4 Body Language Myths That We Need To Stop Believing
Many of us don’t realize just how much we communicate nonverbally. I can usually tell when someone isn’t feeling well even when they say everything is fine. The other day I met up with a friend and before she even spoke I said, “What’s wrong?” She looked at me in surprise and said, “How can you tell? I purposely put on a smile and yet you can still tell I’m upset?”
We all have “tells”: a poker term that is used to describe what our bodies do unconsciously. Professional gamblers are looking to see certain body movements that the other players do. For example, they will pick up on subtle signals that a person does when they are holding a winning or losing hand. They notice if a person holds their breath when they like their cards or a subtle frown when they know the outcome doesn’t look good. That’s why so many gamblers sitting at a gaming table will cover up with a hoodie and sunglasses. They know how hard it is to keep their nonverbal cues in check. Trying to have a poker face is very hard to do with your body.
A one size fits all understanding of body language doesn’t work. We have to consider other elements that come into play when we are meeting people. There can be cultural differences that explains why one person moves into your personal space and another that seems to stand a little farther back. When people are trying to decode what a person is thinking simply by watching how they sit or stand may be interpreting it all wrong.
Here are four body language myths according to Joe Navarro a former FBI Counterintelligence Agent and expert on nonverbal communication and body language:
1. Crossing our arms doesn’t always mean we are on the defensive or needing to block out someone’s ideas. For most people it feels comfortable to cross our arms like a self hug. A person may feel cold, tired or the chair doesn’t have arm rests which causes them to hold their arms. Many women automatically sit with their legs crossed in the name of comfort.
2. Touching our face or covering our mouth is not an indication that we’re trying to cover up a lie. Sometimes it’s just a nervous tick that we are doing unconsciously. We all have ways of of reassuring ourselves when we feel a little anxious.
3. Lack of eye contact is not an indication that someone is not being truthful. Many times a liar may use excessive eye contact just to help make the lie more believable. Sometimes our eyes will move past the person we are talking to when we are trying to recall a memory. We tend to move our eyes from left to right as a way of processing information. Many people who are shy have trouble looking people in the eyes. They are not trying to be deceitful, they are lacking confidence in themselves.
4. Putting our hands in our pockets or behind our backs doesn’t mean we are trying to hide something. It’s again, a way to self soothe. It’s what makes us feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation.
Mr. Joe Navarro explains that we are constantly giving each other nonverbal cues. The most important thing we can do is be aware of how we are coming across. How we are dressed, what our posture is and if we are smiling. Are we taking the time to really listen and care about what the other person is saying to us? All of this helps us to be more empathetic to each other and our own nonverbal cues will be communicated in a positive way.
I know how my friend walks, and talks when she’s in a good mood. It was easy for me to pick up that she wasn’t doing well. She told me what was bothering her and was glad that she didn’t have to hide her true feelings. I’m happy that she felt safe to let me know what was going on in her life.
We all need people to care about us and take the time to recognize our body language as well as listening to what we are saying. We also need to be the person who takes the time to observe and pay attention to the people around us. This is what connects us to each other and helps us build solid relationships.
For more information please read “The Dictionary of Body Language” by Joe Navarro
My mind is going a million miles a second to every worst case scenario that I can dream up. I need to actually be asleep and dreaming but my head has other ideas. I’m in a battle against myself and I’m losing. Staring at the clock and willing myself to sleep is an exercise in futility. The onslaught seems relentless. I’m either replaying past events of my biggest regrets or I’m envisioning a future that is so dismal that my life seems hopeless.
I am sure I’m the only one in the world that does this. Just in case I’m not, I did find ways to battle the beast inside me and win a good night’s sleep. It’s not perfect and negative thoughts still rear their ugly head, but I have a better handle on it.
I read a great book called “What To Say When You Talk To Your Self” by Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D. I highly recommend it if you want to change the bad opinion you have of yourself to a more positive one.
