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Stop the Madness: Four Keys to help you Forgive

Stop the Madness: Four Keys to help you Forgive

Anger. Fear. Hostility. Bitterness. Rage. Resentment. Have you ever felt any of these emotions toward someone; maybe even someone you love? These angry feelings are called “hot” emotions, and they fuel an unforgiving spirit.

When we’re hurt, our angry our feelings don’t go away overnight. In fact, we can spend days, weeks, months, even years turning them over and over in our minds, feeling just as angry as the moment the offense that caused them occurred.

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Who the heck wants to live like this? It only causes stress, high blood pressure and a whole host of other problems. If you’ve ever been boiling mad at someone and still feel the fire at the mention of his or her name, you may want to consider the “F” word—forgiveness.

Sounds great, but how do we go about forgiving someone who has mortally wounded us? Well, for starters we don’t bury it, we don’t ignore it, thinking in time that it will go away, and we certainly shouldn’t minimize our pain or pretend it didn’t hurt us.

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Before we look at how to forgive, let’s talk about what forgiveness is and isn’t. Forgiveness is a means of release for the person holding the debt; that would be you. Forgiveness is for your benefit, but it isn’t saying that what the other person did was ok.

What can we do to stop the madness of ruminating angry thoughts and walk the healing path? Here are some tips to help move you along on the forgiveness journey:

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Make a list

The first step in forgiveness is to take an account of the offense. Take a piece of paper and make three columns. Write the offenders name at the top of the page. In the first column, write down the event that happened that made you angry. In the second, write down how you felt about it and what you came to believe about yourself as a result of the other person’s offense. In the last column, write down what you had hoped for or expected from that person. This will translate into your loss. Here’s an example: Event: your husband was unfaithful. Feelings: anger, hurt, rejection. Beliefs: I’m not good enough. I’m unlovable. Loss: betrayal, identity, self-esteem, hope. Then decide if you can allow God to meet the needs you lost through this transgression. Can you trust him as your security, adequacy and value? Pray a prayer of forgiveness releasing the person from the debt owed you.

Stop ruminating

Pay attention to what you’re telling yourself. Rumination creates more anxiety and depression and there is no life there. Turning things over and over in your mind only keeps you stuck. Choose to intentionally focus on the Scriptural truths about forgiveness.

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Take a risk

Just because you don’t feel like forgiving doesn’t mean you can’t do it. The truth is you will never feel like it. The question is what is the best response you can make to address the hurts and losses you will incur in life? The answer is to give the altruistic gift of forgiveness. Risking forgiving someone who has hurt you can remove a huge weight off your shoulders and probably add a few years to your life too.Medical studies have found that people who have forgiven others for a major transgression have lower blood pressure and heart rates when compared to those who have not.

Restoration is different than reconciliation

Reconciliation takes two people, you and the person who offended you. When the offender comes to you, the offended, you have to decide if you will grant forgiveness. That doesn’t necessarily mean you want to be restored in relationship with this person. Restoration means you and the other person mutually decide what the nature of the relationship will be as you move forward. Boundaries may need to be drawn or the relationship may need to be terminated.

Angry feelings won’t go away overnight. Forgiveness starts with a decision of the will but is born out in the emotions. Once you’ve decided to forgive the offender, focus on the virtues of love, empathy and compassion as a means to develop emotional forgiveness. Allow yourself time and space, but remember forgiveness is for your benefit. Start today and give the altruistic gift of forgiveness.
Back at you: Have you ever forgiven someone? If so, what were the long-term benefits? If not, what’s hindering you?

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Rita Schulte LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

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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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