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10 Ways Of Letting Go Of A Past Relationship Peacefully And Moving On

10 Ways Of Letting Go Of A Past Relationship Peacefully And Moving On

Letting go of a relationship that you were certain would last forever or that you just knew was ”the one” is painful. At the same time, letting go will be the most empowering thing you’ll ever do. Loving another is a lesson, in and of itself. Learning to let go and make peace with things you cannot change is vital. Letting go may involve you rethinking boundaries and negative relationship patterns, becoming more assertive or deciding to end contact with toxic people or others who have harmed you. Learning to understand that you can’t force people to do things, or to love you in return, in the way you want, will set you free.

Chilean poet Pablo Neruda wrote many years ago, ”Let us forget with generosity the people who cannot love us.” Some people won’t have the ability to love in a healthy way. We can heed Neruda’s advice and wish them well on their journey, while saying farewell. Letting go of a past relationship is a lot like mourning a death. You’ll notice denial, anger, rationalization, obsessive thoughts on the relationship and the other person, among other things, and eventually, acceptance.

Here are 10 ways that you can let go of a past relationship and move on.

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1. Accept that the relationship has come to an end.

This is the hardest but most important step in letting go of a past relationship. If you are not aware and present to the fact that it’s over, you won’t be able to process the grief and loss. You need time to get in touch with your pain and understand your feelings. Acceptance is a form of closure that you shouldn’t ignore. Mindfulness-based meditation could be helpful. During this time, you may find solace in making art, embracing your favorite hobbies and friends.

2. Take your time to process the pain.

It’s your right to mourn the relationship, grieve its death and release the ensuing sadness. Let yourself process the rejection. Don’t avoid the more intense parts of this transition. Don’t force yourself to get over it in a rush. This will help you understand yourself better. If you are a more sensitive person than most, and struggle with issues of abandonment, this may be a good time to seek out a counselor or psychologist that can support you and help sort out remaining wounds from past relationships. Do remind yourself frequently that healing is not a race.

3. Don’t internet-stalk or make plans of revenge.

Confucius once said, ”Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” And in matters of heartbreak, this is very fitting. You may be so hurt and confused that you want the other person to experience what you are going through, and some may even encourage you to do so. No one wins in the game of revenge. Trying to hurt another because you are upset is immature, dangerous and a waste of time. If you are busy making revenge, you are not healing. Avoid obsessively following and finding them on the internet and in real life. The last thing you need to see is them off doing things you once enjoyed together, or pursuing another partner. Reading their posts can also keep you stuck in false hopes.

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4. Don’t try to be ”just friends”, if the relationships end was not mutual.

Pushing for a platonic friendship right after the breakup of a romantic relationship is too much, too soon. No one can turn their emotions on and off like that. If you or the other person can, this can be a marker of an emotional issue that may require professional help. Remind yourself again that you cannot fix, change or do someone else’s healing for them. Suddenly reseting the relationship back to a casual friendship is not helpful in letting go. If the other person is pushing you to be their friend and remain in constant contact, it could signal their own issues with abandonment, control or poor boundaries. They may also be pushing for your friendship so they don’t have to feel bad or guilty for breaking up with you. You are not required to be friends or in contact with the person. If the relationships’ ending was mutual, you may choose to attempt a friendship with the person later on, but you’ll still need your own time and space to decide what is in your best interest. Keep in mind, some people will need to be loved from afar.

5. Don’t maintain an intimate relationship with your ex.

This seems obvious to some, but for many this can easily become a pattern. Someone breaks up with you, and you agree to continued intimacy after they’ve rejected you as a partner. This is unfair. It not only keeps you stuck in the dead-end relationship, but may give one of you the idea that the other person does want you back and the relationship will come back to life. The person initiating the intimacy may be thinking that this is just until they find someone else they want to pursue. This is heartbreaking for the person who was convinced it meant something more. Continuing an intimate relationship with your ex also won’t allow for you to make room for other relationships that may be presented to you. You will experience love again, and with someone who wants to commit to you and be in your life, not just for the “fringe benefits”. Don’t settle.

6. Fall in love with your life, again.

Reconnect with your friends, family and favorite hobbies. Do something you’ve avoided doing out of fear. Refocus your energy. You may have given so much of yourself to the relationship that you neglected yourself and your favorite things. Be aware that your self-esteem will be fragile, and you may do a fair bit of crying as you get through this. It’s ok. Make lists of dreams and goals for the coming year, and go out and do them. Volunteer in your community, go on a road trip, hike a mountain, get in touch with nature, write poetry, read a book, sit in silence, take a class, focus on your career, go back to school — the options are endless. Be who and what you’ve always wanted. Write down things you are proud of yourself about, and revisit the list when you feel down. As you start on this journey of self-love and acceptance, you’ll find yourself attracting quality friendships that allow you to be your authentic self.

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7. Reflect on what didn’t work in the relationship.

Once you’ve made it past the grieving and acceptance, you’ll be able to see things more clearly. It may be that when you think about the relationship, you may realize there were red flags or things that didn’t work well for you. Use this to better all your relationships — romantic or otherwise. Maybe you or the other person were passive-aggressive, conflict-avoidant, co-dependent or people-pleasing. Endings can be amazing beginnings.

8. Don’t rush into another relationship.

Some might try to replace the last relationship as soon as possible to avoid feeling loss, loneliness or any pain. Some will keep another person waiting in the wings, as one relationship is ending. Don’t be the other waiting in the wings, and don’t make someone else your rebound. It’s unfair to use others as you try to get over your ex. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to game the system of a broken heart. If it was simply that easy, no one would ever need to read an article about letting go and moving on from a relationship that’s ended. When the time is right, you’ll know it. With the time and space you’ve allowed yourself, you’ll be able to better understand if this new relationship is one that will be healthy and positive.

9. Remove their photographs, gifts and love letters.

Waking up to their photographs and love letters won’t aide you in letting go and moving on. You’ll continue to romanticize them and the relationship, even if it was not a great one. You may want to put the photographs, letters and gifts out of reach in a special keepsake box, under lock and key. If this is too much of a temptation or the person was particularly toxic, you may want to burn the treasures as a symbolic way of releasing all of the negative energy. You can also repurpose the items and turn them into an art piece expressing what’s occurred. Donating or recycling the items are other options.

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10. Remember that there is not always a “one true love” for everyone.

Some people come into our lives for a brief period of time to teach us a lesson or expose us to a new way of thinking. We will keep reliving the same things until the lesson has been learned. While you may have loved someone, and continue to do so, they will likely not be the only person you will ever love. If it is supposed to happen, it will. You don’t need to beg someone to love you or care for you, in the way you do for them. Open up yourself to the possibility that this ending is the beginning of something far better than you’ve ever experienced before.

Featured photo credit: PictoQuotes / Trudy Bloem via photopin.com

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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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