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What You Really Need to Feel Secure in a Relationship

What You Really Need to Feel Secure in a Relationship

People who are insecure in their relationships do irrational things all the time. Texting their partner a million times in a row. Or calling to check in constantly. Maybe they try to keep track of their partner’s whereabouts, even checking their email or Facebook messages when possible. Maybe you’ve experienced this, either as the insecure one, or the person dating the insecure one. Or maybe you’ve even been both, in different relationships.

Even if these aren’t the signs of a the healthiest relationships, these behaviors are common to make people feel more secure in a relationship. After getting a response back from the partner over text, Facebook, or an actual call, they feel better.

The problem is that people end up making a habit of these actions, repeat them over and over again to stay secure. These little actions, as innocuous as they are, can damage a relationship. Some might feel annoyed by their partners always checking up on them. Some might feel like there is a deep trust issue that hasn’t been solved.

The Origin of Insecurity

Imagine a world where everyone holds a certain amount of fuel in their hands. At the same time, a fire is lit in their heart and that fire needs constant fueling to survive.

Every single person will find their compatible person, someone who can find the fuel with which they can keep the other’s fire on.

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    Sometimes it’s a smooth exchange of fuel. Individuals find others like family members or friends to keep their fires lit and going.

      But many times, people refuse to give them fuel.

        These people could be their parents who failed to give them enough attention when they were still a child. Childhood development depends so much on a child’s ability to form a strong relationship with a caregiver.[1] It’s crucial for babies and children to survive by attaching to a caretaker. If children grow up without being paid enough attention by their caretaker, they can easily grow up to feel insecure and have trouble trusting other people. Feeling abandoned as a child, they might even doubt their own worthiness and a strong fear of being unwanted.

        Or it could be people who made them feel rejected in previous relationships. Being rejected or betrayed by a friend or romantic partner makes people feel unwanted. They feel hurt and even doubt their own self-worth. They can find it difficult to open up to others and trust anyone else. And when they find trusting other people hard, they will inevitably feel insecure in a relationship.

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        As time goes on, their fire gets smaller as they lack fuel.

          When, finally, someone suitable is there to give them the fuel, they seek a lot from this partner – sometimes, too much.

            In order to ensure a constant supply of fuel, they do everything they can: this is when they might start checking their partner’s texts or messages, or call too often. They can’t trust their partner because of what happened in their past.

            But when they demand so much fuel, it drains the other person.

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              And so all those things that someone does to try to feel more secure can annoy or hurt the other person. For example, they may fight a lot over small things because of moments of insecurity. Both will be exhausted: one demanding a lot of fuel, and the other trying to always supply the great demand.

              As you see, insecurity doesn’t come from the current relationship or partner. It comes, instead, from the inner fear of being abandoned, not being loved, and not being valued. This feeling is built up along the way.

              Where to Look for Security

              The fire within a person is insecurity, and the fuel is a way to feel secure.

              Waiting for another person to give you fuel is just chock full of insecurities. When other don’t want to do so, or their fuel doesn’t work well for you, your fire will become smaller. When your security depends on someone else, you give away all of your power. This is why when you’re rejected, neglected, or betrayed, you feel insecure.

              Giving yourself the fuel you need is how to make your own security really sustainable.

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              1. Fuel Your Own Fire

                Maybe you felt rejected when you were small. Or in you previous relationship, others made you feel unimportant or didn’t respect you. They didn’t reflect your self-worth.

                When you feel insecure, you are often focused on something you feel is lacking about you. For example, when you don’t feel good about who you are on the inside, it is totally natural to look outside of yourself for validation.

                But this isn’t a good way to stay self-sufficient. Instead, do something to make yourself feel good and secure, and you will no longer look outside for validation. Get a haircut, go to an interest class, and do what you’re good at. If you want to know more about how to feel good about yourself, read We Don’t Need More Likes, We Need Self-Esteem.

                2. Keep Your Fuel Independent From Your Partner’s

                  Even when you’re in a relationship, it’s crucial to keep your independence. Any health relationship is comprised of two healthy people. Becoming overly enmeshed in a relationship can lead to badly-defined boundaries. You’ll have an overly diffuse sense of your own needs.

                  When you aren’t dependent on your relationship to fill your needs, you feel more secure about your life. It’s important to maintain a sense of self-identity and take care of your own needs. If you had hobbies and passions prior to your relationship, keep maintaining them. For example, if you’re a runner, continue getting up early and making that a priority in your life. Having your own life outside of a relationship also make you continually interesting and helps you to grow.

                  Everyone has what they need to feel secure. Most people don’t realize it and try to look for it from others. But relying on others to make you feel secure is not healthy and will drain a relationship. Do what makes you feel confident and worthy, stop looking for others’ validation and you’ll find the security you’ve always needed. Light your own fire.

                  Reference

                  [1] Psychologist Word: Attachment Theory

                  More by this author

                  Anna Chui

                  Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the Content Strategist of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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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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