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15 Valuable Lessons That The Pain Of Heartbreak Will Teach You

15 Valuable Lessons That The Pain Of Heartbreak Will Teach You

Finding the silver lining. Turning lemons into lemonade. The rainbow after the storm.

You know them – all the sayings people tell us that are supposed to make us feel better when we face tough times. But here’s the thing, finding a silver lining is darn near impossible when we are so stuck in our emotions and negativity that we can’t see it. The key to getting through pain is to clear away the cobwebs so we can see the potential for future joy in the first place.

When I was widowed unexpectedly at age 31 with a new baby and a stressful corporate job during a crashing economy, I was in the deepest, darkest pit of pity, sadness and anger you can imagine. I was functional and taking care of my daughter, but the foggy thinking prevented me from seeing any sort of potential happiness. It was only when I was able to step outside of myself to see the implications of my mindset, behaviors and attitude on others, my career and my health that I started to see tiny glimmers of hope again.

Only by going through your pain mindfully can you possibly learn any lessons. If you wallow, feel sorry for yourself, complain and victimize yourself, it only perpetuates and prolongs pain. Here are 15 lessons you can learn throughout your journey to help you not only get through pain faster, but minimize future pain when stressful situations happen again.

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1. You will find your true friends.

It’s inevitable that some people will not be there when you need them most. It’s also inevitable that those who belong in your life will be there for you to hold your hand and stand by you as you work through your pain. Know that those who don’t hang around aren’t meant to be in your life. Those who do should be cherished for helping you through your difficult time. Be there for them too.

2. Your body will tell you what it needs.

The power of stress on our health is that the earliest signals that we are going through something painful show up as physical symptoms. Moodiness, headaches, stomach aches, weight issues, insomnia – all of these are the first indicators that we need some physical self-care while we figure out how to heal emotionally. Listen to the signals and take care of yourself by eating right, exercising and finding ways to laugh even when you don’t want to crack a smile.

3. Your goals will become clear.

There’s nothing like life-shattering pain to help you get focused on what is really important to you. Is it really about getting a bigger paycheck or is finding a fulfilling career more important? Is dating another person of the same type the right step or would it be better to be alone for awhile to know yourself first so you make better partner decisions? Big setbacks can lead to huge leaps forward when you look at how the situation could be different so be open-minded and open-hearted during painful times.

4. Your money will have more meaning.

If you’ve experienced financial loss, bankruptcy, job loss or massive debt, you know the toll it can take on your happiness, security and relationships. The best steps during financial pain are to be aware of your money habits and set up a new budgeting plan so you feel more in control. That will immediately lead to more meaningful and clear decisions about what you want your financial future to be like that isn’t filled with lack, debt or worry.

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5. You will know what you value in relationships.

When divorce, death of a partner or a break-up happen, not only do you lose the person, but you lose all of the dreams and plans you shared for your future. This forces you to re-evaluate what was missing in your past relationship so you can choose more wisely in your next one.

6. Your kids will learn from you.

When tough times strike and you have kids, they will watch how you handle YOUR pain and stress to know how to deal with their own pain and stress. Be mindful of how you self-soothe yourself during pain including alcohol and drugs, poor health habits, ways you speak to others and the energy you bring to a situation. If you over-drink, bad mouth and complain when you go through pain, that is how your kids will deal with their own pain when they grow up. Be aware and make the right choices to impact your kids positively.

7. You will become more independent.

No one knows exactly what it’s like to walk in your shoes. When you are hurting, people understand your journey even less. It’s up to you to dig deep to find the strength to get through each day even when you feel like curling into a ball in a dark room all day. Only you have the power to make choices for your life. This power can help boost your self-confidence and your independence when you see yourself moving through pain to a happier future.

8. You will discover that music helps you heal.

There’s nothing like a good sad song when you’re wallowing in pain, but you can also choose inspiring music to encourage you during bad days. It feels good to get a  good cry out every once in awhile and those monster ballads can help make it happen. But more important are the energizing and reflective songs that make you feel good, empowered and strong.

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9. You will finally embrace that mistakes are okay.

We are all only human. We WILL mess up – often and in big ways. Here’s the good thing about this – we’re all messing up together. You aren’t alone. And mistakes are just one more way to rule out a way not to do things to get you closer to the right choices for your life. Instead of crashing and burning when things go bad, accept the failure and bounce back with gusto.

10. You will become more resilient to big and small changes.

The more pain you deal with and get through with positivity, the better you will be at getting through future change and stress. Resilience is a much studied characteristic that seems to be bolstered by a positive attitude, having gone through pain in the past and how you’ve learned from that pain. Know that even if you feel awful now, it is serving you with strength for the future.

11. Your reactions to stress will be more positive.

When we experience bad stuff in life, we can either let it paralyze us into stress, anxiety and worry, or we can use the pain to propel us ahead. It’s up to you to decide how you will respond to stress. Painful situations have the weird tendency to help us get through stress more positively IF we let the lessons show up and follow through on them.

12. You will understand unconditional love.

When we are stressed, we aren’t usually at our best. We are cranky, easily agitated, tired, sick more often and don’t look great either. Those who stand by us even when we are at our worst love us unconditionally. That type of love can be our anchor when painful times happen and help us to love others unconditionally back.

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13. Your pets can be the best medicine.

There is nothing like cuddling up to a furry friend when you need to escape pain. Animals can’t talk back. They don’t expect anything from us except food, potty breaks and cuddles. They are truly the best example of the unconditional love mentioned in point #12. Plus research has shown that pet owners are happier and less stressed because animals boost endorphins which are feel-good chemicals that boost our moods.

14. Travel can open your eyes to new perspectives.

Getting out of your normal routine and heading to a new locale can be extremely therapeutic when you are suffering a painful situation. Seeing other people in new environments engages your brain and body in something fresh and exciting instead of wallowing in the sameness of the pain you are feeling. Get out and explore even if it’s just a new neighborhood nearby.

15. You will appreciate the good times more.

The old saying goes that without a little sadness you don’t appreciate the happy times. If life were just one steady experience of sameness, we truly would not know when a good time is really good. The down times give us a grounding into our human existence while the good times remind us that life is amazing.

There are so many lessons we can learn from pain. The most important one is that we need to acknowledge that there are lessons to be learned in the first place so we can look for them. Every day we go through the stress of heartbreak, loss, change or setbacks is one more day closer to the other side of pain.

SHARE WITH ME: How do you find the lessons in painful situations? What do you do when you’re feeling stressed to help counteract the pain?

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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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