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Last Updated on December 11, 2020

6 Steps to Stop Worrying About What Other People Think Of You

6 Steps to Stop Worrying About What Other People Think Of You

I remember when I was very concerned about what other people thought of me, and how devastating it was if I discovered that I was misunderstood and labeled incorrectly. It was debilitating, consuming and completely unnecessary.

If you find yourself worrying about what other people think of you, here is a plan to let go of that mental torture and adopt a more empowering (and freeing) perspective.

1.  Notice When The Worry Sets In

Chances are you don’t worry about what everyone thinks of you all of the time.

  • What’s going on in the times you begin to obsess over someone else’s opinion of you?
  • Who are the people who trigger the worry?
  • What power do they have over you? Is it real?

By being aware of when you worry, and over whom, you can start to see the impact it has on your peace of mind and ability to focus.

2.  Identify and Understand Why You Care

What makes what other people think of you so important?

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Chances are, if other people’s opinion of you causes you to worry, you have a tendency to people-please. Being liked and favored has likely been a winning formula for you in the past.

There are advantages to having someone’s high regard but if it doesn’t come naturally, by just being you, you are also paying a high price for their esteem. There will be a tendency to shuffle issues under the carpet and tolerate things that don’t work for you.

Understanding why you care will allow you to investigate if this is a formula you want to continue to employ and to what degree. You’ll have an ability to make a choice rather than fall into the same old patterns that may no longer serve you or your higher good.

3.  Understand you can’t control what other people think of you

Worry is a response to feeling out of control. The reality is you cannot control what another person thinks of you. There are too many variables at play.

What most people don’t understand is that we often form opinions of others based on associations we’ve had in the past.

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I’m a coach. When I first meet people, if they have met other coaches, they are going to view and assess me through the filter of their prior experiences of coaches. I’m aware of this, and I accept it knowing that the more time they spend with me the more opportunities there will be for them to alter their opinion.

If they don’t spend more time with me, well, what do I care about their opinion anyway?

And bottom line, it’s none of our business what other people think of us. That’s their private life.

What I’m concerned about is how they treat me. If I’m treated professionally and appropriately, then any negative opinion is, again, none of my business. If I’m not treated well then it is my responsibility to address it. Until then…

4.  Direct Your Energy to Positive Things

People can sense when it’s important to you to be liked. This makes you appear to be trying too hard, insincere, and needy. In essence, you are working against your goal to have good relationships.

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Take the pressure off and focus on things that you are interested in that bring you joy or that come naturally to you. This will not only distract you from your worry, which is a waste of your time and energy, it will also start to attract the people who are interested in what you are interested in.

When you are surrounded by people who share your interests and values you can let your guard down and enjoy the time you spend with them. Being your natural self becomes easy and effortless and you are less concerned about what other people think of you.

5.  Practice Daily Self-Love and Acceptance

Worrying about what other people think of us and people-pleasing stems from a notion that we are not as worthy as another person, our needs and wants are not as important as theirs. This perspective is the root of the problem but it’s just a perspective and can be changed.

Start your day recognizing you are equal to every other person on this planet. There is no one above or below you. We all have different roles but that does not make anyone more valuable as a human being.

Come up with statements that affirm this truth. I have a friend who repeats to herself, “I have every right to be in this room. I have experience and a perspective that no one else has.” This statement allowed her to get over her nervousness when meeting with CEO’s and high-powered attorneys.

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What is your truth?

6.  Live a Life that Pleases YOU

Face it, if you worry about what other people think of you, your life becomes about their opinion and you will start to live in a way that is incongruent with the real you. This creates tremendous stress and will impact your relationships, your health, and your peace of mind.

If you must worry, worry about your opinion of yourself. How can you hold yourself in higher esteem?

What is the life you want to be living that will bring you the most joy?

In Conclusion…

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be liked, or held in high regard. Building relationships and forming partnerships are essential to your success.

If you stay true to your values and do your own thing, you will not need to be concerned with the few people who just don’t seem to get you. You can live your fulfilling life and they can live theirs.

Featured photo credit: Les Anderson via unsplash.com

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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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