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6 Things You Need To Know When You Love An Alcoholic

6 Things You Need To Know When You Love An Alcoholic

When someone close to you has an addiction, like being an alcoholic, it’s hard to keep up a healthy relationship with that person. At times, you will feel the need to step back and re-evaluate your relationship with that person. But you do know that leaving an addict on his own is only going to make his or her addiction worse.

If you look at the numbers, 3 million deaths are linked to alcohol intoxication, each year. These include not only deaths caused by alcohol intoxication, but also as a result of impaired capacities, due to the alcohol consumption. Fighting with an addiction is a tough and long process, which drains everyone involved, not just the alcoholic.

Though the overall picture is bleak, you can still do a lot to make a difference to your loved one, helping him or her get out of the black hole of addiction. Unless you understand a number of facts about addicted people, you can easily become another problem for them. Here are some things you need to know when you are loving an alcoholic.

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1. You are not guilty

Many kids of alcoholics grow up thinking their parents’ addiction is their fault. Sisters, brothers or parents of addicts should also deal with their sense of guilt as the addiction is never their fault. Each person has his or her choices to make in life and if your loving spouse, brother or child chose to drink, it’s their own choice.

2. You are never alone

When you are dealing with someone’s addiction, there are many times when you feel alone. Fighting alcohol addiction is going to make you feel like the only person in the world who has an alcoholic loved one. Don’t let this feeling overwhelm you and prevent you from reaching out! If you really want to help an alcoholic, reach out to the others who are facing a similar situation. Statistically, there are over 16 million alcoholics in US only, each one with their own bunch of family and friends, so you are not alone. Not even close!

3. You won’t be able to forgive your loved one

Addiction is hard to cope with and it often makes the addicted steal or lie, which is definitely going to put a toll on your relationship. When your son or parent is going to hide things from you, then you will be angry on him. Forgiveness is not going to come easy, but this is a part of the process of loving an alcoholic or any other addicted person. Even when your loved one is going to be sober, you might have to struggle to forgive all the lies. Disappointment is going to be part of your relationship for a lot of time, but you need to be honest and keep an open mind. Be careful of what you say to your addicted loved one, during their recovery, as they are prone to falling into the alcohol trap again.

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Most people try to hide their real feelings towards their alcoholic special someone, but this is the worst thing you can do. The best way to deal with anger in your case is confronting it, with your alcoholic or in the presence of a therapist.

4. You need to detach from him

When you love an alcoholic you need to be able to detach yourself from the situation and analyze how much can you give without being drained by the highly demanding alcoholic in your life. Instead of running around, trying to solve all the problems created by the addiction, take a step back and continue to support your loved one, without constantly taking over his or her life. It will be difficult to stop solving all the messes they create, but it’s necessary, for your own sake and for the sake of the alcoholic in your life. If he is not able to stop destroying himself, you can’t do much and you are definitely not helping if you continue to solve all his problems.

Establish boundaries and keep them up, even when the alcoholic is not sober – it will be challenging, but effective for everyone in your family. Alcoholics don’t have limits, so establishing boundaries and clearly stating what you are willing to accept and what you can’t accept, can help your loved one overcome his addiction. If you need help establishing boundaries, turn to a therapist, who can help you.

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5. Learn to deal with the stigma

Alcohol addiction comes with a strong stigma and if your parents or other close family members are addicted, you will also carry the stigma. This is why you have to learn how to deal with it. People who never had to deal with alcoholics can’t understand what you and your loved ones have to put up with. They are not willing to understand, being guided by myths, so you have to learn how to ignore them. Turn to support groups, where you can find other people in your situation, who can provide emotional support you need. Get out there and get advice from people who are familiar with alcohol addiction and can help you, as well as the alcoholic in your entourage. Don’t let the stigma silence you!

6. Take time for your own recovery

When you have an alcoholic in your life, you can easily forget that you have your own feelings and needs, as you focus on the alcoholic. There are times when the people around you will judge you, when the alcoholic is going through a bad phase and you will feel there is no hope left for you. There is hope! There is always hope and you need to be comfortable with the fact every single door you open can bring you more unknown situations. Relax and take things as they come.

Accept the fact you can’t control everything. Remember you also have needs and look for ways to relax and recharge your batteries. In order to be able to support an alcoholic, you need to keep your own sanity and health, so never ignore your own person.

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Featured photo credit: Diricia de Vet/Flickr 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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