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  • Writer's pictureWendy Smith

Your State Matters

What is your resting bitch face?

This is a question I consider on a daily basis. What does your face look like to others? Have you ever noticed what face you pull when you are resting and how this affects your mood? Do you have a particular face at work and have you ever been aware of the effect this has on other people in your environment?

I recently had someone ask me “Wendy, do I have a resting bitch face”? My answer was “yes, you look like you are totally pissed off with life”? They had found that numerous times throughout the day people were asking them if they were alright and they had no concept of why this kept happening. Apparently they were alright, they just had no awareness of the expression on their face throughout the day. This led to me spending some time experimenting with ‘my face’ to see what impact it had on other people. The results are fascinating.

The Supermarket Challenge.

Firstly I decided to go to my local supermarket and explore the shopping faces of other shoppers. What a curious mix of people, some were happily chatting to themselves with a mild state of glee, some were totally oblivious to the world beyond the shelves and had that intent look of a person on a total mission to scour the shelves in minute detail to acquire their exact desire, others were the most miserable looking people on the planet wandering around as if the world was ending and this was a torturous event sent to dispel any joy from their being. Then you have the distracted child screamers, stressed out doing their best to placate the constant badgering of their children to buy them stuff… I call these the “I want” children, my dad always has a good answer for that “I want” question, however it is not politically correct enough to state here 🙂

After spending some time scanning the shoppers and assessing the facial expressions, I decided to start my experiment of how I can affect (or infect) others with my own expressions. So, where do I start.. with the happy shoppers, I decided first to see if I could get them to be more joyful about their shopping experience than they already were. This was quite a simple exercise to undertake it just involved a massive smile, a jolly “morning” and a witty comment (oh yes I have a few now and then), the outcome was easy to see, their smiles increased and their body language changed slightly, a little more upright with those happy little head tilts that people do.

Next it was the turn of the worlds end shoppers. Now I have to say that these shoppers are like a fun challenge for me, I love to spread a smile whenever I can and if I see someone with a frown I do like to do my best to turn it upside down 🙂 But blimey, some of these guys took at least 4 laps of me smiling and and utilising a happy tone of voice before they even cracked a wee bit. I did persist though and managed to get a glimmer out of them all.

My next thoughts turned to the mum’s with the “I wanters”, what could I do to make their shopping experience less traumatic? This one is quite an easy fix, distraction tactics work best I have found here.

Distract the child with a total state changing move and then use humour with the parent. I have noticed that when you engage with both parent and child it helps normalise the struggles the parent is having and breaks the momentum briefly enough for them to regain some balance. I have become a pattern interrupt genius for supermarket parents and I like to think I have made the shopping experience much less stressful for some parents.

I enjoy shopping because it gives me an opportunity to watch so many different people behaving in such unique and diverse ways. This allows me to become even more aware of my own behaviours and expressions which in turn helps me help others help themselves.

The Driving Challenge

I spend a lot of time driving and obviously at some point find myself sat in traffic. Do you ever people watch in traffic jams or do you just stare straight ahead? I love a good old people watch, it is my general curious nature. This is where I get to experiment with smiles or miserable faces. Firstly I start with mine, I like to see the reactions in others when I smile or stare straight through them.

This is interesting because the reactions to smiles can vary greatly, some people smile straight back with that look of shock first that someone is actually happy sat in traffic, some people will turn straight back and focus in front of them without a hint of interest (the “we don’t smile in traffic crew”) and some people give you a half smile and then avoid any eye contact due to them going red and being embarrassed by the interaction. In hot weather, I like to open my window and have a chat with other drivers, some people engage and others just look horrified by the fact that some strange person wants a conversation with them in traffic.

I have noticed that when I do the ‘staring straight through people’ they become uncomfortable and show the behaviours that connect with this feeling, face touching, skin colour change, hand shuffling etc… so I only do this as a quick experiment as my intention in life is never to make anyone feel uncomfortable, I always make it right by giving a nice smile before we move on.

Just notice next time you are in traffic what peoples faces look like. Are they day dreaming, angry and frustrated, happy and singing, then when you have noticed have a play and see if you can brighten someones bitch face and leave them in a better space.

I Challenge You.

My challenge to you is to notice moment by moment where your face is at. Become aware of how you are feeling and recognise how your feelings are deeply connected to your facial expressions. If you want to feel better on a daily basis the first place to start is by changing your face 🙂 Sit for a moment now and just smile… give yourself at least 20 seconds of a true smile, you know the one that comes from your eyes too, feel your body and connect to that sensation that comes with a smile, then go out and spread it around the world. Apparently a smile can travel the planet in a day! We recognise a facial expression from 100 meters away, what are you sending out before you arrive?

Smile 🙂

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