Advertising
Advertising

Suffering from a break-up? Six ways to turn your pain into gold.

Suffering from a break-up? Six ways to turn your pain into gold.

Break-ups can be painful. That’s why there are so darn many songs written about them.

Are you going through one right now? I bet you are feeling one (or more) of these feelings:

  • Angry at your ex- for letting you down.
  • Guilty for hurting your ex-.
  • Worried that you are making a mistake.
  • Sad that you failed.
  • Jealous that your ex- might be with someone else
  • Afraid that you will never find love that lasts.
  • Disgusted that you ever wasted your time on their sorry self.

When I left my ex-fiance, I felt most of these at various stages. Maybe one week would be a worried week, the next a sad week. Which one are you feeling right now?

With all of these negative feelings swirling around, it’s tempting to rue the day that you ever got into the relationship in the first place.

Advertising

But that would be a mistake. Because the truth is that each relationship is a key part of you “growing up” to become an adult in the world of love. They’re like classes toward your master’s degree in love, and then one day, when you have mastered the material, you get to graduate and have “the one.” Just like school, some classes are more fun than others, and no one likes finals. But the end result is worth it.

So save yourself some break-up angst and get busy figuring out what exactly is being taught in the curriculum of this ex-relationship. Here are some possibilities.

1. You sand down your rough edges.

Let’s face it, each one of us has aspects of our personalities that make us difficult to date. For me, I can be hyper-critical of my partner when he doesn’t do things my way. And, in case you were wondering, nit-picking does NOT lend itself well to a happy relationship. My criticalness contributed to several failed relationships until I finally learned how to get it in check and instead accept my partner as an equal. While learning this lesson certainly took a lot of time and heartache, it was well worth it to have my current relationship as great as it is.

What part of you needs to be tamed in order for you to be a good partner?

Advertising

2. You learn how to “do” relationships right.

After a few beers at a scientific conference, a professor in my Ph.D. program once told me that I should only date men who had been married once before. The first marriage, he claimed, was to figure out how to “do” marriage, so that you could get ready for your “real” marriage to your second spouse. While I disagree with much of his philosophy, I do agree that relationships take practice. Like making pancakes for the first time, you are likely to botch a few attempts before you figure out how it’s done. A failed relationship is the best way to learn what doesn’t work, and how to build a better one the next time around.

3. You learn what you are looking for.

Think back on the first person you had a crush on. Do you think you would have a crush on that person if you met them today? The answer is likely “no” and that is a very good thing. With each failed relationship, you learn something about who you are and what is important to you in a partner.

What did you learn from your last relationship?

4. You figure out your failure rituals.

As much as we may hate it, being alive means failing at a bunch of things. You wanted the cool kid to ask you to prom and he didn’t. You applied for a great job and didn’t get it. You wanted to fit into your size 4 jeans by memorial day and didn’t make it. There is a skill to picking yourself up from these failures and trying again. I recommend designing a “failure ritual” that is your go-to whenever you fail at something. It can involve things like listening to your favorite mourning songs, calling a trusted friend, writing a eulogy for the “death” of whatever you failed at, or taking a period of “down time” to fully process what happened.

Advertising

What will you design your failure ritual to be?

5. You learn how to tell the difference between fact and fantasy.

My friend recently suffered from a break-up in which she put her man on a pedestal. She found him to be so well-educated, successful, interesting and funny, that she reasoned he really was the perfect man. She chose to ignore the things he did that were less-than-stellar, like refusing to meet her family and never really giving her his full attention. But after the break-up, she could see him for what he really was: a decent man who was simply not that into her. Use break-ups as a wake-up call to help you learn where you tend to dupe yourself so that you can enter the next relationship fully aware.

Where do you tend to live in fantasy land?

6. You see that life can be impermanent, and that is OK.

Maybe you thought that this relationship was forever, and it turned out that it wasn’t. That’s OK. That’s life. Deaths and break-ups are good reminders to cherish the people you have in your life right now, because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Advertising

Who are you taking for granted right now in your life?

Break-ups can be painful, but if you compare the pain to all that you can gain from them, you will see that they are worth it. As soon as you feel comfortable, start to do an autopsy on the relationship. What were you supposed to learn from that relationship? What gems make it all worth it?

Write a note and share!

Love,

Samantha

Featured photo credit: Un-married/Paul Moody via flickr.com

More by this author

8 Signs You’re Not Following Your Heart When You’re Living 7 Major Reasons You Procrastinate And How To Deal With Them Design A Future You Love: 11 Ways That Brilliant Leaders Think Of The Future Differently 15 Things Highly Successful People Do At The Beginning Of The Day That You Should, Too Suffering from a break-up? Six ways to turn your pain into gold.

Trending in Communication

1 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 2 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake 3 7 Science-Backed Books About Spirituality That Will Change Your Life 4 20 Things Life Is Too Short to Worry About 5 How to Find Inner Peace and Lasting Happiness

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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

Read Next