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Why letting go of your “Big Love” is okay.

Why letting go of your “Big Love” is okay.

So you ended things with that one person you loved more than life itself? It’s okay. You thought you two were going to be together forever? It’s okay. You were loving the fact that you were never going to have to live through another awful first date? We promise you, it is okay.

There are people out there who meet their true love at an extremely young age (high school sweethearts. How cute, right?). However, there are also those who have to kiss quite a few frogs before they are willing to settle down with someone til’ death do them part. Below you will find several reasons as to why it is completely okay that you did not end up with your Big Love, may they be your first or your seventh.

You’re probably not the same person you were when you got together

You will not remain the same person you are now throughout the duration of your life. You and your significant other are going to change tremendously. Especially during the age of adolescence and young adulthood. The idea of ending up with your high school sweetheart is extremely romanticized; while that possibility is beautiful for those that can accomplish it, it is most certainly not for everyone.

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High School and College are the times in your life when you are really figuring out who you are and what you want to accomplish for yourself. If it turns out that you two are becoming less compatible or heading in different directions, it is completely okay to say goodbye. You take what you learned from that relationship, utilize the good and discard the bad.

If the relationship is not benefiting you, you need to let it go

I wish I had a dollar for every time I have thought this, and spoken it out loud. Relationships are work, yes, I get that; but relationships are also meant to be your breath of fresh air in the craziness that is life. When you’re having an awful day at work or your best friend is driving you bonkers, your significant other is supposed to be the person that is there to give you a hug a.

They are not meant to add additional stress to your already stressful life. They are supposed to be the ones who make you laugh when you’re pissed off and who will take the weight off your shoulders by helping out around the house when you just can’t handle it that day. When all else fails, your significant other is supposed to be your salvation, not an additional burden.

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Nothing irks me more than when I hear someone say “We’ve been together so long, I have to make it work.” No. You don’t. When you’re married or have kids, that’s a different story. But when you’re young and unencumbered by that legal tie, you are free to do whatever the hell you want. Spend that time being happy, not constantly being dragged down by someone who supposedly loves you.

They are all about themselves

Compromise. Give and take. There are a million ways to say it, but the meaning is the same. If you are in a relationship (or friendship, for that matter) where the person only cares about themselves and their needs, run. Run fast. If they are all about themselves now, imagine how they’ll be when shit hits the fan and you have a mortgage, two cars, three babies, and a golden retriever that all depend on you.

In a successful relationship there will be times when they are the focus, there will be times when you are the focus, and there will be times when the focus is split evenly. There is a delicate ebb and flow to relationships that are supposed to benefit both sides. You are each others rock, but one person can only remain the rock for so long before the weight ultimately ends up crushing you; rendering you useless to them and to yourself.

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Someone different, and probably better, is waiting for you

Seriously. I promise. Don’t ever stay with someone simply because you don’t think anyone else would want you. Or, say it was they who made the decision that you were no longer the right person for them; grieve, and then move on. Even if it feels like they were the best thing that would ever happen to you and you will never find anyone better; you will. End of story.

That seems so impossible, I know, but it’s the truth. Take as long as you need. Sit in your pajamas and watch Sex and the City on repeat and blast some Taylor Swift for as long as you need to before you can realize your worth and emerge from this break up better off then you ever thought possible.

And last but not least;

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You are allowed more than one Big Love

Isn’t that amazing? You are more than welcome to have as many Big Loves as it takes for you to find the perfect one; as I like to call it, your Soulmate. Big Loves are rare, beautiful, and have an incredible impact on who a person eventually becomes. But nowhere in the manual of life does it say that every person only gets one Big Love.

In a society where people are living to be over 100 years old, it would be soul-crushing to believe that you only get one shot. So go out there, live, love, and say goodbye when you need to. Life is simultaneously too long and too short to spend it with anyone who doesn’t bring the best out of you, and love you in as Big of a way as you love them.

Featured photo credit: gratisography via gratisography.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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