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Why It’s Really Good and Normal to Lose Some Friends as You Grow Older

Why It’s Really Good and Normal to Lose Some Friends as You Grow Older

friendship – IMG_3604Usually people feel sad and lonely when they notice their pool of friends is getting smaller and smaller as they grow older. But, it’s completely normal to lose friends as you grow older.

When you’re past the 30-year-old mark, you can no longer just “hang out” with friends carefree, every day. I mean, you’ve got responsibilities now; you’re wiser and have a clearer picture of what you want out of life.

Here’s why it’s really normal to lose some friends as you grow older, and why you shouldn’t be too downcast about it.

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1. You have to deal with family, career and other concerns first.

As you grow older, you are more engaged in building your business, career and or taking care of your family and just can’t see many of your friends as much as you used to anymore. That is completely normal and expected. If you were to neglect these key areas of your life so that you can spend days on friends’ couches and on local bar stools, it would be sad indeed.

Of course, it sucks when the rigors of adulthood wash away friendships, but it happens. Fortunately, you can always pick up the phone and catch up with a particularly close friend you’ve not been in touch with for a while.

2. You discover some friendships just aren’t worth the effort any more.

Maintaining friendships is hard work. It takes up your time, and even resources. While there are some friendships you cherish and wish to maintain for as long as possible, some just aren’t worth investing in anymore. Not that those friendships you aren’t interested in anymore are necessarily bad—it’s just that you are older now and have outgrown them.

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For example, friendships from when you were young, rebellious and a worse version of yourself are often best left in the past. On the surface, it may seem like it’s a bad thing to lose these old friendships, but it’s good. It’s proof that you are growing. If you are not losing some of those old friendships, you may not be growing up.

3. You relocate to geographically distant places.

One day a close friend calls and tells you she’s received a job offer from a company that pays well; the only catch is that it’s overseas. And she already took it. Another couple of months pass by and another close friend moves out of the city to another state hundred of miles away. And another, and another, and another. Eventually, only two close friends remain.

And then you call the two remaining friends to inform them you are getting married, buying a house upcountry or whatever, and planning to move out of the city soon. You realize getting together with these friends socially will become too much effort. So your friendship slowly ruptures. It sucks, but it it happens. You have to accept it and more on, otherwise you may never grow.

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4. You start to enjoy different things.

As we grow older, we change. Our friends also change, as do the things that bonded us. For example, you may have an old friend you loved because he was simple and modest, but who has since become rich and developed a taste for the extravagant. You notice it’s awkward for you to spend time with him now because you can’t afford the same restaurants, travel arrangements and other entertainments. So you gradually grow apart.

In cases like these, there’s often no malice or definitive parting of the ways. It just happens slowly and it’s good because it allows you to let go and make room for new friends who you share similar interests, values and maybe even station.

5. You realize that some friends are actually toxic.

Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” He was right. Sometimes you find some friends have problematic mindsets that are only revealed as they grow up. We all know those friends—those who have a skewed view of women or men, for example. They always manage to make you do or say things you’d vowed never to do again like drink, maybe. Their crazy lifestyle is problematic for you, and they somehow always drag you into it when you are around them.

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Although you genuinely care for them, you know they just aren’t good to be around anymore. So you avoid them. That’s a smart move because it protects you from getting into something you’ll regret later.

6. You have a handful of cherished friends you prioritize.

When you are older, you’ve had a chance to evaluate, sieve and settle for true friends who you know will stay no matter what, no matter how circumstances change. These true friends love you for who you are, not for what you have. And you love them in the same way.

These are the type of friends you prioritize now and are willing to move mountains for. You enjoy their company and they enjoy yours. Your conversations are great and visiting one another to pick each other’s brain is a pleasure.

It’s hard to find true friends like these so maybe there are just two, three or maybe four, if you are lucky – but never an entire gang. And that’s the way you like it because it take less effort to maintain one true friend than ten on-and-off buddies.

Featured photo credit: friendship – IMG_3604 by N i c o l a via Flickr via flickr.com

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David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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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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