Body language is a powerful thing. Not just for communicating with others, but with yourself. Recently I’ve realized that, just as talking about yourself negatively in your mind can make you increasingly insecure, how you carry yourself can as well.
When I was younger, I was a very confident, out-going person. I was the bridge between social groups. I would hangout with anyone, but I would always try and bring different little “cliques” together, draw people out of their shells. I didn’t care what people thought of me, how I looked, dressed, acted. Unfortunately, I didn’t hangout with a very good crowd. I was impressionable, and I trusted the wrong people. Those people walked all over me, broke me down, and after being hurt too many times, I withdrew. Hid within myself, and lost that out-going individual somewhere along the way.
Since then, I’ve been trying to come back out of my shell. And in that journey I’ve realized how important it is to set yourself up to feel confident before you go into a social situation that you know will be a struggle. I have a tendency to communicate my insecurities in my body language. I have trouble making eye-contact, I stutter a little when I’m nervous, sometimes my hands even shake. If I’m not thinking about it, I tend to walk with my shoulders hunched a bit, not make eye-contact with anyone, avoid having to talk to people, and hide behind my curtain of golden brown hair. Or, at least that’s how I have been. Recently though, having had to work with the public a lot in my retail jobs, forced to provide friendly and competent customer service, I’m beginning to find my confidence again.
I had a job interview last month. And something was different about it. As I walked in, I felt good. I felt comfortable in my own skin, I was dressed in such a way that I felt attractive, and I walked in with my shoulders back, head high. I realized I was communicating something to myself through my body language. My interviewer said when we were finished “Well, you interview quite well! It was nice to meet you!” I really enjoyed that feeling, and I’ve been trying to replicate it. It’s been easier than you might think! Generally, even if I’m not feeling so good about myself, if I act like I do, and walk like I do, I begin to feel more confident. It’s amazing. Also, people are more willing to approach me and talk to me when I don’t look like I’m trying to hide from them. Which is good, because I’m still not very good at starting conversations.
The more I practice this, the easier it gets. The hardest time for me to use this is in non-work related places. My College & Career group (basically a church service for 20-somethings) is one of the hardest. Social places, where I actually want to make friends, still scare me a lot. I just don’t want to be hurt again, so I don’t like getting close to people. But I’m trying, and that’s what counts.
So, fellow introverts, shy and awkward people, and all those who struggle with social interaction, try changing the way you hold yourself. Walk into the room like your comfortable with yourself, and before you know it, you will be.
Until next time!