I will wire you a thousand dollars. Okay, I’m not serious about the money part (NOT because I’m wrong –because you couldn’t possibly prove it), but you get the point. I played the, “I’ll work out on Monday,” game for an entire semester of college and it wasn’t pretty. My success rate was closer to 10%. To truly believe that you will do better “tomorrow,” you would have to delude yourself into thinking your future self will (somehow) be more disciplined than your present self. I hate to break it to you, but your present and future self are actually the same person. The more you kick that commitment to the next day (or week), the more likely you will keep doing it.

4. You do things that appear to be productive (but really aren’t).

“I reorganized my underwear drawer and made a To-Do list. Time to take a break!”

“Too bad I didn’t work out today, but hey, at least I read a bunch of fitness articles online!”

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These quotes demonstrate how easy it is to kid yourself into believing you did something “productive,” even though it resulted in no forward progress whatsoever. Procrastination is so clever that it can disguise itself in tasks that appear to be productive (but really aren’t). If you work from home and have projects with impending deadlines, then reorganizing your underwear drawer is the last thing you need to be doing. If you spend a lot of time reading fitness articles despite the fact that you rarely apply the advice they contain, then you are wasting your time. If an activity doesn’t result in forward progress, then you need to be brutally honest with yourself. You’re probably just mentally pleasing yourself in a misguided effort to feel better about your inaction and consequential lack of results. Harsh, but true.

5. You lie to yourself so much that your gut instinct can’t be trusted.

“I am better/different/smarter. This would never happen to me.”

“Man, I can’t believe some people are dumb enough to delude themselves like this! Poor chumps.”

These quotes demonstrate the fallacy of believing you are “superior” when you are far more likely to be average just like everybody else. Indeed, people who are overconfident are the most prone to make the mistakes discussed in this article, because their exaggerated (and often unfounded) belief in their abilities makes them arrogant. Arrogant people feel like they are better than everybody else, so they won’t be mindful of these forms of self-sabotage, and thus will be even more susceptible to them. Talk about irony!

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Remember these five steps if you want to stop sabotaging your success.

Have you noticed any of these forms of self-sabotage in your life? If so, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts in the comments. If you know a friend who could use a reality check, please share this article in a thoughtful email or social media share.

Featured photo credit: sascha lindner via flickr.com

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Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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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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