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7 Lessons I Have Learned from Divorced People

7 Lessons I Have Learned from Divorced People

Let me begin by stating that divorce is not a good thing! It is a traumatic experience for everyone involved; it tears families apart, adversely impacts the lives of children, harms people’s self-esteem, confidence and finances and satisfies no one but the divorce lawyers.

Every effort should always be made to try and save a marriage, and I also truly believe that all marriages – except those involving abuse and repeated infidelity – can be saved, should be saved and are capable of becoming marriages that fulfill each partners’ dreams and wishes. However, this requires the will of both parties and sometimes that will is missing. Which brings me to the 7 lessons I have learned through working with people to help them overcome the pain of their marriages ending. These are especially important lessons over the Holidays when many people often feel the impact of divorce the most.

1. No good marriage ends in divorce

The fact is that despite how much you may have wanted a perfect relationship and fairy tale marriage, it didn’t happen. There may be numerous unforeseen situations that caused the demise of your marriage: job loss, family illnesses or death, personal health issues or whatever, but the sad truth is the marriage just didn’t survive. That means that one, or both of you, were not sufficiently committed to making it work. If it was your ex-spouse who ended the marriage, then this means he or she was not right for you. As upsetting as it is, if you would have done more to make your marriage work but your ex-spouse did not, this means they weren’t right for you because their values did not match yours. One day you will meet someone whose values do

2. You lose yourself to find yourself

Divorce hurts. It hurts like a death. The mourning process can be long and no one should tell you how long you should mourn for. You completely lose yourself after your divorce. You lose your sense of knowing, your self-esteem, your sense of safety, you lose your confidence, maybe even your friends or your home. You totally lose yourself, but eventually you find yourself.

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Eventually, you realize you actually lost yourself in your marriage, not your divorce. You realize that in your marriage you lost who YOU were. You realize you lost your own identity. Divorce allows you to find You again, the individual you were before, and it is a wonderful feeling to be “you” again.

3. You have control over your time

Although initially the loneliness is isolating, eventually it becomes exhilarating. If you have children, maybe you now have every other week to yourself. Even if you have primary custody, you may still find you have the occasional weekend or Holiday to yourself that you have not had in years. You may rediscover the joy of sleeping until noon, or hobbies and pastimes you’d not been able to experience in awhile. You may even find new hobbies you never knew you would enjoy!

The world really now is your oyster, so why not take that salsa class you’d always wanted to, or the painting workshop, or take up rock climbing, or zip lining, or go on that vacation you always dreamed about, or jump out of a plane!  Whatever you want to do, you now have time to do it, so take advantage of this new found free time and enjoy yourself in a way you haven’t been able to in years!

4. Your appearance improves

Admit it, we all kind of fall asleep in marriage when it comes to our appearance.  We all get a little lazy, a little out of shape. Maybe we don’t look after ourselves quite like we did before we were married. During the marriage that felt like one of the plus points, but now that you are divorced there is every need to.

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How many people have you seen who within a year or so after their divorce looked better than they had in years! Now, I don’t say these things for superficial reasons. I am not saying that physical appearance and looking good are the most important things in the world, but what I am saying is that looking good makes you feel good. After divorce your appearance will improve, and you will feel better and more confident for it. People will begin noticing you again, you will begin noticing yourself again, and if you also begin eating better and exercising more, your health will improve also – which is a priceless gift!

5. Everything can be a lesson, even when pain is the teacher

As I wrote above, divorce hurts, but everything that happens to us in Life is a lesson, even when pain is the teacher. Maybe you were too trusting or too focused on your career. Maybe you neglected your own happiness for his or your children’s. Maybe you did nothing wrong at all and this unfortunately just happened.

Whatever the reasons for the divorce, there are still valuable life lessons to be learned. Yes, those lessons can be very painful, but it may just be the very lesson your soul needs. You also learn that just because it’s not the Life you planned, it doesn’t mean it is the wrong Life for you. It may not be what you wanted, but it’s what you have and that can be very liberating because you realize that life doesn’t always go the way you want it to and that’s OK. It’s OK if you don’t get the job you really wanted. Its OK if you don’t get the promotion you expected.That is just part of Life. You don’t always get what you want, but you still – always – have to try and make the most of it, and that can be very freeing and empowering to learn.

6. You value the Present

Divorce rips your world apart. It undermines your very being and robs you of a security that you hoped you would always have. But, of course, that security was an illusion. It never existed. You simply thought it did. Divorce teaches you to enjoy and value the present. When you are with your children, value that time. When you are not with your children, value that time too. When you are out with friends, value that time. When you are sat alone at home watching a TV show alone, value that time.

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Divorce teaches you that you can spend your entire time thinking about the past, and what could have been, or what you or he/she could have or should have done differently, but ultimately you realize that those thoughts are worthless.You realize that as much as you may wish to change the past, you can’t, and that all you have is the present. So begin to try and enjoy that present.

You also learn that anger towards your ex, doesn’t harm your ex, it only harms you. Like Ghandi said, ‘anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to become ill.” Anger only harms you, so eventually you must and will learn to manage your thoughts and live in the present in a way that you never did before the divorce.

7. You become stronger and it makes you who you are

I do not know where you are on your divorce journey. Maybe you are recently divorced; maybe you’re going through the process right now, maybe it was a year ago, or maybe ten years ago. But I do now that eventually you will get through it. Eventually the feeling of betrayal and disappointment will subside. One day you will no longer feel the anger or loss you felt. You may always question why and you may never truly forgive, but one day you will get through it and find Happiness again. It will happen and when it does, you will be stronger for it.

I believe that divorce is a ‘disrupter’ designed to make us question whether we are on the right path. Divorce is a very personal journey, a journey that can only be defined and understood by you. But it is a journey, and a journey that is hard. But it is does come with some expected benefits. Dare I even say Blessings. In life, it is always important to count your blessings and not your problems. Everything happens to us for a reason. Detach from it all and surrender to what is. Everything that happened is simply making room for a new and better experience to come into your Life. The “reason” may not become known for many weeks, months or even several years, but one day, it will all make sense and you may even be grateful that your divorce happened.

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Note: Divorce is a life changing and traumatic situation and one that should only be undertaken once ALL avenues to having a successful marriage have been fully exhausted. I believe all marriages, except those involving abuse or repeated infidelity, can be fixed and would encourage anyone thinking about divorce to reach out to a qualified professional to help save their marriage.

Featured photo credit: Woman alone on the bridge against cloudy sky via shutterstock.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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