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7 Beliefs That Will Help When You Get Stuck

7 Beliefs That Will Help When You Get Stuck

Being stuck sucks.

There’s that part of you that wants to get moving, wants to make something amazing happen and doesn’t want to waste any more time, but there’s that other part of you that doesn’t know where to start, doesn’t feel enthused about the options and sometimes feels powerless to change anything.

So, yeah, it sucks.

The good news is, your best weapon in the fight against being stuck is in that wonderful brain of yours—your thinking and your beliefs.

So, here are seven beliefs that will help you get unstuck.

1. I don’t need to have all the information

It’s good to get your facts right before attempting to make a decision, but that can often become an exercise in gathering together and pouring over all of the information and details you can find, to the point where you contract a solid case of analysis-paralysis-itis. (Yeah, that’s a thing).

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You don’t need all of the information, and as there will always be unknowns in life, it’s unlikely that it’s even possible to get all of it. Surrounding yourself with information and details is really just swaddling yourself in a comfort blanket.

It’s much better to know enough to make a choice and to let go of the rest.

2. I can trust my intuition

That quiet little voice way down inside you is pretty darn smart. It knows what matters to you. It knows who you are. It knows what you can do if you get behind a decision. The trouble is, with all the pressure to succeed and get things right, it’s easy to not hear it among the sound and fury of everything else.

But it never goes away. Your intuition is there, right now. It’ll give you huge clues about what’s next, and it will always try to tell you what you need to know.

All it takes is the belief that you can trust your intuition; then you just need to practice hearing it.

3. I’m more than my circumstances

When you’re stuck, all you can see are the walls around you. Whichever way you turn, you just can’t seem to find a way out or through, so you keep on butting up against those walls, getting more and more frustrated, tired and disillusioned.

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After a while, it’s easy to start defining yourself by the circumstances you find yourself in. You may think you’re small, stuck and not good enough.

The truth is that you’re vastly capable, and have barely touched the ceiling of that capability. You have strengths, talents and experiences that amount to something. You have options, choices and the ability to make things happen. You have potential and possibility in your fingertips. You’re way more than any circumstances.

4. My next move doesn’t have to be “right”

The world rams success down your throat and tells you that you’re less than if you’re not successful. The pressure that creates to be successful and have your next choice be the “right” one is immense, and you can endlessly pressure, doubt and second-guess yourself in pursuit of what’s right.

But there is no right way. If I can paraphrase Frank Sinatra, there’s only your way. Pressuring yourself to get it right will get you nowhere fast, so what if there was no right or wrong answer?

How about simply believing that whatever happens, you can always make a great choice?

5. I can gently explore what’s next for me

Decisions are strange things. We sometimes in invest so much in them that we think everything hinges on our next choice; that it’s make or break, flourish or flounder, live or die.

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The stories you tell yourself about what’s next for you and the drama inherent in those stories cast you as the protagonist struggling against the odds, and they can feel compelling enough to keep you stuck for a very long time.

But things don’t have to be full of drama and weight. Look at a choice with a sense of playfulness rather than fear. Approach an opportunity with curiosity rather than dread. Take that next step with light feet rather than dragging your heels.

De-dramify where you’re at and go play instead.

6. I don’t need to judge the process

Do you blame yourself for being stuck? Do you beat yourself up for not being able to move forward? Or perhaps you blame other people or circumstances for not giving you what you need?

However much you might resist it, life will always be full of twists and turns; those ups and downs are part of the deal. Judging the swings and roundabouts of life is like blaming a year for having a winter, so watch yourself when you’re judging or blaming things for being how they are.

Embrace the process, don’t beat on it.

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7. Asking for help doesn’t make me “less than”

Ever felt like you need to solve your problems by yourself? What about feeling like you shouldn’t bother someone else with your “stuff”? Or, maybe you feel too ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help?

When you’re stuck, it feels as though it’s just you, doesn’t it? You see other people going about their lives, getting things done and having fun doing it, so you might think that nobody else gets stuck like you. But they do. You just don’t see what’s happening in their heads or hearts.

Asking for help and support doesn’t make you weak any more than having a bowl of pasta makes you Italian. It’s sometimes the bravest and wisest thing you can do, and we’re all stronger and better when we’re connected. You don’t have to do this alone.

The bottom line?

You’re only as stuck as you let yourself believe you are. There are always options and there are always choices. What counts then, are the beliefs you hold about what you do—or don’t do—next.

What’s your next move?

More by this author

Steve Errey

Steve is a confidence coach who helps leaders build confidence.

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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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