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13 Things to Remember if You Love A Sensitive Person

13 Things to Remember if You Love A Sensitive Person

Being a sensitive person can oftentimes feel like a mixed bag filled with blessings yet also curses. On the one hand, our nervous system is highly wired to detect the smallest nuances in life and also to freak out over them. It’s quite a conundrum, and one that I have been struggling with since I was a tiny human being. When I was growing up, there was no “Highly Sensitive Person Guide To The World” on the internet. In fact, there was no internet. I hadn’t even heard of the term “Highly Sensitive Person” until I stumbled upon Elaine Aron’s self-test online. It explained so many things. Why I jump every time a car honks leaving me feeling like one of those trembling greyhound dogs. Why I simply cannot abide loud eaters and feel spectacularly uncomfortable in open-plan office environments. Whilst being a sensitive person can feel like being encumbered with a set list of unusual nuances, we are also great people to have in your lives for these 13 reasons:

1. When they feel, they really feel

Being so highly attuned with their nervous systems means that sensitive folks feel emotions in a very real and complex way. It is almost as if they are tuned into a different radio frequency than the rest of humanity. When their emotions are triggered, they cannot simply ignore them. Much like a passing storm, they need to work through any upsetting feelings before they can even begin to appreciate any silver linings.

2. They shed many tears

It’s important to know that in loving a sensitive person, you will learn to love their tears. They can cry at the drop of a hat at seemingly the silliest things. Witnessing random acts of meanness can set them off, but so can a litter of cute puppies. Those infomercials raising money for starving children in Africa typically get them every time, and they probably shouldn’t be in the room when those Sarah McLaughlin ASPCA commercials start playing.

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3. They are in touch with their emotional mind

Emotions are generally sensitive people’s closest companions. They feel, think, and act on an emotional level and therefore can be wonderfully considerate. They can also be moody as hell. Whilst the majority of people experience the ever-shifting sands of emotion, sensitive people tend to shift these sands at lightning speed. One minute they can be laughing at something you said and the next minute the laughter is gone, to be replaced by a frostier vibe. It’s important not to take any of this personally and just let them get on with it.

4. They can pick up the subtlest vibes

Being so highly attuned with their emotions means that they can intuit the emotions of others pretty perceptively. If they walk into a room and the vibe is off, they will feel it in an instant. This can be overwhelming for some people, since it’s hard to distinguish between their own moods and what they are empathizing from someone else. Yes, thats right. Sensitive people can literally take on someone else’s mood without even realizing it.

5. They are incredibly empathetic

There’s a reason why sensitive people often make wonderful teachers: they tend to have huge reserves of empathy for others. Its just harder for them to walk past an upsetting situation playing out on the street without coming away with some residual emotion. It’s important to know that they simply cannot just turn off their feelings. They are natural empathizers and can sometimes transmute the pain of others.

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6. They can come undone when witnessing extreme behavior

One of the singularly most upsetting things for a sensitive person is violence towards others. That’s why you probably won’t see them lining up for the latest slasher movie on a Friday night. (They’ll be the ones getting ready for a good cry at the latest Nicholas Sparks movie.) Violence and extreme behavior Freaks. Them. Out. Whilst others might enjoy watching a serial killer torture his victim on the big screen, those sensitive people will already be cowering in the restroom.

7. They need more downtime than most

All this empathizing and deep feelings mean that a sensitive person’s need for downtime is non-negotiable. Because they operate an overactive nervous system, they need time to decompress and spend time with themselves. Once they have recharged their emotional batteries, they will be ready to face the world again. But it’s paramount to respect their need to just be.

8. They dont deal well with criticism

Be careful when you feel the need to critique your sensitive friend, family member, or lover. Being so in tune with themselves means that they are usually their own worst enemies, so anything negative you have to say will likely already have been realized by themselves. This doesnt mean you have to live in a world of unicorns and lollipops when you hang out with them, but use some tact. A good way to approach criticism with them is to spread it on both sides with love; a critical sandwich, if you will. It will be far easier for them to swallow.

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9. They may forgive, but they dont forget

If you serve them a hateful sandwich instead, be warned. They might eventually forgive you, but they will never forget what you did. They are almost elephantean in their ability to recount all of the wrongs harbored against them, and it can be incredibly hard for them to shake it off and move on. There will be no firework show of fury, since they feel their emotions deeply and quietly.

10. Their are connected with their creativity

Their unique mode of perception allows them to develop a strong appreciation for nature, music, art, and literature. This can lead them into successful careers as artists, where they can give themselves permission to express their unique view of the world through a creative outlet.

11. They enjoy connecting with the natural world

The solitude that nature affords us means that sensitive people are drawn to surrounding themselves with the natural world. Their sensitive nervous systems can easily become saturated by the bombardment of sights, sounds, smells, and speed of modern life. An afternoon spent hiking or even reading in the park provides a sensitive person that precious time to reboot and recharge so that they feel ready to face the world again.

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12. They engage with their senses

Whilst some of us are more connected with one dominant sense, sensitive people tend to engage all of their senses. Not only do they feel emotion on a deep level, but they can also be highly attuned to strong tastes, noises, visuals, sounds, and touch.

13. They make for wonderfully caring friends

One of the hallmark characteristics of highly sensitive people is the ability to feel more deeply than their less-sensitive peers. This can make them fabulous people to know. Their deep level of concern for others leads to a sense of empathy and concern for their friends’ well being. They may also have more concern about how another person may be reacting in the face of a negative event, meaning they will likely be one of the first people to reach out in times of adversity.

Whilst sensitive people are too often perceived by others as being weak or lacking backbone, it’s important to remember that to feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness. Loving a sensitive person might be complicated, but it’s also important to remember that they hold some truly wonderful characteristics that will make having them in your life a truly unique experience.

Featured photo credit: We Heart It via weheartit.com

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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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