Advertising
Advertising

Can Forgiveness Heal Your Soul?

Can Forgiveness Heal Your Soul?

Forgiveness can be a confusing concept. Welcome to the club. It is not exclusive. The membership has been prepaid by millions of folks before our current “How do I” submission is ever communicated. Here is what I have learned.

Forgiveness doesn’t change the story of the past, but it will change the perception of that story, further changing how you process it, which leads ultimately in changing how you tell it. Forgiveness becomes the connect-the-dots formula that heals the body, refreshes the mind, and encourages the soul. This loving practice turns our future into one worth looking forward to.

Ever desire to move on but struggle with just how this is accomplished? On one hand, the inclination to justify an uncomfortable emotion and consequently hold on to the behavior that follows is a pretty strong one to resist. It is commonly called “payback,” and it is normal. What on Earth do you do when feelings occur because in some way, you acknowledge that you have been unjustly treated? The reaction to this can lead us into a negative set of patterns if we aren’t mindful of how destructive it can be.

Advertising

Now, on the other hand we find ourselves with a desire to remove the very thing that is causing the emotional pain that we have determined is holding us back. No, not the source. That would be scandalous. We could find ourselves in front of a tribunal explaining why the person went missing. What I’m talking about is removing the knot inside us that is giving us an ongoing stomach ache.

Why Not Just Forget It?

Forgiveness is not predicated on forgetting. We cannot delete an experience however painful it may be. If you are like me, the wish is that you could. Forgiveness has everything to do with letting go of any claim that we carry to be compensated for the hurt or loss that we have suffered. Forgiveness is a radical approach to healing.

Robert Enright, a Catholic Psychologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, developed something called “The Enright Forgiveness Inventory” which is fairly detailed. A pdf for your review can be found here. In it, he gives a list of exercises that claim to benefit the psychological component that affects the heart.

Advertising

I have a simpler approach. The examination of one word: imperfection.

Consider that we all at one time or another have caused some degree of hurt. Excluding toddlers (because those little beans haven’t developed fully yet) we can summize that this is true. Is it that difficult to provide an opportunity for others to as well?

Once that reality is reached it becomes less about specific and more about degree. What measurement on our scale does the degree of unjust read? The specific action is just a side note. What becomes important is how the level of intensity causes us to feel about it.

Advertising

Relational or Situational

Is it relational or situational? Let me explain. While both test our ability to choose an appropriate reaction, only one has a longer shelf life.

Relational deals commonly with individuals and groups. A one-on-one you might say, where things are said or done that solicit a gasp, or in a group when someone is called out — typically in a not-so-nice way. Either way, you’re left down-right astonished.

Situational deals with your surroundings or environment. Say you lose your house in a fire, and arson is the cause. Yes, forgiveness is complicated.

Advertising

Relationships are our common thread. We cannot get through our day to day without them — unless of course, you are a recluse. This by choice has an entirely different structure altogether. I am not judging here; it just isn’t, for me, a preferred lifestyle.

Forgiveness in a relationship stems from what we are willing to accept. The wisdom here is that upon forgiving, we no longer put ourselves in that position again to experience what we have come to forgive. Read it again: it makes sense.

Forgiveness is a state of mind. Each one of us has a unique value that if stepped on unconsciously or otherwise will create resentment. Forgiveness must be a focused attention followed by deliberate action. Forgiveness becomes a precious gift you give to yourself. Forgiveness is freedom.

This Is Hard Work but It’s Not Impossible

This takes patience, practice, and persistence, but I assure you that forgiveness can relieve stress, create peace and — oh yeah — keep you out of a really bad revenge trend. As difficult at times as it can be, looking at the larger picture of life through the lens of love and kindness does in fact cleanse and nurture the soul. I encourage you all to give this a try. There is a reason the “Golden Rule” is a great living philosophy. It works.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

More by this author

andre lewis

Former Inside Operations Supervisor UPS

Can Forgiveness Heal Your Soul? A Superfood Must Have On Your Next Grocery Trip! Adding Years to Your Life Through Prayer and Meditation Making soul decisions can bring greater joy into your world Listening To The Words That Young Voices Speak

Trending in Communication

1 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 2 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake 3 7 Science-Backed Books About Spirituality That Will Change Your Life 4 20 Things Life Is Too Short to Worry About 5 How to Find Inner Peace and Lasting Happiness

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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

Read Next