“Self-Talk is a way to override our past negative programming by erasing or replacing it with conscious, positive new directions. Self-Talk is a practical way to live our lives by active intent rather than by passive acceptance.” Shed Helmstetter, Ph.D.
We do have more control over our thoughts when we force ourselves to speak them out loud. It’s like holding a mirror up to our face and realizing our impending doom is not even close to being realistic. We need to get out of our heads and look at what’s really bothering us. I found writing down my concerns and worries helps me to see them in a better light. Am I trying to control things that are out of my control like an earthquake, a hurricane or tight fitting jeans? Ok, maybe the last one can be controlled by eating less cookies, but I’m sure the science is still out on that one.
Many of the things we worry about never come to fruition. I find confiding in a friend about my fears does help in alleviating them. I get a sense of reassurance that comes when someone who cares about me lets me know that everything will work out. We all need that lifeline that connects us to each other. It’s a nice reminder to reach out to our family and friends when we are dealing with insecurities and self-doubt.
One of the ways I’ve found to help me stop the negative voice in my head is to flip the script I’m telling myself. I go back through my day and find something to make me smile. Sometimes it’s just remembering a funny moment. My favorite memory is a recent conversation I had with my six year old nephew, Kent. He said, “Aunt Celeste how old are you?”
I said “I’m 56.”
“56! Wow! You look like you can be in your 40’s”
“Thank you, I’ll take it”
“Yeah, I knew you’d like to hear that”
Yes, every time I think of this, it cracks me up. I love his sense of humor and it makes me happy. It also helps me relax and think of more fun times in my life. I feel a sense of gratitude and hope. I think about how soft and nice my pillow is and I fall asleep. That’s when I realize, all we really need is a fluffy pillow to help us sleep.
Advice is so easy to give, but harder to actually follow. Take the overweight, smoking, alcoholic doctor who admonishes us for not living a healthy lifestyle. There are so many things we should and want to be doing for ourselves. We know to stay away from sugar, processed and packaged foods. We know we should exercise, meditate, stay in touch with family and friends and be mindful through all of it. Honestly, writing out this list makes me feel guilty and a little stressed.
It’s noon and the most I’ve accomplished was to eat a healthy breakfast and talk myself out of having a chocolate chip cookie. I spoke to a friend yesterday who told me she can’t let herself sit and relax for too long because she feels it’s a slippery slope to never being productive ever again. It makes sense to constantly feel that we are never doing enough; enough for ourselves, our family, our friends, and our business.
I research everything I can to understand how our mind and body work together. I feel like a fraud if I give suggestions or advice to people that I’m not following myself. I try to follow my own recommendations because I know in the long run, I do feel better. I’m more mindful, more optimistic and more content. I also know that when I get off track and not do everything I need to do for myself that it doesn’t help to beat myself up over it. It’s also something I’ve been able to tell other people: it’s okay to not be perfect.
Life gets in the way of our best laid out plans. It doesn’t mean we have to abandon the path we are working on, it just means we may have to take a different route. Our best stories come from our experiences with the challenges that we faced. Our own sense of inspiration comes from recognizing just how far we have come.
I can appreciate hearing other people’s stories of how they found success through their persistence. I understand that they want to share their knowledge and give advice to others. I think we all want to encourage and support each other. I just don’t believe that we can give anyone a shortcut to their own accomplishment. We all have to undertake our own journey. We learn from our failures. We all have to go through trial and error to find what works for us.
I do have a strong sense of resentment when I hear someone say: “If I can do it, so can you.” Everyone has their own set of circumstances and experiences. What works for one person will not work for another. I think a better statement would be “let me encourage and support you through your journey to success.”
The one piece of advice I have is to ask for help when you need it. It’s amazing how people seem to come out of the woodwork when you accept the fact that you can’t do it all by yourself. We do need each other. We need to be able to bounce ideas off of people; the wall we are staring at, simply will not offer feedback. Taking your thoughts out of your head, putting it down on paper and sharing it with others is how we begin to take action.
