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5 Things We Believe That Are Damaging Our Relationships

5 Things We Believe That Are Damaging Our Relationships

Often, our perception of what is going on in a relationship and what is actually happening are two different things. We have learned many myths concerning relationships through movies and Hollywood, but what about the reality of our everyday relationships and what they should look like? We need to recognize the relationship myths we believe and understand why they are not true in order to view our relationships through the correct lens.

1. I’m with the wrong partner if I doubt the relationship.

Often when a person doubts their partner, they automatically think that this means they are with the wrong person. This simply is not true, and is one of many myths we believe indicate that a relationship is in trouble. I would argue that in a healthy relationship, one should and will experience doubt from time to time. The only way a relationship can grow is if we challenge the person we are in relationship with, and this often comes via doubt or questioning one another (with a degree of tact). Through this process we gain ever increasing knowledge about one another, which can only strengthen the bond with your partner. Also, if by chance your doubts and questions lead you to any conclusions about suspicious or destructive behaviors in your partner, then the doubts served you well. Either way, doubting can be healthy when used appropriately, and can bolster a relationship.

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2. If I don’t have ‘butterflies’ when with my partner it must not be love.

In actuality, when the butterflies wear off but there is still a strong bond with your partner, then it is love. The initial feelings one gets when in a new relationship are feelings of infatuation, and cannot always be trusted. It is only once a relationship stands the test of time, through the storms and the ‘becoming one’ phase, that it can it truly be seen as love. Love isn’t always a feeling, but an understanding and an intimacy with your partner that proves there is a solid bond of communication and trust.

3. If I don’t miss my partner when away then it’s not love.

There is an old adage that says, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” This isn’t always true and it doesn’t mean that you don’t love them if you’re away from your partner and aren’t thinking of them every moment, or feeling that you miss them. Couples who have a strong bond and deep intimacy often do not have to think about or miss one another each time they are apart. This confidence in the relationship, in which each person has a true understanding of one another’s needs, proves that there is no need to miss one another to the degree that it becomes a yearning.

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There always needs to be a balance in this area. For example, there are couples in which one or the other person is insecure to the point that it may appear that they miss their partner while away, when it is really a matter of worry or mistrust. You cannot always trust your feelings, but you can trust the bond and confidence of your relationship in knowing that your partner doesn’t need to worry or think about you every second while you’re apart.

4. I should want to spend every moment with my partner.

In a healthy relationship, time apart and having your own hobbies can be a good thing. Feeling the need to spend every moment with someone can be off balance in regards to developing yourself as an individual. You will be a much happier person, and bring much more to the relationship, if you are a well-rounded person. This will mean having your own outlets that are self-constructive.

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5. Sex should always be great and I should always want it.

It seems that our culture has been sex saturated and misinformed. Sex will be good with your partner as long as the intimacy and communication are healthy. Sex within any relationship is only as good as the bond is strong between two people. To judge sex as either good or bad should be irrelevant. Sometimes it may seem to be less intense than other times, but should not always be a gauge for whether or not the relationship is in trouble. What you should be concerned about is the relationship as a whole. Then the sex that follows will always be good, no matter how long or intense it is. When a couple’s communication and intimacy wane, sex usually fails to be as fulfilling as it once was. This is not always the case, such as with those who have a physical disability and can no longer perform sexually, but in an otherwise healthy relationship, sex is usually healthy as well.

I hope you find these myth busters about relationships and feelings towards your partner enlightening and encouraging. Remember, its not about feeling the warm fuzzies all of the time, but about the journey you have with your partner and how you weather the storms in a healthy relationship.

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Featured photo credit: true love by MGDA via mrg.bz

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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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