Positive Bodytalk

One of the best things about your body language with your friends is your instinctive tendency to perform postural echo This is a natural mirroring of movement, mood, and pace that can even have the effect of making friends look like one another . Sometimes it's contrived to send a conscious signal of pack formation and exclusivity to the rest of the world An example of this is when school kids create their own gestures and language and clothing style that—although not exclusive to their pack and probably copied from others in the first place—will be worn as a kind of badge to denote similarities within their group

When two close friends greet one another there are usually mirrored rituals, with changes in facial expression and displays of hugging, patting, and even punching or hitting that would never be used between strangers It's polite to greet friends in this intimate way, but it can be less usual to greet family members with such gusto

Sadly, the very fact that you feel less pressure to "put your best face forward" with close family members can lead to upset or conflict As much as we cherish the ability to "be ourselves" with family, that nonperforming "self can be wearing to live with . Any parent who has ever watched their teenage offspring's communications range from open, positive, and friendly with their peers to monosyllabic and negative with them will know the feelings of anger, frustration, bewilderment, and rejection that occur as a result. What should really be flattering— the fact that the teen has no feelings of pressure to mask their depression and bewilderment at life in general when with their parents—becomes perceived as an insult . The same is true of many close family relationships Without the perceived need for social masking, a very unpleasant-looking "real" self can emerge .

It's perhaps important to remember that we were all once egocentric children who only saw our own needs and wants and had no thoughts of social performing This child is still very much alive and well inside ourselves, and we can happily revert to that same state when we're feeling safest and most relaxed .

A colleague's elderly father was recently disabled. Whenever she visited she would sit listening to a catalog of moans and descriptions of the levels of depression he was suffering . Yet when she bumped into the next-door neighbor she was told how bright and upbeat her father was and how well he was braving his disablement, always laughing it off. My colleague quite naturally felt resentment . Why did she get all the moans while everyone else got this upbeat performance? The answer is an easy one, but dealing with this incongruence is probably less easy . Do relatives always get the worst of their family members? The answer is probably yes . Family relationships can be very selfish because that's the framework they're based on . At one time a parent or older sibling would have had the job of nurturing the younger child and offering it unconditional love This state is very seductive and it's one we seek to replicate throughout our entire lives This means being loved in spite of our behavior, not the demanding, exhausting social mask we use on everyone else

Continue reading here: Hierarchy and pecking orders

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