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Why The Key To Finding True Love Is Self-Love

Why The Key To Finding True Love Is Self-Love

I remember the day vividly. It was another weekend; another Sunday feeling lonely, miserable and unwanted. As I cried in my bedroom, unable to shake off that voice inside of me saying “Leave him, you don’t need this anymore,” I knew that it had to happen today. Finally, I’d hit my lowest point and was ready to tell him that I wanted to be on my own again.

It wasn’t easy, but then it never is when you still love someone — or you think you do. Yet I still had a strong emotional pull to end it, no matter how many tears fell down my cheek.

What saddens me more is that I’d gotten us to this point. I’d pushed, cajoled and manipulated him into it all of this from the beginning, and here I was ending it. For what seemed like forever, I’d wanted him to love me, to “complete” me and make me feel that I was worth something. And now I was turning my back on him, to it all, finally being honest with myself.

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I’d made my life his life, I no longer knew who I was, or what I wanted to do with my life. I’d lost a part of me.

He tried his best, the best that he knew how, and I’ll always love him for that. But it was never going to be good enough – not until I knew how to love myself first.

You see, I’d based my need for love and acceptance on what he thought of me. His opinion and view of who I was seemed to be the only thing that mattered. If he thought I was smart, intelligent, sexy and kind, then that’s who I became. I was what I thought he wanted me to be, and that was someone who wasn’t me.

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Then, when that day finally came, it wasn’t a bolt-out-of-the-blue decision. To be honest, it had been gnawing away at me for months, but I’d tried to numb it and pretend it didn’t exist.

Once I’d told him, I felt a deep sense of release, like a bird finally being set free from its cage. I could now start on my own journey of self-love and self-discovery.

Now I could:

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  • Be who I wanted to be with no need for acceptance from anyone
  • Finally follow my own dreams with no ties or complaints from someone else
  • Learn to give as much love, attention and care to myself before loving someone else again
  • Understand that having a sense of my own self-worth and self-reliance was important for my own well-being

It was finally my time, and I wasn’t going to go back to my old habits, relying on someone else to make me feel important, loved and special. I could do it all by myself, and I was ready to wake up and live with purpose at long last!

What is self-love anyway?

  • Not being afraid to live the life you’ve always dreamed of, and going with it wholeheartedly
  • Being good to yourself, being kind and compassionate — especially during difficult times
  • Eating well, drinking plenty of water and looking after that wonderful body of yours
  • Having the courage to stand up for what you believe, in no matter what
  • Being passionate about what makes you come alive, and sharing it with others
  • Knowing and understanding who you really are
  • Not being afraid to be vulnerable; keeping your heart open
  • Choosing to be happy; looking for the good in every situation, and learning from the bad stuff that happens
  • Being grateful for everything that you already have your life, and forgiving yourself for past mistakes

Want a great relationship? Learn how to love yourself first

When you love yourself fully, you become more in tune with your real feelings, and trust your intuition and decisions with little doubt or worry. Loving yourself will not only create a better space to be more vulnerable, open and authentic, it will mean that those who love you will become a reflection on how you love yourself.

Self-love will widen the door to your heart, and you’ll act out of kindness, compassion and joy.  You’ll focus less on what’s going badly in your life and more on what’s good, which brings with it a sense of gratitude.

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It’ll also open your eyes to new possibilities in life; you’ll see things that you’ve never seen before, and look for the good in people rather than the bad. With that, you’ll attract people who are generous with their love, and partake in experiences that you could only have dreamed of previously.

You’ll feel passionate, inspired and uplifted, and the best bit is it came all from within you!

Finding true love will be easier and more natural

That’s not saying there will be no challenging times, fears or worries, but you’ll be able to handle things better with more clarity and consciousness.  True love will come in its own time, and because of your own self-love you’ll be less needy or desperate for it to happen, it’ll just happen.

So are you ready to love yourself first?

Featured photo credit: DonnaGrayson via flickr.com

More by this author

Paula Lawes

Paula loves people and connecting. She writes about communication and relationships tips on Lifehack.

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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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