See, here’s the thing. I am determined to get to the bottom of my mood swings and anxiety so as to learn to cope better with stress, problems and challenges. I’m therefore curious how psychotherapy sees me.
Since our non-verbal behavior is frequently a reaction to an emotional state, I can’t help but wonder:
How do you interpret my body posture – do I keep my back straight? (Stand up straight! Sit up straight! Don’t slouch!) Do I sit comfortably; do I shield myself when standing/sitting; how often do I lean forward? Do I lock my ankles? Do I occasionally cross my legs and/or arms? You told me once the arm-crossing gesture doesn’t necessarily stand for frustration and self restraint, but may help to soothe us or show we’re relaxed and focused on a topic or simply demonstrate we’re cold. No, I’m not defending myself. Or maybe I am?! You know that terrible feeling when you’re found guilty on all charges, although you’re not (at least not of all the things you’ve been accused of), and when you feel you need to justify yourself and explain the inexplicable?
What can you say about me based on my hand gestures – do I habitually scratch my nose, stroke and twirl my hair, and touch my ears, eyes, eyebrows and neck? Have you noticed me ever clench my hands into a fist? I don’t crack my knuckles or bite my nails, do I? Do I lick or suck my lips? Do I rub my skin? Do I sometimes put my hands on my hips? Do I thrust one out?
What message do I communicate through my outfit and accessories? Do the colors I customarily wear, my flat shoes and baggy clothes say I’m conservative, feeling blue, not in the mood, not into fashion (who cares? I certainly don’t) or they just convey a rather practical person with a laid-back personality? Do I use thumbs-up, high five and ok signs or a pointer finger for pointing? Do I wave good-bye when we part?
Additionally, have you paid close attention to my tone of voice – the pitch, pacing, loudness, pauses, volume and rate? What words or phrases do I frequently stress? When does my voice crack or tend to get flat or high-pitched? When do I make deliberate pauses; when do I talk a lot (do I talk too much?) and when do I seem quieter? Do I repeatedly shake my head when listening? Do I nod? Am I a good listener? If yes, why do I interrupt people so much? Is it a wish to move the conversation forward (Hold your horses!)? Could it be competitiveness or rather showing understanding and sympathy or just a communication style? Or maybe something quite different and since you wouldn’t be you without always looking on the bright side of life, I took the liberty of portraying it on your behalf as a distinguishing feature of very smart and incredibly creative and engaging people (thanks dear)? Finally, when do I change my speech rate? Do I talk fast, slowly or just right? Do I sigh? Do I use direct or indirect speech more when retelling what I or somebody else said? Do I repeat my own words; do I use quotations and onomatopoeia; do I go back to the same stories time and time again; how often do I forget where I was with the story?
Do I lie, how often and when? What gives me away?
What do you find most deceptive about me?
How often does my non-verbal communication contradict what I’m saying?
What do you see that I don’t or don’t want to?