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The Link Between Unconscious Mind and Body Language

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People believe that they are usually in control of their own behavior. But the only behavior that we are in control of is the ones we think of doing. Other behaviors or actions we make everyday are things that we are oblivious of. This is controlled by our unconscious mind. Sigmund Freud believed that most of our mind is unconscious than conscious. It includes our thoughts, memories, desires, and conflicts. Our unconscious mind controls many of our actions and whether we know it or not, our body speaks for itself. An example of this would be the act of driving a car. From the beginning of just learning how to drive, we are aware of every single move we make. First we put our seat belt on, next we start the car, push down the brakes, shift the gear, and etc. All of these movements are things we have to actively think about, when we first learn to drive. But after awhile, our body moves on its own and everything becomes automatic. We start to act before we even think about the action that we are about to make or not even think about it at all. This is when our unconscious mind plays a role.

Our unconscious mind is driven by our fears, desires, and needs that we are not aware of. One of our biggest desires as human beings is our sexual desire. We do many things to help ourselves satisfy our sexual needs, and we do many of them unconsciously. Another example would be our fear of rejection. We do or we do not do a lot of things because of our fear of rejection. A basic example of this could be when someone consciously hates school because in their unconscious mind, they are afraid of trying and failing. We are not aware many fears, desires, and needs that affect our everyday life. This is why many people do things without really knowing the reasons behind their actions. One of the things that every single person learns or tries to learn throughout their whole life is how to read other people. When we try to figure someone out, we look at their eyes, their face, and we try to read their body language. But the hardest things to see when we try to read a person are their micro expressions. Micro expressions are facial expressions that occur 1/25th of a second and exposes someone’s true feelings. These are expressions that we can not hide no matter how hard we try. According to the article “Micro Expressions” by Paul Elkman, micro expressions are universal and no matter what age group you land in or where you come from these facial expressions are the same for every person. You might think that every person is different and has different facial expressions, but when you look at a stranger, most of the time you can tell if they are in a good or bad mood, that if they are showing it. It’s similar to when a person tries to hide their emotions, you would be able to tell if you were an expert in micro expressions.

One thing that is not a secret is that most of our body language shows our sexual desires. We might not be aware of it, but many of our everyday behaviors lead to our desire for sexual pleasure. For example, when a woman ties her hair up or flips her hair to the side, she is showing more of her face and neck for men to admire. When a person is speaking to the opposite sex and they lean towards them, it is showing their desire to get sexually closed to them. Other examples would be licking one’s lips, pouting the mouth, the way we walk and the swaying of the hips, and the hardest things to spot and is one of our micro expressions is when our pupil dilate when we are aroused. These are our everyday actions that we unconsciously do because of our sexual needs.

Even if we try to resist not to give away what is in our unconscious mind, our body just can’t help. In the book Keywords by Raymond Williams, the word nature has many meanings and it is commonly used in the phrase human nature. The phrase is used as the essential quality and characteristics of human beings. This phrase relate to the unconscious actions and behavior of people. It is our nature as humans to have needs and sexual desires, and it is our nature to act based on these needs. We can not hide our true emotions no matter how hard we try because it is our human nature to have them and act upon them. Anyone can learn how to read micro expressions, but it takes a lot of practice and amazing observation skills. This is something we have basically been learning and practicing our whole lives. When we think someone is lying, we look at their eyes, the tone of their voice, and listen to the words they are saying. Many times we see the obvious clues or proofs that someone is lying, but we miss a lot with the 1/25th second micro expressions. When someone is speaking about a subject and they scratch the top of their lip or bottom of their nose, it is usually because they do not believe a word they are saying. Another example is when someone is making a speech and they step back, it is because they are ashamed of the lies they are saying. These are clues we usually do not pay attention to, but should be.

When someone is aroused, there are other ways you can tell other than the obvious ways. One of the things that I have mentioned is the dilation of the eyes. When someone sees a person they are attracted to, their eyes dilate. In Sigmund Freud’s book “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality,” it states “When people look at erotic images and become aroused, their pupils open up in an unconscious reaction that could be used to study orientation and arousal without invasive genital measurements.” They say the eyes are the windows to one’s soul, that is because the eyes can tell you many things about what a person is feeling even when they hide it from you. The easiest expression to read is probably anger. But let us say that when a cop is questioning a suspect for a crime of murder and the suspect will obviously try to conceal his hatred towards the victim. Investigators are trained to notice every single movement that a person makes, but even the best can miss a clue. From a psychotic killer, you might expect a smile when asked about the murder. This is because they are content with what they have done. It is the same as a regular smile except it is 1/25th of a second and is very hard to catch. When we read a person, we also listen to their voice. The most important thing we hear is the tone of their voice. The tone is what usually tells us what the person is feeling. When someone is lying, sometimes the tone of their voice sounds like they are reading a script or memorized a dialogue. Sometime the pitch of their voice also gets higher. A fun trick to catch when someone is lying about their story is to make them tell to you the story backwards. Liars usually rehearsed their stories from beginning to end, and it would be impossible for them to tell it backwards because they have no real memory of it.

