Stephanie Livingston–Psychologist

Archive for May, 2015

Body Language–what is your body really saying

by on May.26, 2015, under Articles


Did you know that you communicate more with how you say things rather than what you say. Some researchers have revealed that approximately 55% of what we say is communicated non-verbally, 38% by tone of voice and only 7% is what we actually speak. Our body language is important in most aspects of life, including business, education, health, as well as sports and entertainment. Whenever you are trying convey a message, impress, influence, intimidate, control, or perform, your body language plays a huge role. How attentive would you be if you were in a lecture with a speaker who had a monotone voice and did not make eye contact with the audience? You might just fall asleep. Or if you wanted to show interest in a man with whom you are conversing, but your arms are crossed around your chest, you keep looking round the room and are facing away from the guy you hope to catch. What message are you really sending? What about the athlete who made a blunder on the field and walks around with his head down and pouting? This is not a message of confidence but defeat. Or you are a student sitting in class slumped in your chair while looking out the window? What impression do you think your teacher has of you? These are all situations where body language may be sabotaging your efforts. Our outward appearance affects how the outside world perceive us. However, these same behaviors can also influence our inside world.
You might be surprised to learn that putting a smile on your face when you are down, can actually make you feel happier. Or striking a confident pose, can make you feel more in charge. Researchers have actually studied the impact of body language on our emotions. One cosmetic surgeon noticed that his female patients who were depressed before getting Botox injections to remove frown lines, were less depressed after the injections. To test his observations, researchers studied the effects of Botox injections on two groups of women seeking treatment: those who wanted Botox for minimizing frown lines around the mouth and those seeking treatment for crow’s feet around the eyes. As expected, women who received Botox injections for frown lines were less depressed after treatment than women who received Botox for crow’s feet. These findings suggest that changing our outward appearance can alter our internal state.
It is not clear what the mechanism is that results in an internal emotional change from an outward physical change. One might speculate that the change happens because other’s perceive and react to us differently when our outward presentation is more pleasing. You in turn may feel better how they treat you. More importantly, it is likely that your mind and emotions subconsciously tend to want to align with your body. Your body is telling you how to feel. Studies show that when people are forced into a smile by holding a pencil between their teeth lengthwise report feeling happier than those who put the pencil in their mouths with their lips around the eraser, creating a frown.
once treated a woman who realized how her body language was affecting her dating life after an incident riding the bus. Carly happened to be sitting on the bus with an empty seat next to her. There was also an empty seat next to a woman across the aisle. A nice looking gentleman got on the bus and headed in both women’s direction. She noticed that the woman across the aisle made eye contact with the man and smiled. Carly on the other hand, had her arms crossed and looking away from him. Not surprisingly, he sat down next to Suzy Sunshine instead of Debbie Downer. Men, when given the opportunity, will take the path of least resistance. They don’t want to work too hard to get the girl. Carly immediately felt rejected, but looked in the overhead bus mirror and noticed her body language. It was then that she became aware of part that part of her difficulty in meeting men was by creating physical barriers. From that day forward she began to have more positive body language and she noticed she started to feel better on the inside, even if she didn’t get a smile from Prince Charming. So the next time you are feeling down, lacking confidence, or succumbing to anxiety pretend you are the person you want to be. Stand up straight, put that smile on your face and fake it til you make it! It will help you jump start the new you!

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