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Finding “The One” by Chance, Keeping “The One” by Choice

Finding “The One” by Chance, Keeping “The One” by Choice

It’s an ongoing debate, in my own head anyway. Does ‘the one’ just exist or do we have to work at it?

Are some couples happier because they found the right partner, or do they work harder at being the right partners?

Or, my own pondering…are some people just totally inept at ever being truly happy with any single person?

Is ‘the one’ out there?

It seems a lot of us think of these questions. Married or single. Male or female. The issue doesn’t discriminate. It just nags at many of us.

If I could count people who comment or message me about my blog as research, I would say it’s the reason a lot of people contemplate or get divorced. The search for ‘the one.’ The belief that they married the wrong person and the right one is out there somewhere waiting for them. (Or, they think they found them already.)

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And, for those of us who are single, we’re sitting around waiting for ‘the one’ to magically appear in our lives. Or, we’re actively pursuing looking for him or her. Or, we’ve decided that we are going to just be happy on our own and ‘the one’ will come along when we least expect it. Whatever it is, it’s all about ‘the one.’

Maybe, maybe not

One school of thought is, ‘yes, the one is out there.’ The quotes say something like, “You’ll never find the right one until you let go of the wrong one.” Or, how all the failed relationships were just leading to the perfect one. This might be true. Or, it might not.

It might be more about making it right. Sure, there are people who are better for each other. People who will have chemistry, share common interests, connect. And, others just don’t work at all. We all have that friend’s husband who we say “there is no way I could be married to him.” So, no, not anyone can be ‘the one.’ But, I’m not sure it can’t be the one you’re with. Or the one you were with.

Most of us start dating for some reason. Some initial attraction. Something that draws us to the other person. Many relationships end quickly, like the next morning when the wine has worn off and you wonder what the heck you were thinking. Or, a few weeks later when you realize he really doesn’t have a job, is living with his parents, and he’s 45.

Other relationships go on from there.  You enjoy each other’s company. Are physically attracted to one another. And/or think it’s a good thing. You start to share your lives with each other. Introduce the kids. And, start making plans together. You might even get married. You are a couple.

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And that’s where the road divides. For a few lucky ones, it goes straight ahead. Onward and upward, to bigger and better things. There might be a few bumps along the way, but they continue on.

For too many others, the road goes off in another direction. Doubt sets in. Communication starts to fail. They forget what they ever saw in the person. And, maybe a new road pops up that looks like a better option. A straighter path to the destination.

The thing is, all roads have their problems. It’s whether you fix it or build a new one that is the question. So how do you know?

By Chance

This is where that combination of chance and choice comes in. Chance is meeting someone. Choice is making it work. We have all had chances to meet ‘the one’ but are we willing to choose that person over and over again.

There is something about meeting someone in your 20s that seems to be problematic. My argument, you have no idea who you are at that age. It’s that college/post-college time when you’re your most rebellious. It’s the time when you are trying to decide who you want to be. Trying to live up to your expectations of yourself. Finding someone who also lives up to those expectations.

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So maybe who we choose during that time is not someone who will easily adjust to who we become when we’ve finally settled in to who we really are. Or, maybe we won’t adjust to them. Maybe that’s when we find a new ‘one.’ Someone who gets us the way we are now.

And, that makes sense. We all want to be loved for who we are. But, is it worth the sacrifices? All the years you invested? The kids? The possibility of being alone for the rest of your life?

And what if you weren’t in your 20s? What if you just met a year or two ago and things just got too complicated? It was too difficult to blend families. You got used to being on your own and didn’t want to give up your freedom. Or, perhaps, you got scared of getting hurt again.

Whatever the scenario, the reality is, you already found ‘the one’ but are now debating letting ‘the one’ go. Unless you choose not to.

By Choice

You can choose to stay with that one. Make things better. Go to counseling. Learn to communicate better. Work at it. But, I mean, really, really work at it.

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This is where the choice truly makes a difference. How hard are you willing to work at it? And, perhaps just as importantly, how willing is the other person to work at it? It really does take two to make a relationship work.

When you work together, you can establish the communication, commitment and collaboration (the 3Cs of relationships, in my opinion) it takes to find what’s missing. What you lost. Or, learn what each other wants now. You can choose to rediscover ‘the one’ you’re with.

Are you ‘the one’ you’re looking for?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out. Sometimes both people aren’t willing to do the work. Which begs the question, of me anyway, are some people just never going to be happy with any single person? Oftentimes, it’s only one person who actually has a problem with the relationship. The other person is perfectly happy and sees no real need to work on anything. They understand you’re not happy, but nothing they do seems to make it any better. So why should it be different in any other relationship, with any other ‘one’?

Maybe the core of the problem is that ‘the one’ you’re not happy with is yourself. Maybe that’s the person you need to worry about first. Perhaps your significant other will understand this and give you all the time you need to figure that out. Perhaps he or she won’t and you’ll need to do it on your own. Whatever the case, ‘the one’ you’re looking for is you. Find you, and maybe then you will find ‘the one.’

Featured photo credit: MarkGroves.tv via markgroves.tv

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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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