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9 Lessons I’ve Learned Overcoming Depression That Can Help Anybody Succeed In Anything

9 Lessons I’ve Learned Overcoming Depression That Can Help Anybody Succeed In Anything

There were days where getting over depression seemed impossible. There were days when I felt good, like really good. So good I thought it was all behind me. The next day I would wonder what all went wrong and if I’d ever be able to break free from my brain.

Personally, I have broken free; for the most part. It was an interesting journey filled with dark rooms and far too many lonely nights watching Rocky.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

1. It Does Get Better

It won’t feel like it will, but it will. Trust me. Yes, I know, easier said than done. Right, I get it. Everything is easier said than done. So do it. Work on it. You can get better.

2. The Crazy Mistakes You Make Now Are OKAY

Life is one ginormous experiment. Unfortunately, in the Western World, the political experiment is not going so well. If you ever find yourself taking politics too seriously, remember that this was all made up. Human beings made it up. Kind of like how we make up the way we live.

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We are born into certain cultures, but that doesn’t mean we have to stay there. You can explore and experiment all you want. Depression can lock you into a world where nothing seems to be working and you feel stuck. That’s okay. Try and get out of it anyways. Sure, you’ll make mistakes along the way. I did. But the more you keep working on yourself and your issues, the more momentum you’ll build.

3. Barely Anybody Will Understand What You’re Going Through and That’s OKAY

Your journey through depression is probably a lot different than mine was. But I understand the emotions you’re feeling. I’ve received tons of emails from people who have related to my articles because they described how they feel.

If I had never suffered from depression, I never would have been able to truly understand what depression felt like. So, if somebody doesn’t understand what you’re going through don’t hold it against them. I know the stigma police out there get furious at anybody who doesn’t understand but, listen, it’s fine they don’t understand. It’s why I have a blog and my inbox is full. It’s a place where people can come and know they are not alone in their battles.

Treat your journey like you’re a lone wolf, but take help when it’s available to you.

4. Being Expectation-Free Isn’t Necessarily A Bad Thing

I used to approach certain books by saying, “This is the book that’s going to change my life.” Then I would be disappointed because they never did. Maybe they helped a bit, but they never left a lasting impact. Why? Because my expectations were drastically too high.

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The same thing happened when I tried different strategies to help my depression and anxiety. I would feel good about them, they would work a little, and I would believe all my troubles were behind me. Of course, they weren’t. Then I would just shut down and give up hope on that strategy.

When I started going into situations or trying strategies with zero expectations, things started changing. I made progress because I wouldn’t get so frustrated if something didn’t work and I’d just keep working at it. My emotions would stay on an even keel and not fluctuate from severe lows to severe highs. I was able to put into practice small, consistent steps of progress and if I got knocked back, it wasn’t impossible to move back forward.

5. No Matter How You Feel About Life At The Moment, It Does Matter

I’m an introspective thinker. I like to analyze. I’ve been through phases where I question everything about life, thinking none of it is actually important. I mean, we are all going to die, so what does it matter how we live? But it all does matter. Life is important. It’s the ultimate gift that’s been handed to us, so we should enjoy it.

If life didn’t matter, then the taste of homemade chocolate chip cookies wouldn’t leave any impression on us. The hug from another human being wouldn’t raise our oxytocin levels naturally. We wouldn’t smile every time we watch a nephew laughing his butt off at the weirdest things. We wouldn’t have emotions if life didn’t matter. Life matters, maybe in ways none of us can understand, but it’s here, and it’s our right to live as fully as we can and enjoy the whole experience.

6. You Will Always Be Struggling With Something; Accept That

Every single one of us wakes up everyday with our own list of problems and insecurities. So why do we attack each other so much? Because of those problems and insecurities.

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If someone doesn’t believe what you believe or doesn’t fully understand you, then leave it at that. Going after people is selfish and shows how small-minded you are.

7. When It Feels Like A Bad Situation, It Probably Is

There were plenty of nights, when I was out drinking with ‘friends’ and trying to forget about my problems. I knew it was a bad situation. I knew I had a test at 7am, and the fact that it was 1am and I still had a beer in my hand was not good.

I knew I was in bad relationships, but never changed them; kind of, just, hoped for the best. If it doesn’t feel likes it’s helping, or something or somebody is holding you back, it’s probably true. Trust your gut.

8. Don’t Try And Fit In

Fitting in may get you accepted, but it won’t get you respected by yourself. You won’t respect yourself for not being who you are. I understand you may not fully know who you are, and that’s okay. But don’t do anything or try and fit in with a group because you think it will make you happy. While it may initially, it won’t last.

I used to love watching football. Now I can barely make it through an entire game if I do watch — I usually catch maybe two games total a year. When a football conversation breaks out, I don’t try and act like I’m as enthusiastic about it as my guests. Who cares? If anybody actually cares enough to dislike you, then why are you still talking to each other? (I used to act like I enjoyed anything the person I was talking with liked, because I didn’t want them to hate me). This point, of course, goes with any subject.

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Be yourself. It will free you into a world of love and laughter that’s not masked by false feelings.

9. Don’t Put Your Faith In Anything Other Than Yourself

This is the big one. I’ve learned this while going through every job I’ve ever hated and even (somewhat) loved.

If you want to make progress and get better, the only faith that matters is the one in yourself.

Do not put your faith in other people, or a company, or a boss, or a Higher power. You can have faith towards them, but don’t put that faith in them. Hopefully they don’t let you down, but if they do, it can be devastating if you believed they were the answer to your problems.

You are the only person who matters on this journey out of depression. Believe in yourself. That’s the only type of faith that matters.

More by this author

Daniel CJ Grant

Daniel is the author of "Notes from a Failure". He writes about failure and success.

3 Unique Ways To Enjoy The Present Moment 6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances Notes From A Failure: 5 Unusual Ways To Handle Failure 9 Lessons I’ve Learned Overcoming Depression That Can Help Anybody Succeed In Anything 10 Vintage Things You Can Do Right Now to Be Awesome

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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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