SELF-AWARENESS AND BODY LANGUAGE EXERCISES
Carl H. Shubs, Ph.D. © July, 2004
We all express something about ourselves through our bodies, our posture, facial expressions, general movement, and tone of voice. My Article of the Month (July, 2004) discusses something about how these factors reflect and affect our self-image, identity, self-esteem, and interactions with people.
Look in a mirror and try to pay attention to what your body is expressing for and about you. Here are some suggestions that may help you notice some things about yourself. These may be difficult because the act of looking does change what it is we are seeing, and it is often difficult for us to be truly objective when looking at ourselves.
- What is your overall experience as you see this person in the mirror? Try to look from the point of view of the observer, not the one who is in the mirror being observed. If you saw this person, what would you think about them? How would you feel about them? What kinds of words/adjectives would you think of using to describe them? What would be your reaction in encountering them? How would you feel if you were to be interacting with them? Would you feel open and available? Scared and wary? Excited and turned on? Interested? Confused? Sad for them? Seeing them as fragile and therefore you are feeling a need to treat them gently and tentatively?
- How would you describe the look in their eyes? What do you feel them say to you through their eyes? What do you feel them say through their eyes about themselves? About you? About what they want from you?
- How would you describe the expression of their mouth? What do you feel them say to you through that expression of their mouth as they look at you? What do you feel them say through that expression about themselves? About you? About what they want from you?
- How would you describe the expression of their posture? What do you feel them say to you through their posture as they look at you? What do you feel them say through that expression about themselves? About you? About what they want from you?
- How would you describe the way they naturally move in their body? What does it seem to express, and what are the words it seems to say in that expression?
- Try doing the same with different facial expressions and body postures. See how comfortable these expressions and postures feel to you. Do they feel normal and natural? Unnatural and uncomfortable? Do they come easily or require much effort?
- Listen to your tone of voice; the volume, pitch, lilt, quality, and intensity of it. Does it sound inviting? Angry? Frightening? Timid? Secure/insecure? Confident? How do you feel as you try to change the nature of our voice? Does it feel real, fake? It may help to tape your voice to really hear what it sounds like.
- You might find that some postures, facial expressions, and vocal expressions come easily and feel natural while others are difficult and feel uncomfortable. Notice what the feelings and self-expressions or statements are in each category.
- If you were to see this person out in a social environment, how would you feel being around them? Would you even notice them? Would you feel safe having them near you? Would you feel welcome to go talk with them? Would you feel excited, turned on, or invited in by them?
This is a difficult exercise to do alone and with a mirror. It is often difficult for us to really see ourselves. Most importantly, much of our “vibe” is communicated unconsciously. Sometimes, an exercise such as this can help us break through that unconscious barrier to listen to that communication as it is expressed through our body.
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