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Embrace Who You Really Are and Simplify Life Decisions

Embrace Who You Really Are and Simplify Life Decisions

“Who am I?” is the universal question most often asked. It begins in adolescence and persists through life’s developmental stages. Thankfully, the responses differ. Can you imagine if every one had the same answer?  It would be like watching The Phantom of the Opera with every actor playing the phantom. When you embrace the uniqueness of who you are, you will uncover your life purpose to begin living your dream

Read on for the oh-so-rewarding results of self-acceptance.

1. You’ll be the expert on who you are.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had an owner’s manual that shows how YOU tick? Learning about yourself is usually a process of trial and error.  You can eliminate the errors by tuning in to how you behave and react in different situations. What triggers defensiveness in you? Can you diffuse irritation and avoid going ballistic?  Which activities fuel your enthusiasm? Knowing your behaviors, reactions, strengths, and weaknesses equips you to smoothly navigate work situations and social interactions.

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2. You’ll gain a BFF for life—YOU.

A healthy self-relationship develops when you fully embrace yourself, warts and all.  In a deep relationship, a woman can sense and will gently touch her partner to calm him down during a heated discussion with someone.  A man will protectively put himself between his partner and a menacing stranger. When you are a friend to yourself, you won’t put yourself in situations which cause you anger, fear, or sadness. You acknowledge your weaknesses, but you also work at lessening or converting those weaknesses. Acceptance and effort earns self-respect. You’ll start to appreciate yourself.

3. You’ll treat yourself kindly.

You wear many hats in life. You hold a job, are a friend, a spouse, a parent, caregiver to aging parents, driver, confidant, volunteer, etc. Many people depend on you, but you cannot always deliver. Because you are your own BFF, you will be forgiving of our shortcomings. You’ll take mistakes as lessons for improvement and successes as validation of skills. Both will present opportunities for self-nurturing. Treating yourself to some quiet time alone or celebrating with a fun group will become second nature and guilt-free.  You know it is well-deserved.

4. You’ll stop living in fear of not being good enough.

Inferiority usually surfaces in comparison with peers.  Developmental psychologist Erik Erikson states that the concept of inferiority begins at school age in the classroom environment.  Peer pressure is strongest during adolescence due to the amount of time spent with large numbers of similarly-aged groups and the high importance adolescents place on their peers’ opinions. How does this information help you?  You can congratulate yourself for transitioning from that challenging time (and be extra kind to adolescents.) You can remind yourself that feelings of not being good enough are just that—feelings, not facts.  If you accept your weaknesses, you are less vulnerable to another person’s judgment.

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5. A copycat, you’ll never be.

Toddlers imitate their parents and adolescents get influenced by their friends’ choice of colleges to attend. This is part of learning self-concept.  A female job intern will follow the dress style of the lady boss and a male apprentice will mimic the authoritative voice of his mentor. This is a natural part of adapting to the work culture. When you embrace who you really are, you have a stable self-concept. You are aware of your personality traits, how you look and sound, your values, beliefs, goals and skills. And you appreciate your individuality. Copy another person’s identity? That’s unlikely because you are comfortable being you.

6. You’ll get rid of “what ifs” and “maybes.”

What if I apply for a marketing job and get rejected?  What if I tell this girl I like her and she laughs at my face?  What if I start that small business and it goes bust? Maybe I should just settle for where I am now. Over-analyzing and worrying about negative results stems from self-doubt, which is the opposite of self-confidence.  A person with good self-esteem has a decent opinion of self and likes him/herself.  You know your skills, are guided by your values and beliefs; learn from mistakes, and proudly celebrate your successes. Self-knowledge and appreciation drive away self-doubt.

7. You’ll form deep and meaningful relationships

People get their cue from the way you behave and treat yourself.  If your behavior is consistent with your beliefs and values, they will recognize a person who is similar or different from them but who is clearly an individual, with his or her set of beliefs and values.  People will not misread your actions. You know what you deserve and are comfortable asking calmly for it.  You don’t let others impose their beliefs on you and you withhold judgment on their beliefs. When you embrace who you truly are, you will attract other authentic individuals who respect, value, and support you.

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8. You’ll know and can focus on what truly moves you.

Life has a way of throwing questions to which your answers are pivotal. Self-knowledge is a powerful tool in your responses. A series of significant questions and authentic answers will reveal your dream and life purpose. When you embrace who you really are, your answers will ring true and clear, and lead you each step of the way. You’ll instinctively know the job you’ll thrive in, the causes you’ll best contribute to, the people you’ll connect deeply with, and what makes you feel truly alive.  Your decision-making will be simple, guided by two questions:  “Does this support who I really am?” and “Does this help me live my life purpose?”

9. “Things fall into place” for you.

“You create your reality with your intentions.”

—Gary Zukav

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I’ve seen it happen. When you decide and affirm your intention, the opportunities show up inexplicably in the strangest of ways from the most unexpected sources to support that intention.

It works best when:

  • your dream/purpose reflects the divine in you, helps others, and protects nature;
  • you are clear about your dream and purpose;
  • you make each life decision in support of your dream and purpose;
  • you believe!

But first of all, you have to embrace who you really are.

Featured photo credit: Chicken LIttle, flickr.Wasin Waeosri 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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