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7 Ways Forgiveness Frees You

7 Ways Forgiveness Frees You

Its been said that forgiveness is never free. Someone has paid the price in some way. So how can you attain freedom through forgiveness?

Well, yes, you’ve guessed it. You have probably paid the price. But the freedom you will attain through forgiveness far exceeds the pain, anguish, suffering, struggle, resentment  or angst you are suffering or have suffered. It seems hard to believe this works, but it is quite true.

When you have been hurt, purposefully or not, that pain is an emotionally heavy burden. If you allow yourself to hang onto it and keep lamenting over it, you only recirculate that negative energy and pain with which it was created. It will become a physical and emotional burden, a heavy backpack weighing you down. Physiologically and biochemically you will just keep recreating a circular pattern of pain and hurt within your body. But there is an escape route..if and only if you desire it, you will create it meaningfully and you will live it.

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It’s called forgiveness.

Lets be clear. It’s no magic bullet. Just because you tell yourself or someone you “forgive her” for her actions or behavior doesn’t mean your emotional pain and memory will be magically erased. Guess what? The memories may still linger. But each time they resurface, you will whisper a different message to yourself. A message of understanding, compassion and blessings.

There are plenty of ways forgiveness frees you and affords you freedom from past hurt, pain and suffering. But let’s just start with the magic number seven:

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1. Forgiveness allows for greater understanding.

To even begin the process of forgiving someone who has wronged you, you must be able to understand this person’s position or point of view. You don’t have to agree with it, you just need to understand it. You need to walk in their shoes for a short time. This is difficult because You are not Them! You don’t possess their characteristics, background, nor their prior conditioning. You didn’t experience what they did, yet, by learning to understand what they were thinking when they said or did things which hurt you, you open the door to empathy. This frees you by allowing you to expand your own feelings to those of others.

 2. Forgiveness brings forth your most compassionate self.

Along with understanding, you must learn to develop compassion in order to forgive another. Compassion is the concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others. Mother Teresa had great compassion for the poor, homeless and the hungry. She felt true compassion for those who were unwanted, unloved and uncared for. Forgiveness requires your sincere compassion for the behavior of the individual who hurt you and your inspired desire to help. This frees you by allowing yourself not only to feel what others may be going through, but to “give” of your heart to relieve them of their suffering.

3. Forgiveness allows you to let go of the past.

One of the greatest benefits of forgiveness is that is releases YOU from the bondage of your past pain and suffering. Most people think forgiving another helps the other person who caused the pain. Yes, it may, but greater than that, it allows you (as a victim) the freedom from your own suffering. How beautiful is that? The pure act of forgiveness rewires your emotional chemistry. You no longer need to keep replaying the same painful message. Your body, mind and spirit can finally be in unison.

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4. Forgiveness calms you.

When you  feel compassion and begin to forgive another, it actually calms you. Your heart rate decreases and you release the bonding hormone oxytocin. Forgiveness has a myriad of physical benefits and helps to free your physical body from the propensity to develop chronic illness and disease. Some health benefits of forgiveness  include:

  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health

5. Forgiveness creates great inner strength.

Being able to forgive someone who has harmed you is a very powerful quality. It takes great strength, understanding, and compassion. It also requires time and patience. These qualities build upon your strength of character and help you to realize that you too are human and have faults. By recognizing and acknowledging your own shortcomings, you develop great self esteem and the ability to view everyone as an equal. No one is greater or worse…each person is on their own path. You begin to develop tolerance for each unique person and their choices. You experience freedom from the judgment of others.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” ~Mahatma Gandhi~

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6. Forgiveness opens gates to a bigger spiritual picture.

Forgiveness requires spirituality on some level. Even if you are not a religious person, your ability to truly forgive another opens a beautiful spiritual door. With forgiveness you begin to experience life on a much different level. Forgiveness is not solely a task or a left brained exercise. It becomes attached to your emotional side–the limbic system of your brain...particularly..the hypothalamus. This is the part of your brain which deals with your emotion, and somewhere amidst this brain centered activity is your sense of spirituality.

Some brain researchers claim spirituality is linked to activity in the right parietal lobe. Others say many more parts of the brain are involved. Regardless, the interplay  of forgiveness and spirituality helps you to view a painful event with a much broader perspective. Feel blessed you are able to see these hurtful events in a much bigger way, leading you to greater understanding.

7. Forgiveness paves the path for resilience and happiness.

Forgiveness is just the prelude to living a happier, healthy life. It paves the way for you to create resilience, which translates into your ability to move through many of life’s challenges and difficulties. It allows you to create better relationships and optimize your well-being. Ultimately, forgiveness frees you and allows you to enjoy and extend your happiness in life, hopefully making your long life one of fulfillment, passion, contentment and giving. Isn’t that really the way you desire to live out your heartbeats?

Only you can choose forgiveness. You need to truly be ready to forgive from the depths of your soul, from your heart of hearts. It has to be real, authentic and actualized, not just words you utter, but enacted with a depth of feeling.

So set yourself free!

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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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