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5 Toxic Beliefs That Can End Any Relationship

5 Toxic Beliefs That Can End Any Relationship

Want to maximize the chances that your relationship will last? If you do, take an inventory of your relationship belief system. If you have a habit of carrying negative thought patterns into your romance, you could be sabotaging your prospects at everlasting love.

Here are the top five toxic beliefs that can end any relationship:

1. Believing your happiness is the responsibility of the of the other person.

When your partner does something hurtful, it is natural to want to blame them for your feelings of shock, anger and disappointment. Expressing and working through these emotions is the one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and your relationship. However, if days, months, and years go on with you continuing to be miserable because you just can’t “let go” of what the other person did, your relationship is at serious risk.

While someone may have acted unkindly, disrespectfully or even abusively, ultimately, there is only one person responsible for your happiness. That person is you. There is power in taking responsibility for your own life’s happiness.

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Don’t give that power away to someone else, even your lover!

2. Believing your relationship should always be struggle and drama-free.

As a human, you are here to learn and grow so you can become fulfilled in your life. Growth, however, just isn’t possible without the occasional struggle. Your partner is one of the best people to help you work through your personal and relationship limits to realize the fullness of who you really are.

Why? Because that person loves you!

When things feel hopeless because of the relationship conflict you are experiencing, before you throw in the towel, consider these possibilities: (a) YOU could be wrong; (b) if you are right, the principle of the matter isn’t worth hanging onto for the sake of peace; (c) your partner’s behavior is a reflection of the way in which you have been treating them; and (d) just like you, your partner wants validation, security and love.

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By reframing your relationship growing pains, you will see conflict as the gift that it truly is.

3. Believing that once your trust has been broken, all hope is lost for your relationship.

At some point in your relationship, your partner will break their word to you. Whether you want to admit it or not, you will break your word to your partner, as well. These things do not make either of you “bad” people. They do not make you poor relationship material.

They simply make you human.

You will undoubtedly feel devastated when your life’s partner has broken your trust. While you should allow yourself to experience the range of emotions that you will, if you love the other person and want to save the relationship, you will do one thing for certain: have a conversation to try to comprehend what lead your partner to do what they did.

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There will be some situations where your partner doesn’t understand their own actions. In most cases, however, with honest communication, it is possible to comprehend the reasons “why” (although you may not agree with the behavior itself). Once you grasp the cause for your partner’s conduct, ask yourself how or whether you contributed to those actions.

If your own behavior was a contributing factor, consider whether the relationship is important enough to you (and it would be healthy for you) to consider changing your behavior…for the sake of love.

4. Believing that keeping secrets from your partner is lying or breaking their trust.

Do you hate being around your in-laws? If so, in the name of relationship integrity, do you need to share that fact with your partner every time you think about it? Absolutely not!

Sometimes saving your relationship actually depends on you not telling your lover about every thought that crosses your mind; not having a filter could subject your partner to thoughts which are fleeting and insignificant. However, in many cases, when constantly spoken, these unimportant thoughts permanently poison the soil from which contentment and trust bloom.

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When you are inclined to share something that could be hurtful to your partner, ask yourself whether the disclosure is necessary to preserve the continued well-being of the relationship. If it isn’t, consider keeping the secret to yourself.

5. Believing that work, children and friends are all more important than time spent on your relationship.

Once the hormone-infused “honeymoon” is over, for individuals in a relationship, they get back to the business of life. For you, that could mean immersing yourself in your work, your children, your hobbies and your friends. It is all too easy to allow your partner to sink to the lowest priority in trying to juggle these competing interests. The sustained lack of focus on a relationship causes many people to wake up one day (after the kids are gone, for example) and realize they are in a committed relationship with a stranger.

Don’t let this happen to you. Just like you do with your job supervisor, schedule a regular time to sit and explore how each of you are feeling, whether your respective needs are being met, and what can be done to improve the areas in which a need isn’t being met. Aside from this regular relationship evaluation, spend time with your partner, away from everyone else, enjoying their company, learning new things and creating a vision for your shared future.

With regular and consistent communication, you and your partner will give each other the chance to discover and end these toxic beliefs that could threaten to end any relationship – even yours.

Featured photo credit: Bigstock via bigstockphoto.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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