Besides the tone of someone’s voice, the volume and the speed of them speaking is also an obvious read. When someone is angry, they tend to speak louder and faster. When they are feeling down, their volume decreases and they speak slower. These are also some things we don’t pay attention to in our everyday lives. We know we do them when we think about it and we recognize them when hear it or see it on other people. We know how to tell a person’s emotions by just listening to their voice. The voice is one of the easiest things to conceal or fake when someone is trying to hide their emotions. That is why another helpful way to read someone is by listening to the way they are breathing. Another thing that we usually don’t notice or give importance to is the way someone is breathing. When someone is nervous or scared, they experience shortness of breath. This often happens when someone is lying to you. When someone is sad, they tend to sigh even when they are hiding it, they release a silent sigh. When someone is aroused, they breathe deeper and slower. These are many things we can use to understand a person’s feelings and know what they are thinking. Most of us believe that when you are trying to read a person, the face can tell you everything. But the best liars can lie without hinting anything on their face. The best thing to do to get information from a person is by looking at their body. When someone is nervous, they tend to play with their body. Either they are tapping their foot, or tapping their fingers, bite their nails and sometimes girls tend to play with their hair. These can come in handy when you are trying to see if someone is lying or hiding something.

One example of us not being able to hide our emotion completely is when we are around a person we do not like. When we see someone we are not fond of or hear their name, sometimes we frown our lips without knowing it or we twitch the side of our upper lip. An obvious one that we might not be aware of is when are in a circle of people and someone is right behind us, we either tend to move our body opening the circle or we keep our back facing them. That all depends on our feelings towards that person. Many of our unconscious actions are driven by our fear therefore we act to protect ourselves. When a person is confident and fearless, they have good posture with their chest out and their chin up. When a person is afraid, they tend to shrink themselves. Their head is down, their hands and arms folded or crossed in front of them and their shoulders are forward. One thing that is common for men is they tend to intertwine their fingers and place it on their lap, covering their genitals when they are nervous or afraid. This because they are protecting themselves from whatever they are afraid of. Many of our everyday unconscious actions comes from what state of being we are in. Many times we unconsciously do things when we are bored. Some people tap their fingers or their foot, some play with whatever they have in hand. Sometimes we find ourselves doodling in class or writing scribbles on a textbook. We do these things because our unconscious mind is trying to entertain us to keep us awake and alert.

One of the hardest emotions to hide no matter how hard we try is nervousness. That feeling you get when you have to go up in front of people and speak. You try not to make it obvious, but your hands starts to shake, your voice starts to break, and your eyes can’t keep straight. Many times we forget to breath or our breathing becomes heavy when we are nervous. These are the thing we wish we can control, but can not. The most obvious unconscious actions that we can not help but do are our habits. We all know the saying old habits are hard to break. We do them without even realizing that we are doing them. We all have habits that we have developed over the years. Even when we try to break them, we find it hard to stop doing them. These are actions that we are both conscious and unconscious about. We are aware of them, but the reason we call them habits is because we do not usually realize it during the moment we do them. Even though we have all of these unconscious actions, our unconscious mind’s focus is on our sexual needs. Sigmund Freud’s theory about sexual desires was that from childhood development, we go through psychosexual stages. “Each stage of psychosexual stages represents of libido on a different area of the body. A person’s sexual drive or instincts starts from childhood and as a child we did not know what sexual desires even meant. This just shows that the sexual area of our unconscious has been controlling us even from the early stages of our lives. Sexual intercourse and reproducing is our human nature and our unconscious will lead us to that no matter what. An article and a video from UbuWEb called “Knot” by Deborah Colker explains the sexual desires of a man and a woman through the language of dance. There are no words spoken throughout the video and instead they use their facial expressions and body movements to express their desires. This is a perfect representation of Freud’s theory that our actions and movements shows our unconscious desires and needs.

Works Cited

  1. ‘Welcome to the Purdue OWL.’ Purdue OWL: Literary Theory and Schools of Criticism. Web. 09 Apr. 2017.
  2. Colker, Deborah. ‘Knot.’ UbuWeb Dance: Deborah Colker – No Knot (2006). Web. 11 Apr. 2017.
  3. Williams, Raymond. Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. New York, NY: Oxford UP, 2015.
  4. Freud, Sigmund, and James Strachey. Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. New York: Basic, 2007. Print.
  5. Ekman, Paul. ‘Darwin’s Claim of Universals in Facial Expression Not Challenged.’ The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 10 Apr. 2014. Web. 13 May 2017.Ekman, Paul.
  6. ”Become Versed in Reading Faces.’ Entrepreneur. 25 Mar. 2009. Web. 13 May 2017.

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