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Nobody Wants Perfect, Flaws are Beautiful

Nobody Wants Perfect, Flaws are Beautiful

We live in a world of flaws. Ironically, we place a high value on beauty and perfection. Every day, we are bombarded with advertisements featuring perfectly symmetrical and beautiful faces and bodies trying to sell to us. These ads woo us with the promise that if we get what “they” have, we can be as attractive as they are, too. Not only that, we also respond to the subconscious message that the beautiful are happier, richer, nicer, and more popular than the rest of us.

While this may work to get us to buy some products and services, there are a few drawbacks to selling perfection:

We are unable to relate. People who are very beautiful or successful are often seen and treated as “other.” This is also true of people held up as “saints” or moral examples. We may admire them, but have a hard time relating with their “perfection” on a human level.

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Perfection is simply a myth. If you hang around a perfect person long enough, you will quickly realize that they are not as perfect as they first seemed. They have idiosyncrasies and flaws just like we do. It can often be a deeply satisfying experience to learn that someone we admire is flawed. A shared shortcoming is even more powerful, as it helps us to not feel alone in the world. It can also give hope to someone who is struggling with their flaws. It lets them know that they can keep their shortcomings in check and live fulfilling and productive lives.

Perfection is not for sale. When we try to buy perfection, what we are really seeking is human connection. But what’s more human than the shared experience of being both flawed and beautiful?

Why Flaws Are Beautiful

While one aspect of beauty is symmetry, another important aspect is uniqueness. Our flaws are not simply unwelcome nuisances, they are integral parts of our lives. Each of us has our own combination of flaws and struggles that make us who we are. They make us unique, special, and beautiful.

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Flaws come in many flavors. Here are three areas of life in which we experience flaws, as well as ways we can harness their beauty and manage them positively.

Character Flaws

These are the personality flaws that can be as harmless as shyness or as hurtful as habitual lying. To be clear, there is not much beauty to be found in lying, cheating, or exhibiting arrogant behavior. When we see others engaging in such acts, our knee-jerk reaction is to be judgmental. But if we are honest with ourselves, we know that we too have the potential to do similar things under the right circumstances. We may even be able to recall a time in our lives when we fell victim to our own similar flaws. Here is where the beauty lies. It is in the acknowledgement that we can identify, at least in part, with another’s struggle. That in sharing our own struggles, we can strengthen another to help them manage or even overcome destructive behavior that come from their flaws. This beauty expresses the reality that we are all limited and that we need each other.

Some ways to manage character flaws:

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  • Acknowledge the flaw and any associated destructive behavior that is bringing harm to yourself and others.
  • Seek to replace destructive habits with positive ones.
  • Don’t go it alone. Employ the help of friends, loved ones, or professionals.
  • Accept the minor flaws that are not causing undue pain to yourself or others.
  • Seek out ways to help others in similar situations.

Physical Flaws

One of the negative side effects of a culture saturated with images of beautiful people is that it highlights the ways that “we” are not like “them.” My nose is not as straight, my jaw is not as strong, my teeth are not as white, my eyes are too big, my skin is too dark. This list of “flaws” can go on forever, and so can the insecurities that come from them. Some of us may have unusual physical features or scars that we experience as flaws. Know that your beauty comes not only from your physical appearance, but also from loving and embracing your physical uniqueness. Here is another thing to keep in mind: Having a physical feature that is not celebrated by society is not a flaw. It is you. It is me. It is beautiful.

Some tips on physical flaws:

  • Realize that we notice more about ourselves than other people do.
  • Resist the urge to constantly compare yourself with others.
  • Truly accept the beautiful person that you are, “flaws” and all. Look at yourself in the mirror every morning and say “I am beautiful!”

Emotional Scars

Our world is not perfect. Sometimes we bump into its imperfection in dramatic ways that can cause emotional scars. All it takes is one traumatic incident to change our lives forever. A person dealing with emotional scars may find it hard to trust, love, or feel safe. There may be a tendency to hide these scars, but healing often comes when we are able to expose them gently to the light. Some of the deepest human connections and bonds happen when we allow others into our most vulnerable spaces. This is beauty.

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Some ways to manage emotional scars:

  • Acknowledge the pain.
  • Do not be afraid to be vulnerable by sharing your story with someone you love and trust.
  • Be patient. Emotional wounds often heal or subside with the passage of time.
  • Seek the help of a professional counselor or therapist.
  • Let go.

May you discover the beauty in your flaws today, and know that you are gorgeous.

Featured photo credit: geralt via pixabay.com

More by this author

Cylon George

A spiritual chaplain and blogger who writes about practical spiritual tips for busy people.

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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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