Expressing excellence in all life areas starts with the physical level. It requires you to recognize that your body is inextricably linked to thought, emotions, communication and every other aspect involved in self-expression.
Every waking hour is spent in some or other emotional state. No one can be entirely free of emotion – not while you are alive and in a state of consciousness!
The feeling need not be dramatic; it may be positive or negative; even being lethargic or calm or confident requires one to be in an emotional state. Unconsciously you give expression to that feeling through your physique, and depending on your personal style, this occurs overtly to a lesser or greater extent, depending on the level of expressiveness you favour. Though you may be unaware of that expression someone else will detect what state you find yourself in, depending on that person’s level of attention and sensitivity and how well he or she knows you.
Changing your thought patterns or processes can significantly alter your physiology. And changing your physiology in turn will alter your mindset. So, it works both ways. Try this: sit up straight, square your shoulders and breathe deeply. What does that do for you? Now think of something that you find stimulating in a positive way – this could be an event, an experience, a conversation, or anything else that is significant and constructive. What effect does that have on your emotional experience in this moment?
Next, do both of these things together – in fact, get up, stretch yourself to your full height, smile and also think about this special occasion. Notice the effect it has on your body and your emotions.
If you are generally in touch with your emotions and have an expressive style, you will find this easy to do. If you tend to suppress your emotions, you may find it more difficult to get into this frame of mind instantly. Getting in touch with your feelings requires a different approach, outside of the scope of this article.
A mind overpowered by an emotion such as anxiety or fear results in a physical expression. The person’s physical appearance changes to one of closure and self-protection. The opposite is also true – being confident and feeling that you have personal power results in a different physical manifestation, one with a positive effect. You can raise someone else’s emotions from being limiting (such as being in a mild state of irritation) to a more favourable level through the physical expression of your emotions, especially if the experience is intense, such as excitement. The reverse is also true – if you are not aware of the impact of others’ emotional climate on your physique and mind, it is easy to be drawn into a state of depression, uncertainty or some other limiting emotion; limiting in terms of intellectual, social and emotional functioning.
Emotions are even more catching than the common cold – people who start the day in a good frame of mind may feel their emotional climate deteriorating rapidly into feelings of anger, despair, irritation and frustration, blissfully unaware of the viral effect of the emotions of others in their surrounds.
Helping someone else to get to a more positive emotional state is linked to the degree or intensity of the emotion experienced in that moment. It is a common occurrence to first measure the emotional temperature of a partner, colleague, friend or manager before we proceed with a request or suggestion or conversation.
It is more difficult to lower the intensity of emotions such as fury, shock, fear and grief. You would not display exhilaration when you want to bring some relief to a grief stricken friend. In this case, you tone your emotion down, meeting the person slightly above their level of affect. By keeping your display of emotional energy slightly above theirs you are much more likely to establish a connection of benefit to your friend. By remaining aware of your intention, you protect yourself from getting pulled into the same intense level of emotional distress.
You can train yourself to remain in a favourable mood by deliberately expressing confidence, control, calm or a happy demeanour. Through your physiology you have a strong antidote to harmful emotional contagion. (Obviously there are circumstances where this will not be appropriate – if you find yourself in harm’s way, you still need to express that in the appropriate way – by flight, for instance!)
Step one in the process is to become aware of the infectious nature of emotion. Secondly, empower yourself by literally becoming the embodiment of mindful emotional expression, starting with your physiology. This is also the first step in practising a “results orientation” for the achievement of desired outcomes, whether tangible or intangible.