When we help others, we end up helping ourselves. We start to recognize that we want more from our lives and we start to find the time to make it happen. Some days will be more productive than others. We will have setbacks and it will be frustrating. If we can embrace the pitfalls and recognize them as part of the learning process, we will stay motivated to keep going.
The reality is the process is never-ending. We will always strive to be better. I will take my own advice to take care of myself and not push and pull on my life today. We’ll see about tomorrow.
I’m trying to understand, with all that has happened in this election, why so many people, especially women, still support Trump. Maybe it’s because no matter who is wearing your team’s T-shirt, that’s who you are going to stay loyal to. Trump has disparaged everyone who is not a white Christian. A few days ago, it became painfully obvious that all women were, in Trump’s mind, objects. Objects that he can demean and degrade without any consequence. The victims that are coming forward are the ones being judged and refuted. All of this has brought up too many painful memories for me.
I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I wasn’t raped, just an attempted rape. I’ve met many women who have had similar experiences and it’s almost a given; you’re a woman and it’s going to happen to you on some level. I’ve been groped on a crowded subway: I’ve been pushed up against a wall by a boss who thought he had the right to do so; I’ve been followed by men; and I’ve been propositioned while standing on the sidewalk trying to cross the street. Because of my experiences, I am constantly aware of my surroundings. I walk with strength and confidence hoping that will be enough to keep me safe. I see the men who do this for the cowards that they are. They are the ones who are terrified of women. They are scared of being rejected by us, so they use their physical strength to impose their will on us. The pitiful excuse of the man who tried to rape me fits this description perfectly.
I was 20 years old working on my bachelor’s degree at the University of Miami where I had an internship at the cable station. The director and head of the station invited me to go to a networking event. This was the man who was in charge of my internship and my grade. After the event, he drove me to my car that was still in the cable station parking lot. I unlocked my door and got in. He opened the passenger side and jumped into the seat. He grabbed my car keys out of my hand and tried kissing me. I pushed him away but he kept coming at me. I said, “What is wrong with you? You’re married. You have to stop.” He responded, “Look, we both have been drinking. What’s the big deal?” I shouted,”I’m not drunk, and I certainly am not going to have sex with you. Get out of my car!” He looked at me and said, “I can fail you and ruin your grade point average”. He started to grab at me again. Something in me just snapped and I become so angry. I started yelling, “Let me tell you something you asshole: I will rip off your fucking face if you don’t get off me! I will tear your throat out and let everyone know what you tried to do!” ( I may look small and helpless, but I’m quite scary when I get mad) He looked at me and said, “Go ahead. Tell anyone you like. They are not going to believe you.” Thankfully, he got out of the car.
The next day I went to my professor who set up the internship and informed him of what happened. His response was, “Is this the only way you can get hired for the job?” I looked at him dumbfounded and said,”I’m not going to work for him.” My professor said, “Well, it doesn’t really matter then.”
When I had to get my grade for this internship, the director had given my paperwork to his assistant, a woman whom I did very little work for. She decided to give me a C. I asked her what she was basing this grade on and she responded that she felt that was what I deserved. I took the paperwork and went to the director. I handed him the sheet and he just laughed, “Oh, you don’t like the grade she gave you?” I said, “She knows very little about the work I did here. I worked for you. Change this to an A. Now!” He changed my grade to an A.
I bring this last part up for a reason. Working with other women was also an obstacle. Instead of banding together and helping each other, I found many women siding with men, hoping that will give them the respect they want. All it did was help this type of behavior become acceptable.
That’s the only way I can reason why so many women will still support Trump. You can’t tell me it’s because you like his ideas or that Hillary is crooked. The facts are that Hillary Clinton has been investigated for Benghazi, her emails, her charitable foundation and still comes out innocent. Trump has done very little for this country. As a matter of fact he has done a lot to hurt people financially and emotionally. There is nothing presidential about him. He’s not smart; he’s a failed businessman and a sexual predator. It’s time that all women come together and send a loud message to all the cowards in this country that we will not stand for this type of behavior anymore.
