Understanding Body Language – By: Dr Charles Bentley

This article is about how you can develop your ability to read the one language that never lies – the language of the body.

The mind thinks, and the body feels. The brain cannot produce emotion by itself. Emotion must always be accompanied by some bodily manifestation. Mental activity may be the primary function of the brain, but this does not cover the entirety of individual existence. The experience of an emotional feeling or mood is a psychosomatic phenomenon. The undeniable fact is that, although we may prefer to think otherwise, we seamlessly exist in one mood or the other during the whole of our individual lives.

‘Actions speak louder than words’. This phrase, or its equivalent in other languages, is part of an intuitive store of folk-wisdom that’s accepted world-wide as an accurate description of a basic truth about human nature. Just to put your thoughts into words, and to leave it at that, is to go on what used to be called a ‘head-trip’. Sooner or later, you need to put your money where your mouth is. Thought produces ideas; words enable us to organise and to communicate these ideas. But when all is said and done – or more to the point, when all is said and not done! – any ideas you may think up, or read, or be told, concerning the nature of the real world can only be proved true or false by checking them out by physical activity. Then, and only then, are you able to evaluate the results using your body’s five senses.

If you want to know what’s really true, you can’t rely on words alone. Words can, and do, lie. What’s more, they do it all the time. Here are just two examples to get on with: ‘Black is white’; ‘One and one make three’. These statements are obviously false. Yet, they appear on this page as clearly and use the same grammatical structure as their authentic opposites, ‘Black is black’; ‘One and one make two’. How is it, then, that you can tell the difference? The answer is simple, and consists of a single word – experience.

As we progress through life, we gain a lot of experience of how to survive in the world through the simple process of trial and error. We learn about the sharpness of needles, and the hotness of ovens, the hard way. But when it comes to interpersonal communication, what can we do when someone we are meeting for the first time says something like, ‘You can trust me!’ True, or false? What attitude are we personally to adopt in response to this particular statement? It’s no good flipping back through our memory files to see what happened in the past when other people said precisely the same thing to us. Even if our attitude then proved to be the correct one, how do we know that this particular person, a stranger, is telling us the truth? We saw at the beginning of this manual that, although our authentic selves are essentially similar, each person has a unique personality structure, different from any other we will have ever come across. There’s no way we can possibly rely on your past experience to check this personality’s main function. Does it act as a cover-up to his or her unadmitted negative emotions? Or, alternatively, is it a channel for the communication of heartfelt and accurately perceived truths?

If we really want to know what’s going on, we’ll need to pay close attention, not just to what’s being said, but also to the physical attitudes that go with it. The words that come out of the mouth can, as we’ve seen, be either true or false. But, the language of the body never lies.

Charles Bentley PhD Charles Bentley Associates http://www.lifecoachuk.com