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11 Things To Remember With Sudden Life Changes

11 Things To Remember With Sudden Life Changes

I’m sure you’ve heard this statement before: No one likes change. Alright, that statement may not be 100% true for everyone (some people love change). But when life changes suddenly — and in a negative way — it’s a difficult for most people. So if and when you find yourself in the midst of a sudden life change, remember these 11 things:

1. The only thing that is constant about life is change.

You can’t escape it. No one can. Life happens. People die every day, and their loved ones are left to mourn the loss and go on with life. People get fired every day. They have to learn to deal with their sudden financial losses and find a way to regain their security. Break-ups and divorces happen all the time too. But wallowing in your misery about it won’t help. At some point, we all just need to remember that change is inevitable. But how we deal with change is optional. So make it positive.

2. You’re not alone — everyone goes through changes.

I’m sure it feels like you are alone, but you’re not. There are probably thousands or millions of people out there going through a similar experience right at this moment. Even if you had the most horrific things happen to you, like being diagnosed with a terminal illness or having a loved one pass away suddenly, there are people who have been though it and survived. If you keep that at the forefront of your mind, it might give you some peace.

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3. Feeling confused or upset is normal.

When life changes suddenly, you probably want to scream, shout, curse and plead with God. All you want is for life to go back to “normal.” You want your “old life” back. You would probably do anything to have that. But remember, these feelings are part of the grieving process. To NOT feel any of these emotions would not be normal. And to repress the feelings is not healthy. It can do physical damage to your body and mind.

4. The haze you are in now will eventually lift.

Like I said, you might be thinking that life will never be normal again. Well, it will never be the “old normal,” but you will learn to create a “new normal.” One of my grandfather’s favorite sayings was, “You can get used to anything — even hanging if you hang long enough.” While that might be a crude yet humorous quotation, it makes a point. Humans are enduring. We’re built for survival, so the haze will eventually go away. Maybe not as soon as you want it to, but it will eventually disappear.

5. Do some self-reflection and look at the change as a life lesson.

If you are religious or spiritual, you can look at life through a lens of a spiritual lesson. Even if you’re not, you can still use negative experiences to figure yourself out learn to grow as a person. I think absolutely everything that happens to us can be seen as a learning opportunity. But you have to train your mind to think along those lines first.

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6. Focus on and appreciate what you do have left.

When my dad passed away, it was awful. Anyone who has lost a loved one knows how horrible it is. You feel like your world is crumbling down around you. However, as sad as it was to lose him, I was comforted by knowing that my mom and stepmom were still alive. And my sisters. And friends. And other family members. Focusing on who or what you do have left brings a little bit more peace to you during those difficult times.

7. You need to make the choice to keep going.

You might want to just never get out of bed again. You might think your life is over. But guess what? It isn’t. Life goes on. The world keeps turning. And if you “check out” of life, everyone else just keeps moving on. So you need to make the conscious choice to get out of bed, put one foot in front of the other, and keep walking through life. Don’t give up. It’s a choice. It’s not an easy one, but it’s still your choice.

8. Ask for help.

Hopefully you have a network of family and friends who can help you. I know a lot of people who like to be strong and don’t like to ask for help. But being strong doesn’t mean that you don’t ask for help. Being strong means that you DO ask for help. If you don’t, it just makes you feel more isolated. Most people like to help others. So give them the opportunity to spread their love and kindness to you. Open your heart and your mind and let people in.

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9. Just because things are bad now, doesn’t mean you can’t be happy again.

The best thing someone said to me after my dad’s funeral was, “You never get over it. You just get used to it.” I had never thought of it like that before. But it’s true. We never get over the loss of a loved one. But if your sudden life change is something like the loss of a job, divorce or a health problem, you will find a way to “get used to it” too. Sometimes you have no choice. So the only choice you really have is to choose how you are going to respond to what happens to you.

10. Eventually, things will become clear to you.

Someday, you will look back and know why it all happened. Here’s an example from my life: I was fired, once. There — I said it. Okay, I wasn’t really fired because I did anything wrong, I just got let go. And at the time, I was confused. I didn’t know what to do next. But if that hadn’t happened, I would not have ended up in the career I am in now, which I love. I am a big believer in “everything happens for a reason.” Even if it’s a negative life change, there might be a reason why it happened. Again, it could be another life lesson.

11. You need to mentally prepare for the next life change.

Hopefully your next life change won’t be sudden or tragic. It could simply be graduating from college, having your children move out of your home, or retirement. All of those changes are predictable and you can prepare for them years in advance. But the sudden life changes are different. Not that sudden life changes are as common, but if you mentally accept the fact that they can happen at any time, then you will definitely appreciate what you have right now.

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Change doesn’t have to be bad. It can lead to something greater than where you are now. Even horrible changes can eventually be turned into something positive. So if you’re going through a sudden life change, remember these 11 things and hopefully you will get through it with ease and grace.

More by this author

Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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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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