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10 Relationship Mistakes That Make Us Lose Sight of What’s Really Important

10 Relationship Mistakes That Make Us Lose Sight of What’s Really Important

Relationships are taxing. They are frustrating, annoying, time consuming, but also absolutely amazing. A healthy relationship is one in which you don’t keep score, you both meet halfway, money isn’t an issue, you both value and respect each other and of course, harbor lots of love for each other.

But if it’s not like that, you may want to stop and consider what’s wrong. These are some relationship mistakes we all make at some point or the other that we absolutely must stop at once and here’s why.

For the Supporting Actors: Stop Undervaluing Yourself

Seriously you’re a superstar. Remember that time you aced your presentation even though you barely had enough time to prepare for it? Or when you just live day in and day out happily even though society often burdens you with ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’, ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and keeps trying to tell you how to live? Well, you are no less than a superstar.

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Believe it. Believe in your capacity and your credibility and your accomplishments. To believe in yourself, is to believe in your accomplishments and to believe that you deserve everything you get. Your relationship too, becomes happier as you are less riddled with insecurities and guilt and vulnerabilities and waste less time wondering what you might do wrong and end it or why you deserve it and instead lets you focus more on making your relationship the best it can be.

For the Co-dependent: Stop Outsourcing Your Happiness

Happiness is a strange and rare emotion. People find happiness in different places and different circumstances. Some find happiness in success, some find happiness in giving, some find happiness in contributing but very rarely do people find happiness by themselves. When we depend on others or other things to make us happy, our happiness gets conditional. And that is when something else, something we often have no power over, can make us sad. So stop outsourcing your happiness, especially to your partners. If your partner is the only thing in your life that makes you happy, their absence by itself would be enough to make you unhappy. Of course, you must be happy with your partner but your happiness must never stem from your partner.

For the Mind Readers: Stop Assuming

Men are silly. Women are silly. Many times words are misplaced, sentiments wounded and emotions hurt. It happens in all relationships. The best way to deal with it is to talk it out. A lot of emphasis is placed on communication because that’s the best way to sort things out! So don’t just give up or assume what your partner meant. If the relationship is worth it, one of you (preferably the one who shouted the loudest or who’s words were the meanest) swallow your ego and ask and talk and apologize (if need be). Work towards a better a relationship, not a petty one.

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For the Morphs: Stop Trying to Change Your Partner

To try to change someone is to indirectly tell them that they are not good enough. If you don’t think that individual is good enough for you, then don’t be in a relationship with them, however if you are in a relationship with them, accept them the way they are. Try to maintain a positive attitude about their habits that bother you and move along. We all have enough insecurities and vulnerabilities and to add to those, just because you want to see them act or behave a certain way is rather selfish. So, instead of trying to change your partner, focus more on adapting and accepting them with to their odd behaviors and weird quirks.

For the Cross Checkers: Stop Comparing Your Relationship

Every time you cross check and compare your relationship with someone else’s relationship, you’re bound to find something in another relationship that you like, that doesn’t exist in yours and then wonder why that is so. All relationships are a careful balance of uniqueness, love and the good and bad.  As far as someone else’s relationship is concerned  you more often than not you see only the ‘unique’ and then compare it to yours. Comparing you relationship to any others will not only tarnish what you have but it will also compel you to find reasons to be dissatisfied in your own.

For the Score Board Keepers: Those Who Keep Scores

It isn’t a game. A relationship doesn’t need scores to be kept. Who did what, when, how many times, these are things that each member in the relationship should be holding themselves accountable for and not keeping tabs on your partner. If you do catch yourself ‘counting’ ask yourself, is that, that insignificant task that would take you simply a minute to do, is more important than the love and support you harbor for each other?

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For the Competitors: Stop Competing With Your Partner

Competition is good as long as it’s not with each other, to compete with each other shows an attempt to outdo the other as you may not feel you’re good enough. Competing with each other in a relationship ruffles your ego urges you to out do the other in everything to ‘win’ and then subsequently you might end up resenting your partner for your need to constantly compete with them. Instead accept and know that you and your partner are equal in the relationship and feel comfortable in the idea that sometimes your partner will do better than you and sometimes you will. That you partner does well should make you proud of having a partner who is able and capable and not instill petty competition.

For the Dog Lovers: Stop Putting Your Partners Needs Before Yours

Self love is the best love. Love yourself before you love anyone else. As selfish as it may sound, loving yourself fully, completely, madly and in totality is the best way, if not the only way that you can love someone else. If you put someone else’s needs before yours you are likely to eventually burn out and get frustrated in the relationship as your needs then take a backseat. For when you love yourself, you take care of yourself, your needs, your happiness and then this  happiness is what you spread to the world and give to your relationship.

For the Mirrors: Giving Into Your Partner’s Idea Of You

Everyone is unique and just as you shouldn’t try to change them, don’t let your partner change you! You are the best version of you that there possibly could be and to try to change it would mean to live your life on someone else’s terms. That is not what a relationship is about. The change starts with little habitual observations and can blow into an entire attitude. You stick to your guns. If your partner respects you for it, you know you’ve found a keeper, if not, then, well, it’s your decision henceforth.

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For the Silence Decoders: Stop Taking Their Silence As An Indicator Of ‘Something Else’

Many times we are tired, or are having a bad week or just don’t want to talk. A lot of people tend to resort to silence even when they feel perfectly happy. They just don’t want to talk. If you feel your partner is like that, ask them about it, discuss it and then once you know, let them be. If they get silent don’t take that silence for something it’s not. Don’t over think it. A relationship goes both ways, your partner is bound to tell you if something is bothering them but if nothing is bothering them what will they tell you? Pestering them about it with constant questions, does nothing but annoy them. So don’t over think it, be patient and let them be.

Featured photo credit: Getty via i.huffpost.com

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Sanah Rizvi

Sanah is an influential public speaker and a devoted advocator of female rights.

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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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