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How People Who Lack Attention In Their Childhood Love Differently

How People Who Lack Attention In Their Childhood Love Differently

I spent a lot of my early adulthood trying to work out what “love” really was. I was not in a good place emotionally and mentally. I’d endured a lot as a child and had a lot of difficulty loving myself. Fortunately, through many years of self-discovery and support of my husband, I was able to become the person I am today. A more authentic, happier version of myself. Someone who feels and loves deeply. Someone who may sometimes wrestle with their emotions, but has the ability now not to affect those around them as much.

Maybe you’ve felt the way I have. Maybe you still feel that way. But just remember, there is a silver lining. As much as the pain of your childhood hurts, it won’t stop you from living the life that you deserve. It won’t stop you from having the ability to love yourself and to love others.

Here are the 10 ways that people who lack attention in their childhood might love differently, but the positive aspects to each of them.

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1. They understand that love is much more than words.

‘Love’ can mean so many different things to different people. It can mean saying, “I love you”. It can mean buying gifts for someone else. It can mean making time for other people. It can mean giving a loved one hugs and kisses. But to someone who has felt unloved as a child, it might not mean many of these things at all. When you’ve lacked affection as a child, “love” almost feels like a non-existent concept in your life. It’s something that you’re still struggling to understand. But you probably understand that feeling and expressing love is so much more than the words, “I love you”. It’s about proving it with your actions. It’s about trusting someone and being trusting. It’s about respecting a person’s individuality and dreams. The pain you experienced as a child has helped you to gain a deeper understanding of what “love” really is.

2. They know that trust can take a long time to build.

Growing up feeling unloved, unappreciated, and unimportant can leave lasting impacts on a person’s ability to trust.They might be constantly worrying that the people they love will inevitably hurt them. That they are bound to be alone. But this anxiety also means that they know the value of trust. They know that when someone puts their trust in you, it is your utmost responsibility to stay loyal and honest. It will strengthen the bond between two people.

3. They don’t want anyone hurt the way they were.

If you’re an adult whose childhood was far from ideal, chances are that you are determined not to treat others the same. If you’ve come to terms with some of your experiences, you’ve probably realized that it’s not your fault and have worked through some of your emotions. You probably know by now that nobody deserves to be treated like you were. Thankfully, this has helped you to become a kinder, more compassionate and empathetic person who finds it easy to understand how people feel. Throughout many of your relationships, you probably feel a deep love for people and want to listen to their problems. You want them to know that no matter what happens, that someone loves and cares about them.

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4. They find it very difficult to believe that there are “plenty of fish in the sea”.

If you’re someone who didn’t get their needs met as a child, you’ve probably struggled a bit with your romantic relationships. Throughout your relationships, you may have been mistreated but felt you didn’t deserve any better. Maybe you were afraid that someone better would never come along. Maybe you were too scared to speak up about how you felt. But your carefulness in selecting partners also has a plus side. You don’t want history repeating itself – you want to surround yourself with people who love and deserve you. You might be putting up a wall, but it’s a wall that will come down when you’ve found the right person for you.

5. They can’t helping questioning people’s love.

If you’ve experienced a lot of childhood pain, you might find yourself thinking a lot, “It’s too good to be true.” You want to trust people and believe in their love, but you can’t help but question it. Your fear and insecurities are holding you back. The other side of the coin though is that you are more alert to warning signs. You stand up for what you believe in and try your best to put yourself first.

6. They are very sensitive about their weaknesses.

If you’re someone who felt neglected during childhood, your sensitivity levels might be quite high. You might find it difficult to accept constructive criticism. You might find jokes said at your expense as offensive and hurtful. You might believe that you have to be perfect to be a ‘good’ or ‘successful’ person. Thankfully though, this means you’re quite tuned into other people’s emotions and feelings. You show love to others by not hurting them. By being aware of their sensitivities. By giving them honest advice without upsetting them in the process.

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7. They have very high expectations of themselves.

Unfortunately, for those who have grown up fighting for their family’s attention, they might set very high standards for themselves. They might be perfectionists. You might even worry your loved ones because you put a bit too much pressure on yourself. But the upside is, you might also be someone who strongly believes in working hard. You don’t wait for luck to make life happen. You go out there and look out for opportunities. For the first time in your life, you are in control and it’s this control that is so empowering for you.

8. They sometimes find it easier to forgive.

Having been tested and challenged at such a young age, you’ve learnt very early on that acceptance helps in moving forward. That holding onto anger and resentment does nobody any good, especially for yourself. In the same token, you might find it easier to understand the actions of others and to forgive as much as you can. You may not forget the actions of others, but you know that relationships benefit from compromise and forgiveness. Nobody is perfect and you understand that.

9. They just want their loved ones to be happy.

With the painful experiences that you’ve endured, you can’t help but focus on what truly matters in life. All you want is to be happy and for the people you love to be happy. You think that everything else, like money, material possessions, physical appearance, how we compare to others – is simply not as important.

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10. They struggle with loving themselves.

If you’re someone who lacked attention during childhood, the most difficult relationship you will ever have is the one you have with yourself. Sometimes it’ll feel like you’re own worst enemy. That your biggest critic is actually yourself. Your life is a constant battle between what you feel about yourself and what you wish to feel. But learning to love yourself is a journey. When you believe that you are important and have the ability to make a positive difference in the world, you will transform the way you think about yourself and how you love others.

Featured photo credit: Colin J via flickr.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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