Mental Health Advice: Learn to Read Body Language

The Vibrant Moment – Remember: Read body language.
Tools from the Center for New Psychology
Publisher: Doris Jeanette, Holistic Psychology Mentor, Coach


Several years ago, my mother was preparing her famous southern scallop potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner when I noticed she severely tightened up her lips as she was pouring the potatoes into the baking dish.

As soon as I saw the body language of my mother I realized where I learned to tighten my lips. Not only did I see myself in her, I realized her tight lips were trying to control the outcome of her potatoes! Never had I thought about control being a factor when cooking.

In the 1970’s I received referrals from the Beck Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. While looking for new ways to help people who did not benefit from psychotherapy or CBT, I begin to actively use body language and body awareness with my new referrals. This is when I discovered the difference between control and power. Read last week’s The Vibrant Moment for the definition and difference between control and power:  Relationship Advice: Choose Power, not Control

When I taught my clients to notice their body, face, lips, feet, stomach, and what their physical form was doing at any point in time, they were much more likely to give up their denial, exaggeration, and defensive behaviors quickly without resistance. Noticing when they controlled themselves and when they did not was much more effective that trying to change their negative thoughts into positive thoughts.

This is because the tension in your body gives you the feedback that you are in control and not in your power. You can learn to feel how control feels in your body. You may or may not notice when your body is tense. Many people do not. This is the reason taking body language classes, workshops, and home study courses help you become more body conscious.

Also, use mirrors and photographs. Mirrors and photographs help you become more aware if you slow down and look. Do not throw away the photos you do not like. For example, recently a stranger was using my Nikon camera to photograph a family holiday card for me. I was directing her as she was taking the photo. At first, I did not think she was clicking all the way through because the light did not flash.

When I looked at the photos I could see she had indeed taken them correctly. I could also see how I looked when I did not think she was taking them correctly! You should see my face. Unattractive, screwed up and tense. And tight, especially my lips. Yes, of course, my lips.

So, my control showed up for me to see once again. Did my tight face help make the photos better? Did my mother’s tight lips make her potatoes taste better. Nope. Control never makes anything better.

Remembering how I looked in control sure reminds me to relax my lips more often throughout the day.


CONTROL OR POWER? Learn the difference between power and control. My book, HOW TO HEAL A BROKEN HEART AND STOP THE HURT: Mend Your Relationship Heartache With Self-Love teaches you in the first section the difference between control and power. $3.99

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BODY AWARENESS HOME STUDY COURSE: It is your Inner Critic who controls you and makes you anxious. The Overcome Anxiety Naturally home study course leads you into more body awareness so you become strong enough to throw your inner critic off your chest. Then you breath and feel much more relaxed being in your power. $149.97, 10 written lessons, five hours of audio, money-back guarantee.

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READ BODY LANGUAGE: Join a six-week Skype class on Body Language in 2015 with a small group of motivated people. Your body gives you immediate feedback about whether you are in control or power. You also know what other people are doing and feeling. Please email me and let me know if you are interested. The cost will be $300.00.

Call:  215-732-6197.