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Break Out of Your Comfort Zone in 6 Easy Steps

Break Out of Your Comfort Zone in 6 Easy Steps

Everyone has a zone where they feel the most comfortable. For some people this comfort zone is smaller than others.  Here is some advice on how to break out of you comfort zone, face your fears, and start living a fuller life, such as reading some feel good quotes at quotes.viralcreek.com, or learning to take small steps at a time when facing a fear.

Start Small

There is no need to dive in head first, start by just sticking your foot in. By taking things one (small) step at a time, it will help you grow and learn from what you are experiencing better. If you try and face your fear of heights by jumping out of a plane from the get go, it could make your fear heights even more. The same goes for breaking out of your comfort zone.  If your fear is of heights, start out by climbing a ladder. Then when you are comfortable with that you can move up from there. By the time you are ready to jump out of the plane, it will be more enjoyable for you.

By taking small steps you start to de-sensitize yourself from you fear, or what makes you uncomfortable. Small steps are situations you will find yourself in more often as well. How often will you jump out of a plane opposed to climbing a ladder? The more you de-sensitize yourself from these small steps, the better you can start living your life.

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Set Goals

The best way to track your progress is to set goals for yourself. These can be as often as daily or monthly. Having goals is a good way to track your progress. The biggest comfort zone issue people have is social anxiety. If you are one of these people set a goal to talk to a certain amount of people you don’t know a day, week or month. Remember to start small and go from there.

Over time you may lose track of your goals and everything will come naturally to you. It’s just like training for a marathon. You start with what is comfortable to you and slowly start pushing yourself more and more to reach your goals. Before you know it, you’re able to run a 10k without even thinking about it.

Know that it’s OK to Fail

Most people don’t get it right the first time. Remind yourself, if you can’t do it the first time, there will be more opportunities to try. The most important thing to remember is;it’s ok to not succeed the first time. You just have to stick with it and never stop trying. Quitting is your enemy when it comes to opening your comfort zone. If you stop trying, you will never beat your enemy.

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It is important to remember if you fail the first time, try it differently the second time. Taking new approaches to breaking out of your comfort zone will allow you to recognize how to go about it. Once you have accomplished one feat, you can re-visit ones you have failed in the past. Do these until you reach a point where you have completely come out of your comfort zone.

Have Faith

Your biggest support is yourself. Have faith in yourself and you can do anything. There is not much more to it than that. Breaking out of your comfort zone can often be a scary experience. Understanding that you can do it,and having faith that everything will be ok when you do, should be your biggest driver to face your fears.

Find What Motivates You

If you find yourself full of doubt, find something that motivates you. For some people this could be proving naysayers wrong. For others, anger fuels their motivation. Many people turn to motivational quotes to keep them going. Whatever it is that motivates you, stick with it and turn to it whenever you find you doubt yourself.

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Sometimes taking risks is what you need to motivate yourself. Taking risks is a great way to break from what you are comfortable with, that is what taking risks are after all.

Have a Support Group

If you still feel like you need something more, rely on people who will support you as well. There are plenty of people you can find to cheer you on. Whatever comfort zone it may be that you are trying to step out from, there are people who are trying to do the same. They can be there to support you and you can be there to support them. Your support for them can help you grow as well.

Support groups can be friends or family, but can also be found throughout the world on the internet. There are tons of support groups for every comfort zone imaginable. Listen to other people stories and you can learn from them as well.

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If breaking out of your comfort zone is something you would like to accomplish for yourself remember these 6 tips. Don’t give up on yourself, you may actually be surprised with what you are capable of.

Featured photo credit: gagilas via flickr.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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