The Way You Do That Thing

I recently read an article that suggested that they could provide you with insights into your personality depending on how you held your handbag, and the first thought that came to mind was, “How fickle!” Then I thought about it a little more and quickly realised that the same can be done with almost any shared behaviour that can be analysed between people. There is a general tone that underlies all of these behaviours, and it’s that emotional tone that I think is more insightful than any reactive analysis of how we handle a bag, purse, or wallet.

I’ve found that my mental state is either calm and composed, excited and passionate, or weighed down and dreary. Sure, there are a number of permutations that exist across each of those bands, and that is to be expected, but there is almost always only one of them that is dominant at any given point in time. The one that is dominant is either spurred on by environment, or objective. The stronger we are at maintaining our sense of self in the face of adversity, the more likely we’ll be able to maintain our disposition out of choice rather than through instinctive response to what is happening around us.

With this somewhat simplistic view, consider it within the context of how you write or doodle. When you’re calm and composed, in other words not feeling threatened or under pressure, your signature will probably be more fluid in its movements or curves. Your fingers or wrist won’t strain when you’re signing that till slip or contract, and your pressure will be differentiated just enough to place emphasis on those elements that subconsciously define your passions and inclinations, while skimming over those that simply complete the statement of who you are. Sign the same till slip when you’re feeling pressured or under duress, and suddenly the elements that were previously just mildly emphasized are now prominent, while the detail of the rest is quickly transformed into an unrecognizable squiggle because making a statement about the complete you is not so important. All that is important when you’re in that mindset is to establish your significance. To make a bold statement about who you are and why you demand to be taken seriously.

The same is true when we doodle. Under duress the doodle is harsh and deliberate. Usually concentrated patches of graphics or hard angles, while fluid and shaded when we’re not under duress. Squares and jagged edges replace curves and flowers to express frustration or anxiety. Logical flows or sequences reflect a need for structure, or an expression of boredom, and so on.

At the risk of over simplifying it (more than I already have) this in a nutshell is how every action of ours reflects what is going on internally. Those that pay attention to these nuances in our behaviour gain an insight into our frame of mind that allows them to use it, or abuse it to their advantage. Sometimes, a sincere observer will pick up on it and find ways to either draw you out of the detrimental phase you’re in, or they’ll make you aware of it so that you can use it to your advantage. How? Consider it from this perspective. If I am aware of the response I get from others when I’m angry, and that response gets the results that I need after all other avenues are exhausted, in future I will be able to draw on anger as a tool of expression when needed, rather than sliding into an angry state because I’m out of control.

What I mean is, if anger is used as a tool of expression, rather than a last resort to demand to be taken seriously, it becomes a lot more productive and is easier to harness and control, than if it is simply a state that overtakes us in a moment of desperation. To achieve this, we must be mindful (yeah, that word again). But mindful of what, you might ask? Mindful of the dynamics of the situation we’re faced with, and more importantly, mindful of our internal state in response to that situation. A third dimension that extends from the latter is an ongoing awareness of our abilities or talents. The more aware we are of what we’re capable of, the more likely we will be to deliberately draw on those abilities or talents selectively when needed, rather than relying on instinct to bring it to the fore when needed.

So how does all this relate to how you do that thing? The way you walk, the angle of your step, the gait you adopt, the completeness of your smile, the expressiveness of your style. It all reflects who you are, and what you wish to convey to the world. The more bold you are, the more confident you are that where you’re at is worth being admired and celebrated. The more subtle you are, the less likely you are to want the attention of others unless specifically needed. We say more with our actions and non-verbal expressions than we ever say with words. Think about that the next time you remain quiet when you know someone is expecting an overt verbal response. Then smile quietly as you have that a-ha moment. It’s that moment that, if nurtured, will spur you on to grow larger than the life you lead up to that point. That’s the power of mindfulness. It forces us to be accountable where before we felt we were victims.

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