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5 Divorce Screw-Ups to Avoid

5 Divorce Screw-Ups to Avoid

Although feeling overwhelmed and confused during divorce is normal, remember to avoid the egregious divorce mistakes. It will save you time, money, and your sanity so that you can move on to the next chapter of your life better, not broken or bitter.

1. Not looking at the big picture

One of the reasons why divorce feels horrible is because you probably weren’t taught how to plan ahead in divorce. It’s funny, isn’t it? Guidance counselors and academic advisers in school harped on planning and envisioning our future, while financial advisors preach about planning for retirement. But why, during divorce, don’t you apply those same principles?

Instead of asking yourself, “What’s the game plan? Where do I want to be in a year with this divorce and how can I get there?” and then reverse-engineering. Most people just stumble through the days and months, allowing events to unfold and then reacting to them. It’s no wonder why you feel helpless and that your life have spun out of control.

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Planning where you want to be with the divorce six months from now and a year from now, and then then putting the steps in to get there, has bigger dividends than struggling to make it through the day and merely reacting to events as they unfold. This method can also help plan for contingencies and worst-case scenarios so you don’t freak out if things get ugly.

2. Making decisions based on emotion rather than logic

When you strip away the grief, heartache, anxiety, and overwhelmed feeling, divorce is a business transaction: dividing assets and debts and then continuing your life as an individual. That’s not said to minimize the relationship you and your spouse had together, but it’s absolutely critical to shelf those thoughts and memories when dealing with the business transactions of divorce.

Your head understands, but the part of you that is heartbroken and angry may spend months fighting over things that have nothing to do with business. It’s understandable: we make decisions based on emotions because we are hurting. And the only way you know how to deal with those emotions is by projecting that pain onto our business decisions. We fight and emotionally overreact because we think we will “win,” the divorce. This tit-for-tat can go on for months and years, which only prolongs the stress and ensures a future of bitterness.

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Nobody wins in divorce, and you must make your decisions from a clear-headed and rational place. Otherwise, you will find yourself robbed of time, money, and emotional energy—assets that are put to better use in your post-divorce life.

3. Letting other decide for you

When you’re going through a messy divorce that has a million moving parts to it, it can be easy to say, “You know what?!?! I’m just going to let my lawyer figure it out for me.” Or, if we have a particular problem, you may throw a question out on a group forum, and listen to the advice of other contributors, basing your decision on strangers.

There is nothing wrong with educating yourself or asking for advice. But remember that ultimately, this is your life and your future. It is your right and your responsibility to make divorce decisions for yourself. Sure, you can have people advise you—divorce professionals working for you is never a bad thing. But remember, at the end of the day it is you who has to live with the divorce decisions that are made—shouldn’t you be the one making them?

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4. Not Educating Yourself

Do you remember those cheesy public service announcements on TV with the shooting star that said “The More You Know?” Or the posters in elementary school, that were like, “Knowledge is Power.” Well, teachers and librarians loved that stuff because it is true.

Divorce can feel overwhelming because you’re scared of the unknown. And the only way to ease that fear is to educate yourself about the process. Quality divorce resources online are plentiful, many divorce lawyers and divorce coaches offer free consultations, and there are support groups and community classes that will help you understand your rights, provide you to-do checklists, and offer assistance so you do not get run over in the process.

5. Latching onto someone else too soon

Once you and your spouse split, you are given this amazing opportunity to heal, rediscover yourself, and reclaim your independence—things that only you can do. So why on earth would you invest yourself emotionally right away with someone new, when you haven’t had any time to learn how to be on your own? And how much worse will you feel when that “new, promising” relationship doesn’t work out?

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Sure, you’re human, and you want to be touched and loved. And it may have been months or years since you have felt wanted or passionate. Separation is a lonely place to be, but you know what’s even worse? Dependence—depending on another romantic relationship to make you feel loved and validated. Now is the time to break that cycle.

Desperately going on the rebound does a great disservice to you because it robs you of the opportunity to heal your heart and clear your head. When you look to that other person to fill that emptiness and to “save you,” you’re robbing them of the chance to have the healthy relationship that they deserve.

You don’t need anybody to save you or to heal you. You are strong and smart and you’ve got this. Lean on your friends, your family, a good therapist, divorce support groups, to listen and encourage when you feel hurt. Find the happiness you’ve been missing by discovering and enjoying your newly found freedom.

Featured photo credit: Help/Marina del Castell via flickr.com

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Martha Bodyfelt

Certified Divorce and Recovery Coach

How To Kick Your Divorce Anxiety In The Ass 5 Divorce Screw-Ups to Avoid 3 Steps for Beating Your Divorce Fears 10 Things to Know Before You Decide to Divorce 9 Ways to Pick Your Divorce Battles

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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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