We all do our own Dance of the Seven Veils everyday. We make quick decisions on what we will reveal of ourselves to others depending on circumstance and familiarity. Through experience we recognize what we can show to others and what we need to keep hidden. This concept seems simple enough but I grew up with parents who strongly believed in this philosophy “Don’t talk to anyone outside of the family about the family”. I was so afraid to divulge anything about myself to others that I said very little. This did make me a great listener but that is not enough if you are trying to cultivate friendships. People came to me with their problems and knew I would keep their secrets safe. These same people who confided in me would soon act like they didn’t know me. I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong. It wasn’t until a long time friend said to me, “You know so much about me and I don’t know anything about you. Is there a reason you don’t include me on what’s going on in your life”? This feeling of staying private was so ingrained in me that I didn’t realize that this action was keeping me from having real relationships.
Revealing ourselves little by little to people whom we want to know better is a give and take that I was not doing. They trusted me but I was not returning that trust. It took me a long time to figure out that other people were interested in knowing me, not just the surface part of me. That’s when I began to understand the layers we wrap ourselves up in. It’s trial and error of finding that line between too much information and what’s actually appropriate for the setting. I have performed on stage The Dance of the Seven Veils and I thought it could be used as an interesting analogy of what we do in our daily lives.
The first veil we drop is the one strangers see. We all want to make a good first impression, so we are on our best behavior. We come across happy, confident, well-adjusted, and fun. We keep an open mind to other people’s ideas. We are guarded on how much we will disclose of ourselves: think of first date, job interview and talking to the bartender.
The second veil we drop is for our casual friends or acquaintances; people we don’t see on a regular basis but they are important to our network. Our conversations revolve around work and family but rarely get much deeper than that. These are people we hope will think of us for business opportunities, references or call us when they have tickets to a Yankees game they can’t use.
The third vail we drop is for our co-workers. We want them to see us as hard working, professional, ethical and efficient. We want them to hear our ideas and appreciate the work we are doing. We want to be accepted as team players. For most of us our co-workers become our second family. It makes sense to get frustrated or impatient at times with the people you are dealing with on a regular basis. To keep good working relationships steady we choose our words carefully: no matter how mad we get at Paul for eating the yogurt that clearly has our name on it.
The fourth veil we drop is for our family. I know what you’re thinking: that our family knows us best. Not necessarily. They have known us since we were kids and most likely they will always see us as kids. I believe we want to make our parents and siblings proud of us. Let’s face it though, I’m sure there are things that we have done in our life that are better left unsaid when it comes to our family; of course that may just be me.
The fifth veil we drop is for our very best friend. This is the person who knows us best; whom we can truly be ourselves with. The one who gets our twisted sense of humor; who doesn’t try to change us; the one we can tell our deepest, darkest secrets and know we will not be judged; with whom we can be as silly as we want and not feel bad about it. It helps that we know where their skeletons are buried as well.
The sixth veil we drop is for our partner in crime otherwise known as the significant other. Hopefully, this person is also our best friend. This is the one who sees us completely naked and still loves us. Who puts up with us when our sunny disposition isn’t so sunny. When we can argue with that person and know that they are not going to leave but stay and fight. Who will challenge us and make us grow as a person more than any other relationship we have. Which is perfect because we are doing the same for them. I try to be fair with my husband and let him know that if he keeps pushing my buttons the psycho bitch will come out and rip his face off. I believe honesty is the best policy.
The seventh veil we drop is for us. Only we know our innermost thoughts. Our experiences and perceptions that are shaped by our life is ours alone. We know the struggle of trying to improve ourselves. Trying to be more understanding, more forgiving and more compassionate is an ongoing process. We have to remember to be kind to ourselves and love ourselves unconditionally. We have to be comfortable with our own company. I know I am because I know how to make a great cocktail and I appreciate that.
