Advertising
Advertising

8 Ways to Improve Yourself with Writing

8 Ways to Improve Yourself with Writing

We often think of writing as a means to communicate with others. Let’s take a look at writing as a means of focusing our attention on the one person who matters most to us—ourselves.

Know Thyself

Self improvement is a laudable goal, but it must begin with an honest self-assessment. If you have never done such a thing, try beginning now, with a list of everything you can do, use, operate, etc. Start with being able to write, either with pen to paper or type on a keyboard, and include everything, no matter how trivial (use a phone, drive a car, grow plants, etc). You will amaze yourself with the number of skills and abilities you have amassed through the years.

Advertising

Take Control

Next, you must learn that there is only one thing in life over which you have complete control: your thinking/attitude. What you think and how you feel about it are inseparable. That means how you perceive yourself is inextricably linked to how you feel about yourself. No matter what others may say about you (or think in their hearts), only you know your true thoughts and feelings. Never let the negative influence of other people rule your own thoughts and feelings.

Make a Road-map

With this in mind, you might consider writing down your goals and plans for the future. Having a clear mental picture of where you want to end up not only provides you with a target to aim for, it also protects you from becoming a SNIOP (Susceptible to the Negative Influence of Other People).

Advertising

Unless you are already familiar with the process of crafting your future in words, you might find it helpful to use a set of goal setting and planning tools that have proven useful to others, like those available here, for free. The worksheets and manuals will help you through each stage of your plan, including what you don’t want in your life. Weeding out time wasters, stress and other problems can help you reach your goals faster, and with less effort.

Write Your Way, the Right Way

An unusual and surprisingly effective method of self improvement is called Grapho-Therapy. The creator of this method claims that changing your handwriting can change your life for the better. Since the way you write given letters can reveal character traits and behavioral habits, by changing the way you write “negative” letter shapes, you can change the underlying behavior. It’s not free, but I include it as a tool for you to examine.

Advertising

Accounting for Change for the Better

Next, make a budget. That means not only writing down each and every source of income and expenditure you have, it means tracking exactly how much money you have on you at any given time. Many people have been amazed at how they fritter away money by just assuming they have enough on them for this or that little thing they want to buy. Those “little things” can add up to a major sum that could be put to better use. Get into the practice of accounting for the pennies, and the dollars will begin to take care of themselves.

Let Go of the Past

There may be things in your past that still bother you today. Whether it’s a bad encounter with another person or something you did that was less than you could have done, it still haunts you. Try writing a letter of forgiveness, in which you describe, in detail, how you perceive what happened. Then, most importantly, forgive whatever hurt or injury was done to you by others and forgive yourself for not being perfect. You don’t have to send the letter—keep it for yourself and your peace of mind.

Advertising

Forge Lasting Connections

Finally, no self improvement efforts will be complete unless you include others in your life. That means starting or continuing a dialogue with those you are close to and those you wish to cultivate as colleagues, mentors, etc. Even if it’s only an occasional email, keep in touch with those you value, and tell them you value them. They, in turn, may surprise you with just the right word, at just the right time, that improves your life in ways you cannot now imagine.

The Ultimate Self-Improvement Tool

Writing can be the best way for you to do the one thing many of us never do: change. Self improvement is as much art as it is science. By documenting all the changes you wish to make, you give yourself a fighting chance to make good on your good intentions.

More by this author

7 Surefire Ways to Become a Successful Writer Writing: Change Yourself, Change the World 8 Ways to Improve Yourself with Writing

Trending in Communication

1 5 Real Relationship Goals You Should Actually Strive Toward 2 When You Learn A Second Language, These 7 Amazing Things Will Happen To You 3 15 Things To Stop Doing If You Want To Be Truly Happy 4 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 5 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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

Read Next