Your inner child

Let's move forward a few evolutionary cycles now to your own life as a child, where you learned body language for survival and reward When you smiled, everyone went gaga, and when your face crumpled up for tears and screaming you saw adult faces turn fearful, giving you your first burst of baby power

From that moment on you used your body language to get whatever you wanted . Small children are egocentric, so this would have been the way your body language worked If you needed food or attention you would have screamed or cried, going red in the face and pummeling the air with your fists If the food that arrived didn't suit you, you would have wrinkled up your face in disgust and turned your head from side to side Sulking would have meant folded arms, a dipped head, and a jutting bottom lip . Your face would have happily contorted in jealousy if another kid had something you didn't

If you lied you would have tried to cover your face with your hands and you would have thought nothing of throwing a tantrum wherever people gathered in a public place

You also developed a very sophisticated system of calming and comforting yourself You might have sucked your thumb or maybe rubbed at your blanket At times you could have rocked in your chair or chewed at your toys

Of course you've moved on now, right? I mean, it's not as though you'd sit at a board meeting sucking your thumb, or throw yourself onto the floor of the boss's office to kick and scream when that pay raise gets turned down manipulative rituals

You will have realized by now that I'm about to tell you that whether you know it or not you're still performing many of these gestures and patterns of body language behavior Maybe you don't suck your thumb any more but I bet there's some kind of substitute that goes into your mouth when you're placed under pressure Would a grown man stick his lower lip out in a sulky pout when things weren't going his way? Take a look at Simon Cowell, who has turned bottom lip jutting into an art form

Many of these baby or childlike displays are what is called pseudo-infantile remotivators, meaning you look helpless or vulnerable in a bid to motivate someone else to be kind, noncritical, or even nurturing self-comfort gestures

Like it or not, you'll have retained many of your baby body language gestures for use throughout your life They become self-comfort gestures, like fiddling or self-strokes that we all perform to stimulate a state of happiness or relaxation; aggressive gestures like slamming down phones or stomping out of the room when we don't get our own way, or even childlike manipulative gestures, attempting to look cute, sweet, and submissive when we want to be liked or to get someone to do something for us

Both your inner child and your inner ape are still very much in charge when it comes to your body language signals . Being aware of these influences is vital if you're going to tailor your bodytalk to get the most out of situations, otherwise your communications will remain deeply incongruent—that is, your words, tone, and nonverbal signals will be hugely out of kilter at moments when it matters

Continue reading here: From baby to adult

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