Day 494: Facial Expressions

I am very attuned to facial expressions.

Why?

  1. I am a psychotherapist (working with people individually and in groups),
  2. that has been a way for me to learn, grow, and survive in this world, and
  3. human beings just are that way, okay?*

I am thinking about facial expressions, this morning, because of an automatic, unhelpful habit:

I am very quick to imagine other people’s facial expressions changing, negatively, in response to me.

For example:

  • If I am running late, I imagine the faces of the person or people I am going to meet, wearing expressions of disappointment, disapproval, or (eeek!) disgust.
  • If I make a mistake, I imagine faces with expressions of disappointment, disapproval or disgust.
  • If somebody needs something, and I am unable to provide it, I imagine that person’s face showing disappointment, disgust, or disapproval.
  • If I am considering asking for something I need, I imagine people’s faces showing disappointment, disapproval, disgust, or (eeek!) disinterest.
  • If I write (or otherwise express) something that I’m not very happy with, I imagine people’s faces showing disapproval,  disinterest, disgust, or disappointment.
  • If I am ailing or absent, I imagine people’s faces showing disinterest, disappointment, disgust, or disapproval.
  • If I get rejected by somebody (for example, the readers for the BlogHer contest), I imagine faces with expressions of disapproval, disinterest, disappointment, or disgust.
  • If I am going for something new that requires somebody else’s approval (e.g., an audition, application, or interview), I imagine people’s faces showing disinterest, disapproval, disgust, or disappointment.
  • If I am disappointed or angry, and I’m considering telling somebody about that, I imagine their faces turning to expressions of …. well, lots of words beginning with the letter “d.”

Arrrghh!*  How much time have I spent in my life, feeling bad about such things?*

I can’t answer that question. But if I could, the results might trigger another “d” word. Say, depression.

Here’s my wish, right now: I would like to break that old habit — of so easily imagining people’s facial expressions changing, negatively.

I don’t want to do that, ever again!  It’s not helpful!  AND, I’ve done it enough, so far, for several lifetimes.

I’ve served my sentence, for a crime I did NOT commit!

Let me out, Warden, from this unfair prison!   NOW!!!*

(pant, pant, pant)

My plan for this post, people, was to show you facial expressions,of many kinds.

So let’s see what Google Images has for the word “warden,” which just popped up, in that previous paragraph.

Hmmmm. Lots of confusing options. What to choose, what to choose?*

How about this one:

Image

(I found that image here)

Hmmmm. I wonder if I’ll get into trouble, using a stock image like that, in this post.

Hey!  You know what?  I did NOT imagine people with negative expressions on their faces, just now.

Instead, I thought this: if somebody doesn’t like it …. SUE ME!*

What are they going to do, send me to jail?

So … going back to my intent for this post, I will now show you several faces, and ask you to interpret their expressions.  Ready to play along?

Okay!

Facial expression #1:

200150657-001

(Well, I figure this: if there’s going to be any consequences about using this photo, I’m already in trouble, so why not use it again?)

Facial Expression #2:

IMG_4028

Facial Expression #3:

IMG_4008

Facial Expression #4:

IMG_4089

Facial Expression #5:

IMG_1152

Facial Expression #6:

IMG_3911

Facial Expression #7:

Helen-Keller-Quotes-3 (1)

Those last three faces have shown up in previous posts (see here and here). Let’s end this quiz, about facial expressions, with somebody new.

Facial Expression #8:

Eddie Izzard - Force Majeuer Color 1 - Photo Credit - Amanda Searle

(I found that image here.)

Who’s that?  That’s Eddie Izzard!  My son and I have tickets to see him, tonight.*

It’s time to end this post, so I can rest up for activities ahead.

Thanks to those who express themselves (facially and otherwise), to anybody who interprets facial expressions, to people everywhere who are trying to give up bad habits, and to you, especially,  for reading today (no matter what expressions you’ve had on your face).


* More questions: what facial expression do you imagine I had, when I wrote that sentence?

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism, quiz | Tags: , , , , , , , | 54 Comments

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54 thoughts on “Day 494: Facial Expressions

  1. I am super-bad at reading some facial expressions… Well, generally super-bad at reading people anyway. But what I believe is that some facial expressions are not at all intentional but automatic and since they are automatic people don’t realize that they might be expressing themselves based on the electric pulses in the body and not by what their thoughts on the matter are. Does that make sense? I’ll bring you an example… I found it hard sometimes to look people in the eye when I was giving them back their change for their purchase and I started realizing that while my face was help up to them, my eyes were automatically looking down into nothingness… I once saw another person do that and since it looked really silly and stand-offish, I have been practicing to actually look people straight in their eyes. ah, don’t know if any of this even relates.. I’m confused… but this was what came to mind after reading your post! 🙂 PS! As for expressing disgust, disappointment etc… You can’t satisfy EVERy single person anyway.. No one can… so wouldn’t worry about a few distorted faces, as they are normally the minority 🙂

    • Here are my facial expressions (I assume!), in response to your comment: Interested, understanding, impressed, and grateful. These are all great points, clearly communicated, and very helpful for me today!
      PS. I wonder if you’re as “super-bad” at reading people as you think.

