Advertising
Advertising

If You Can’t Stop Taking Yourself Too Seriously, Ask Yourself These 6 Questions

If You Can’t Stop Taking Yourself Too Seriously, Ask Yourself These 6 Questions

Confident people can laugh at themselves. If you would like to stress less and smile more, ask yourself these six questions that should convince you to stop taking yourself too seriously.

1. Stressing out about a situation won’t make it go away, so why not try to find the humor in it?

Stress is a self-inflicted mental nightmare. It’s amazing how your brain can turn a minor inconvenience into a major headache before the day is over. Please understand that stressing out is the least effect problem-solving technique in existence. I find it helpful to distance myself from events that stress me out as soon as they happen. I replay the event in my head, but this time as a spectator instead of a victim. Looking at the same situation as a person without emotional attachment puts me in my place, because nothing ever proves to be as bad as it seemed with a little perspective.

Advertising

2. Everyone is crazy in their own way, so why not embrace your weirdness?

If you think everybody you know has a perfect life due to the content of their Facebook feed, I can assure you that isn’t the case. Most people only post pictures and status updates that make them look good. Think twice before comparing yourself to a person based on the picturesque life they reflect publicly, because you’re probably witnessing a highlight reel that bears no resemblance to reality. And besides, it’s better to own the weird things about you than it is to hide them in a sea of upbeat statuses and family photos.

3. No one who changed the world conformed to society’s expectations, so why should you be a sheep?

How many conformists did you learn about in history class? I can’t recall a single one. Everyone you admire broke rank with what society expected of them, because there is nothing noteworthy about conforming to somebody else’s standards.

Advertising

4. Come to think of it, society is pretty screwed up as it is, so why would you want to have anything to do with it?

More people are interested in reading gossip magazines than literature. Reality TV shows devoid of substance garner more viewers than thought-provoking autobiographies or emotionally-wrenching dramas worth watching. Let that settle for a moment and ask yourself, “Is this a society that I want to be a part of?” I hope not.

5. You don’t have a crystal ball, so why should you obsess with things you can’t predict?

No matter how much you might wish for something to happen (or not), agonizing about it won’t do you a bit of good. You can, however, take as much action as possible to stack the odds in your favor. Even if things don’t work out as you hoped (how often does that really happen?), don’t freak out. An ability to react swiftly and decisively to a constantly changing set of circumstances will take you farther than any amount of planning ever would.

Advertising

6. People who take everything seriously are miserable to be around, so why would you do such a thing?

Would you rather hang out with a person who is able to laugh at themselves when they do something silly, or a person who gets upset at the slightest provocation? Would you rather have a friend who can cheer you up when you’re feeling down, or a friend who makes you feel even more depressed? Would you rather have a partner who is considerate enough confess their faults, or a partner who is so egocentric that they are unwilling to accept blame for anything? If you can’t stop taking yourself too seriously, considering those questions should be an eye-opener. Answer them honestly and do likewise. If you have a friend or co-worker who is a bit on the “serious” side, feel free to lighten them up by sharing this article.

Featured photo credit: A sad and pensive woman sitting by the ocean deep in thought. via shutterstock.com

Advertising

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail Less Thinking, More Doing: Develop the Action Habit Today How To Hustle: 10 Habits Of Highly Successful Hustlers 9 Things to Remember When You’re Having a Bad Day facebook addiction 5 Reasons for Your Facebook Addiction (and How to Break It)

Trending in Communication

1 5 Real Relationship Goals You Should Actually Strive Toward 2 When You Learn A Second Language, These 7 Amazing Things Will Happen To You 3 15 Things To Stop Doing If You Want To Be Truly Happy 4 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 5 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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

Read Next