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If You’re Leaving Someone For Not Losing Yourself, Congratulations

If You’re Leaving Someone For Not Losing Yourself, Congratulations

So they’re out of your life for good?

Have you lost someone who has been really important to you, who may even have been the “center of your world”, but who was doing you more harm than good? Have you had to stop seeing someone who intrigued, delighted, or attracted you but ultimately exerted a negative effect on your mental and spiritual health? Have you had to release someone who made you doubt who you were, what you stood for, or even made you feel slightly crazy? Even if you are struggling to see the positive aspects of your situation, at least take a moment to congratulate yourself. Although you will feel a degree of pain that accompanies loss, remind yourself on a daily basis that you have taken an extraordinarily brave step towards healing yourself and improving your life. Maintaining unhealthy relationships is a soul-destroying way to pass your time, so give yourself some well-earned praise for letting go and moving on.

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Why it’s hard to cut even the most toxic of ties

Even when someone has been demonstrably abusive, a persistent liar, or shown themselves to be a thoroughly toxic human being, letting go can still be immensely difficult. If someone has been in your life for a long time or has shared many important experiences with you, your attachment to them may be powerful. It takes great courage to recognize that sometimes, even if someone you like or love has good qualities, they aren’t worthy of a place in your life. You may have considered giving them yet another chance or trying to change yourself in the hope of changing the way they treat you, but to no avail. Listen to your gut instinct, because deep down you know that your decision to leave the relationship was right. Although other people may give you advice, you need to learn to trust your own ability to make decisions. Trust that your past self made the decision to cut contact for a good reason, and remind yourself of this if and when you are ever tempted to reach out to someone you have previously decided to leave behind.

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You’re stronger than you think

It takes maturity to leave an unhealthy relationship and seek out new friends or a new partner. Immature people or those lacking in self-confidence often cling to unhappy or toxic relationships because they are afraid of being alone or making the effort to connect with new people. If you can find the strength to evaluate a relationship and come to the conclusion that it is wreaking havoc with your self-esteem and self image and therefore should be abandoned, you can consider yourself truly grown up. A key skill everyone must learn in adulthood is knowing when to gracefully give up on a relationship that isn’t working.

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If you suspect they aren’t worth it, you’re absolutely correct!

No one worth knowing is worth losing yourself for. When you find yourself feeling “different” or “not like your usual self” around someone, it’s time to seriously consider whether this is a relationship worth keeping. If you have to deny or alter your identity or personality to keep someone around, the situation will never end happily. The world is full of people, and some of them will appreciate and love you for who you are. Why waste your time trying to fit in with those who don’t value who you truly are? When you sense that being in a relationship or friendship with someone comes at the cost of your identity or values, it’s time to leave.

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As one door closes, another door opens

Whilst losing someone close to you takes an emotional toll and leaves behind wounds that take time to heal, the long-term benefits are huge! Think how much time and effort you have probably spent attempting to salvage your toxic relationship. When you choose to stop engaging with the person concerned, you will free up a lot of energy. This can be channeled into self-improvement, enjoyable hobbies, your work, or meeting new, healthier people. The list is endless. In choosing to leave an unhappy relationship, you are also choosing the possibility of a brighter future. Be proud!

Featured photo credit: Cole Patrick via unsplash.com

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Jay Hill

Jay writes about communication and happiness on Lifehack.

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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

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