When I was growing up, I had never heard of Attention Deficit Disorder-ADD or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder-ADHD. It wasn’t until my little brother’s teacher informed me that he should get evaluated. I was in the classroom watching him spin around like a whirling dervish and his teacher explained her concern. She said “If I ask Tommy to slide under the table, jump over the chair, and walk around the circle of kids to get to the door, he would do it. But, if I tell him to walk from here to the door, he would run into the table, knock over the chair and stumble into the circle of kids trying to get to the door. He’s smart but he is hyper and cannot sit still for more than a few minutes. He is easily distracted, and I’m worried that he will have a tough time getting through school.” I respected this teacher. She wasn’t looking to medicate an energetic child but I noticed, early on, that Tommy had a hard time focusing on anything for very long. He couldn’t sit still and would run himself ragged. He had many nights that his whole body hurt from playing so hard and not being able to relax. I had him tested by a group of neurologists that the pediatrician recommended.They told me that the drug Ritalin has been around for over fifty years. It is getting a bad reputation lately because too many people are using it on children who don’t need it. In Tommy’s case, Ritalin helped him sit through class. He said it felt good not to have to constantly keep moving; he admitted he finally felt comfortable in his own skin.
I started researching ADD to better understand and help my brother. A friend of mine, a psychologist, recommended Thom Hartmann’s book “Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception”. Mr. Hartmann put forward a great understanding of this condition by using the analysis of being a Hunter or a Farmer. My friend said, “You might find this very helpful” and I realized she wasn’t just talking about Tommy.
I was never that hyper but I always had trouble staying focused when I was in school. I would try to stay in the moment and listen to the teacher but inevitably, my mind would wander to a million places. I fell easily into daydreams and when I would “wake up” I would realize that I missed the last half hour of the teacher’s lecture. Recess was not much different. I would be jumping rope one minute and then trying to catch a football in the next. The idea of sticking to just one game didn’t make sense to me.
I would constantly tell myself that when the weekend came, I would get my homework done first thing. I would not wait till Sunday night to do it. Yes, you guessed right, homework was not even looked at until Sunday night. Even now, I will put off work until the deadline is just a few hours away.
Case in point. I started this article last year. With no deadline, there’s no reason for me to even finish this. Why bother now? Well, I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last couple of years. One of the biggest things is the decision to stop doubting and over analyzing everything I do. Oh, I hope that came out right. Maybe I should do a rewrite after all. Nope, I’ll just keep going. I’ve learned to write down a real plan of action. Seeing my goals set down on a daily basis gives me the motivation to move forward.
Wait, I need to stop here and file my nails. I will also go look in the fridge even though I’m not hungry. While I’m in the kitchen, I will do the dishes I left in the sink this morning which will lead me to cleaning the microwave, the stove and the countertop before I sit down and continue working on this piece. Okay, so I’m still working on the discipline part. Back to Thom Hartmann’s book. He writes:
People with ADD are the descendants of hunters. They’d have to be constantly scanning their environment looking for food and for threats to them:that’s distractibility. They’d have to make instant decisions and act on them without a second’s thought when they’re chasing or being chased through the forest or jungle, which is impulsivity. And they’d have to love the high-stimulation and risk-filled environment of the hunting field. It’s only a flaw if you’re in a society of farmers.
Mr. Hartmann goes on to explain that today’s society awards the Farmers. Farmers are people who can keep to a routine day after day. They can sit still and absorb information. They can pick a career and job that they will do for the rest of their lives. Hunters on the other hand, have trouble sitting in class for long periods of time. Their attention span is great when it’s information that they are interested in, otherwise, it is fleeting. They will also have a few different careers. Not because they can’t find something they like, but because they get bored easily. It’s a wonderful book to read whether to gain better understanding of yourself or perhaps your child or your spouse.
