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How to Stop Feeling Bad, Change Your Thoughts, and Change Your LIfe

How to Stop Feeling Bad, Change Your Thoughts, and Change Your LIfe

You look like you’ve got it all together. You’re always smiling in your selfies. Your Instagram and Facebook photos look like you’re having the time of your life, but inside your head there’s another movie going on.

You know you’re a decent person (your mother tells you all the time) but you keep hearing voices that bring you down. Voices of doubt making you wonder if you’re good enough, cool enough, hot enough, or you’re up for the challenge in front of you. Guess what? You are!

You just have to learn how to dig through the garbage bin of your mind and see how great you really are, so you can start living a happier life.

CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR THOUGHTS

If you want to change your life, the first thing to change is the relationship you have with your thoughts. Regardless of how successful, confident, and self-assured someone looks; you can be sure that inside every person is a little voice full of doubt. What matters most is how you relate to those thoughts. Just because you hear thoughts of doubt, insecurity, or regret – doesn’t mean you have to listen to them.

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Give your negative voice a voice.

Listen to your thoughts. Be aware of what you say to yourself. Do you sound like your best friend (You’re doing a great job, hang in there, things will get better soon, believe in miracles, pray) or do you sound like the high school bully (You’re such a jerk, loser, stop being a baby, grow up already)?

Say your thoughts out loud. Whether it’s to yourself or a trusted friend, releasing those thoughts will free you from the prison of your mind. That’s when positive change will happen.

Face your flaws.

As odd as that seems, denial is a nasty self-esteem destroyer. Admitting your truths frees you. It’s the first step to happiness.

There is no such thing as perfect. Everybody is imperfect. It’s what makes us human. It’s a common bond we share. What matters is how you manage your imperfections. Do they haunt you and stick with you for days? Or do you try to forget about them and make them go away? Successful people admit their flaws, improve them, and move beyond them.

Flaws that are not admitted can hold you down and interfere with your happiness. If you want to be truly happy, you have to be brave enough to know what you need to improve. Maybe you need to stop procrastinating, less selfish, or control your temper; once you admit it, you can change it. If you remain in denial, your harmful habits will continue to harm you.

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Forgive yourself.

It’s going to happen; you’ll mess up, make a mistake, or say the wrong thing, it’s ok. You’re imperfect and human, just like the rest of us. It’s not the mistake that hurts, but whether you take it in and let it rot inside your head or learn from it and let it go. Mess-ups are part of everybody’s day. Look at Bill Clinton, Steve Jobs, and John Travolta. How do you think he felt when he mispronounced Idina Menzel‘s name in front of 43 million people? Ouch! People forget and get over it. You can too.

“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” 
Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs had to forgive himself when he made the first Apple III computer. It was so poorly designed that the computer was known as an unreliable machine that continuously crashed due to poor ventilation.

Think about who you want to be.

Whether your dream is to act on Broadway or become the next Stephen King, visualize the person you want to become. Jim Carrey did it, and it worked for him. In 1983 when Jim was broke and down and out, he wrote himself a post-dated check for $10 million. He carried it in his pocket for ten years. What do you see in your future? Make that your daily visualization. Write it down and keep it with you every day.

List your strengths.

Affirmations are corny, but they work. Remind yourself how you tackled that tough project, or made peace with a friend after they hurt you. Take a few minutes to realize how your accomplishments.

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When things happen that knock you down, get back up. Remember those life-size inflatable punching bags when you were a kid? That’s you. Keep bouncing back up.

Spirituality helps.

When times are tough (and even in the good times) a spiritual foundation can get you through. Knowing that there is something in the Universe that is steering your life path, guiding your journey, testing you, and helping you to become a better person can be a great source of inspiration, hope, and strength.

Start something new.

You might want to start a blog, journal, or books- whatever you choose- search for something that speaks to your soul. Explore new options, take a course, or make your childhood dreams come true.

Be ready to change.

Complaining about how bad things are doesn’t make things better. Talking about change and making a change are not the same. It’s so easy to say “I don’t like my life the way it is, everything’s a mess.” But if you want your life to be better, you have to be willing to make a change, and then take action to make it happen.

Achieving happiness is a paradox of life. First you have to see your flaws before you can see your goodness.

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It’s a choice you have to make. It’s not just saying you want it, and then you receive it. There are no special effect, no magic wands. It’s up to you.

The only way out is through. Go for it- you’re worth it.

Loving yourself is about feeling comfortable in your own skin, even if it’s itchy, bumpy, or burned. That’s true happiness.

You can be that person you want to be. Go ahead, write that $10 million check right now.

 

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June Silny

ADHD Coach, Writer, ADDitude Magazine featured contributor

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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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