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How To Live Your Dream And Overcome Fear

How To Live Your Dream And Overcome Fear

It always seems impossible until it’s done. – Nelson Mandela

Whenever you’ve considered how to live your dream, it’s likely that you had a lot of fearful thoughts. Whether your dream is to write a book or you want to climb Mt. Everest, take steps to overcome your fears and begin living your dream today.

1. Tell Other People About Your Dream

The more people you tell about your dream, the more likely you are to make that dream a reality. Tell your friends, family, and coworkers what you hope to accomplish. The people who support your dream can help you along the way, and those who question your abilities can fuel your determination.

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2. Take Steps to Prepare

Don’t quit your job today or head for the hills without a plan. Spend time preparing what you’ll need and how you’ll get there. Without a clear and proper plan, you’ll struggle to get there. Write down your plan and remain flexible, as the best plans often need to be revised.

3. Establish a Timeline

The difference between a dream and a goal is at timeline. Establish a realistic timeline to reach your dream, and you can start working toward it today. Most dreams require many steps along the way, so determine when you want to reach each step until you are finally living your dream.

Once you’ve established a timeline, you don’t have to say that you want to live your dream “someday.” Instead, you can say, “Two years from now, this is what I plan to be doing.”

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4. Set Short-Term Goals

Identify short-term goals you’ll need to reach to make your dream a reality. Create action steps to help you begin reaching your short-term goals. Every time you accomplish one goal, set another goal.

5. Take One Step Toward Your Dream Daily

Work on your dream every day. Whether you spend time researching your dream or planning your next time, spend a little bit of time each day working on it. Setting aside time to work on living your dream each day will help make it a reality.

6. Measure Your Progress

Review your plan and measure your progress periodically. It’s likely that you’ll need to make some adjustments along the way. Keeping track of your progress can help you see how far you’ve come, and it can keep you motivated to keep working hard.

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7. Prepare for Obstacles

Expect to encounter obstacles along the way. Plan for the obstacles that you can predict, and be ready to do some problem-solving when unforeseen obstacles arise. Don’t give up when you encounter problems; resolve to overcome them instead. Living your dream will require effort, but it will make it all that much more worthwhile when you get there.

8. Visualize Success

Spend time visualizing yourself living your dream. Think about what your life will be like, how you’ll be spending your time, and how you’ll feel. Visualizing it often can help you see that you can make your dream a reality.

9. Keep the Benefits in Mind

When the going gets rough and you’re tempted to quit, it’s important to keep the benefits of living your dream in mind. Keep a list of all the reasons why you want to live your dream and refer to that list often. Reminding yourself of the benefits can decrease your fears and remind you how to live your dream.

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10. Quiet Your Inner Critic

There will be plenty of days where you will have doubtful thoughts. Your inner critic will try to convince you that you won’t make it, it’s not worth it, or that you’ll fail miserably. Stop the excuses about why you can’t live your dreams and remind yourself of the reasons why you can do whatever you want.

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Amy Morin

A psychotherapist, psychology instructor, keynote speaker, and the author of the bestselling book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do

How to Think Positive Thoughts When Feeling Negative 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do 10 Things To Remember When Everything Goes Wrong 12 Ways To Improve Social Skills And Make You Sociable Anytime 6 Mistakes That Keep You Struggling in Life And Stuck

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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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