For me, it gave me a whole new way to look at myself. It was nice to know that there are so many other people who feel and act the same way I do. If we were living in a different time our skill sets would be envied and not frustrating to the people around us. Thom Hartmann’s book also explains how adults with ADD have been able to adapt and work out their own version of a routine. For example: If I want to know where my keys are, I have to put them in the same place everyday, otherwise, they will be lost forever. Time has never meant anything to me but I’m never late because I know to prepare the night before. If I want to complete my to-d0-list, I have to have it written out with a deadline for each task, otherwise, I will find plenty to distract me. Oh, look, it’s snowing.
My brother, Tommy, is all grown up now. He has turned his passion for cooking into the never ending study of being a chef. He likes the creative outlet of preparing new dishes. The restaurant life works for him because everyday has its own set of challenges. With a little guidance and a lot of patience, people with ADD have quite a bit to contribute to our community.
Now, where did I put my keys?
“Live Everyday Like it’s Your Last.” “Live Your Life to the Fullest.” “Regret Nothing.” “Find Your Passion.”
I know these wonderful thought provoking sayings are made with only good intentions. To remind us to take nothing for granted. Sometimes it’s a little too much pressure for me. I don’t have the energy to live everyday like it’s my last. Honestly, catching up with the latest episodes of The Walking Dead is me living my life to the fullest. I have lots of regrets and most have to do with not finding my passion. I also know that for the most part, I enjoy my life. I’m working on a new career as a professional speaker. I want to help other women reach their goals in health and well- being. It’s not easy reinventing myself. I have my days of doubts and concerns of how this will all work out. I realize that I wouldn’t stay on this path if I wasn’t feeling so happy about it. I think that is what most of us want out of life, to simply be happy.
Why do we have trouble finding contentment? When is it ever right? “It” being our weight, our pocketbook, our marriage our business, our home and our relationship with ourselves? Who has the time, energy or motivation to do more than what we are doing and yet it is never enough. Let’s be happy today. Today everything is right no matter what. Adversity is what makes us grow stronger. When all is going well, rejoice and be grateful. Not guilty because your friend is having a hard time or paranoid that the good time won’t last. See the journey that is life and take some chances. If you are feeling that life should be more, than you know it’s time to do something different. No one wants to fail, and yet, that is how we learn to be better. We all wish we could change the past. No one walks this earth perfectly. We are here to learn and to grow. We are going to make mistakes. The quicker we learn from our mistakes, the quicker we can move on to the next challenges life will give us. There are rewards and consequences for all of our actions. In one way or another we create our opportunities to do the right thing or fall short and deal with bad decisions.
Many of us feel trapped and won’t make a decision or plan of action to change the situation. Every action has a reaction and not doing anything can leave us feeling stuck. Energy begets energy. Do something, anything to get your energy moving again. Every decision you make should be the best one you can make at any given moment. If it turns out to be a bad choice, do your best to fix it, learn from it and try not to repeat the same mistake. Give yourself credit that you were acting on the best possible scenario and took a chance. Life is risky, but it comes with rewards. Believe in yourself, strength in your courage and most important of all, the ability to open yourself to love. Love of yourself and love of others.
Inspiration and motivation are wonderful catalysts in helping to achieve greatness. Of course greatness is subject to perception. All of us have our own definition of success. When I look back over my life, I want to remember the adventures I had, not how well I executed a sale or that I never ran out of clean clothes. I want my memories to be filled with family and friends, of dancing all night, of swimming in the ocean and of sharing a great bottle of wine with the one I love. I work out so I can eat cake. I do my job so I can afford a plane ticket. I keep my house clean so I can invite people over. I meditate to center myself. I love to talk, but I love to listen more. I have compassion and empathy to anyone who needs it. My life may not be summed up in clever quotes, but I try to be the best that I can be.