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To Let Go Of A Past Relationship, You Need To Go Through These 5 Stages

To Let Go Of A Past Relationship, You Need To Go Through These 5 Stages

Breaking up with someone you love so much is always hard.

How many sleepless nights have you been through since the day you said goodbye? How many painful days have you been through since the day you fell apart? How long have you been trapped in the past and unable to move on?

You want to forget. And you want to forgive. But it you just can’t.

You thought you had forgotten the best memories of the past. But whenever you walk past the place where you two first met, the good old days pop up in your mind again and you just can’t help but burst into tears.

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You thought you had forgiven him for everything he did to you. But whenever you see his/her face appearing on your Facebook news feed, you find your heart is filled with a complicated feeling of melancholy and anger.

Letting go is never easy. But here’s what we can do with the grief and loss.

The 5 Stages of Grief and Loss

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a Swiss psychiatrist, introduced the five stages of grief in her book On Death and Dying (1969).[1] The model was initially inspired by her work with terminally ill patients. But now it is also widely adopted to explain the behavior of people who experience grief and loss. After all, facing death and facing the death of a relationship share so much in common.

1. Denial: This CAN’T be happening

The first reaction to the loss of a relationship is to deny the reality of the situation. This is a defence mechanism to stop you from dealing with painful feelings.[2] You try to pretend everything’s alright but deep down in your heart you know it is not real.

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When you have the feeling that you’re denying the loss of a cherished one, you should focus on accepting the brutal truth:

  • Remind yourself things have changed every day
  • Stop texting or making phone calls as you used to
  • Allow yourself to cry whenever you feel the pain
  • Stay with someone who can help you recognize the truth
  • Keep a diary to write down how you feel every day

2. Anger: How could he/she do this to me?

As time goes by, the reality becomes less blurry and you would gradually feel the pain of heartbreak. The pain is sometimes redirected and expressed as anger. You need someone to be blamed for causing you pain: your ex, people around you, the universe, or even yourself. Rationally, you know they might not be the one to be blamed but you just can’t control your emotions.

What you need here is to forgive:

  • Know that both of you share the responsibility for the breakup
  • Forgive yourself for any inadequacies as no one is perfect
  • Realize that you are not the only one who suffers the pain
  • Admit that you are not functioning at your best right now
  • Distract yourself through exercise

3. Bargaining: Can’t we just give it one more try?

When you realize that the reality is pushing you towards to the edge of a cliff, you panic and strive to survive. You would do everything and anything to reverse the situation. You look for any possible ways to win him/her back, perhaps through negotiation or threat. You just don’t want to feel the pain.

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But for most of the time, things don’t happen as you wish. You should better let it go:

  • Avoid direct contact temporarily
  • Stay away from social media where you might find anything about him
  • Reassure yourself that you two are not getting back together
  • Never try to win him/her back again and again
  • Realize that you are independent enough to be single

4. Depression: It’s all OVER

When you finally realize you can do nothing to alter whatever you are experiencing, you are real depressed: feeling tired all the time, not wanting to do anything, avoiding friends and family, losing appetite or overeating, suffering from insomnia or sleeping too much. The hopelessness makes you feel hard to move on.

Nobody says it is easy but you should regain your mental and physical health before it is too late:

5. Acceptance: Okay, I’m trying

Now, you are almost there. When you begin to accept whatever happens on you, you would gradually be able to make peace with the loss. It doesn’t guarantee happiness as you are still in one of the stages of grief, but you will be less emotional and begin to find some light along the road. And the light will eventually guide you home.

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Things that evoke memories might still trigger your emotions but you can prevent self-absorption again:

  • Put the old photos in a place where you can’t easily reach
  • Keep yourself away from the places which trigger your emotions
  • Focus on the benefits of letting go
  • Only reconnect with him when you are ready to be friends
  • Believe that everything is going to be okay and it is just a matter of time

Letting Go Makes Us Stronger

We always want a long-lasting relationship. We want someone to stay with us whatever happens in life. We want to hold on. But sometimes what makes us strong is letting go instead.

When you look back in the future, you will be surprised at how much you have grown.

Reference

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Sheba Leung

Translator. Sport lover. Traveler.

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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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