  2. Ann, I used to work with a young woman who had so many facial expressions, a very animated lady! It was fun to have conversations with her. I also worked with a man who had none, nada, like his face was completed injected with Botox. I was amazingly uncomfortable with him. Never knowing what he was thinking, totally unable to read his body language and for a team player like me, what an uncomfortable place to be!
    Diana xo

    • I’ve been told I have an expressive face, Diana — which is not the “typical” image of a psychotherapist. Facial expressions really do affect others, in so many ways. Right now, I’m thinking about differences about facial expressiveness in cultures and also — how we never really know what expressions we’re showing! Thanks for this thought-provoking comment.

  3. Enjoy Eddie Izzard tonight – guaranteed to turn any frown upside-down! 😦 🙂

  4. I am an avid people watcher and just love reading books on body language and expressions etc, but still, I so often get it wrong 😮

    • Thanks for the visit and the comment. My facial expression right now (if it matches my feelings), is welcoming and grateful. Here’s what I’m thinking: I’m pretty good at reading people’s facial expressions but whenever I take tests about that in books or online, I test very … average. I’m not so sure about those tests, which use still-shots (just like my quiz, here). Reading those is a LOT different from reading somebody in person, with their changing expressions.

      What I’m wondering is this: how do you KNOW you get it wrong?

      • I think I get it wrong when, for example, I meet a person who I would read to be sweet and quiet and they turn out to be just the opposite.

      • Ah, yes. I, also, have had my share of misinterpreting people’s intents and possible effects on me. We are not the only ones, I’m sure.

  5. As I read this post I was stunned to realize that I never imagine what another person’s facial expression will be. This is not to say that I don’t pay close attention to facial expressions, or that they don’t impact me greatly, because they do. Just that I never imagine a person’s face when I am anticipating seeing them, or sending them something, or being on the receiving end of a tirade, or whatever. It may be one of several huge social lacunae (sp?) in my personality, or that I’m not intuitively visual in that way, but I cannot think of a single time when I have ever thought about a person’s facial expression in advance of seeing it.

    • I aspire to be more like you, Jeff, because I think that would be quite adaptive for me, at this point. Thank you for this comment.

      • …it actually made me think there’s something improperly wired that I am never visualizing like that. Isn’t that a little weird?

      • Nah. I think we’re all on a continuum about this. I guess I could call myself “weird” for thinking as much about facial expressions as I do … but would that be helpful?

        Here’s my opinion: If you were really “improperly wired,” there’s no way you could write the way you do.

  6. yeseventhistoowillpass

    Facial expressions last a moment in time. I used to remember events from my childhood. Things I said and did but then I said to myself… Few if any remember any of it and to be truthful only I do!

    • Such an important point — that facial expressions last but a moment in time! Thanks so much for reading and for this wise and helpful comment.

  7. Just loved your post 🙂
    Hmmm facial expression is an interesting topic .

    Not sure how good / bad I am at reading other people’s facial expressions.

    I am not a very expressive person and being judged for that as dumb or unemotional quite often (it hurts) .

    My guess for above pictures are :
    Pic 1: Bored/unimpressed
    Pic2 : Ready for the challange / bring it on
    Pic 3:Worried /unwell
    Pic 4: Lost in thoughts / day dreaming
    Pic 5: Thinking/ Searching for answers
    Pic 6: Happy / enjoys her her work/ love what she do
    Pic 7: Satisfied/determined /she knows what she wants to do and doing that exact thing
    Pic 8: too confident

    • I love this comment (although I am sorry to hear that you have been judged in those harsh ways). So, you aren’t sure how good/bad you are at reading other people’s facial expressions, huh? I would say you did a GREAT job on this quiz, mk. Thank you!

  8. Niko

    Very interesting, thank you for sharing this aspects you your life (and facial expressions) 🙂
    have a wonderful weekend

  9. Question: How do you befuddle somebody up for the rest of the day?
    Answer: Tell them they’ve got to work on their default facial expression.

    I think I mostly look content.

    I hope.

    Of course, I’m not near a mirror all the time. And when somebody does look in the mirror, doesn’t they automatically change to what could be called their “mirror face?”

    See, Ann. I am befuddled. By my own question. But I thought of it after reading your post. Now I am thinking d-words. No, some good ones. I am delighted that is is warm. My dinner will be delicious. I am going to see your blogging friend and mine Christopher S. Malone perform improv tonight, and I am sure his attitude will be determined, and the troupe show will be dynamite.

    Have a good rest of your Friday.

    • Thank you, Mark. And, if you are so inclined, use your content expression to convey to Christopher how impressed I am about his Improv activities.

      Of course, I am always impressed with your comments.

      • I will tell Chris. Keep an eye out this Wednesday. I am planning to use the Improv company as my weekly waer.org community blog, which I double up on with different story and photo take with teaser link here, Ann.

  10. I too imagine people’s reactions to misdeeds I haven’t yet committed, or failures that haven’t happened. A big waste of time and demoralising. I stop myself when I become aware and even laugh out loud, the problem is walking down this familiar path without realising it. I just keep trying (and laughing).

    • Yes, Hilary. Thank you for describing your experience of that familiar path (and laughter). That will help me recognize mine, and laugh about it, too.

  11. When I leave a crowded room or finish talking to someone on the phone, I usually imagine them all making facial expressions that indicate exasperation, or maybe relief that I’ve left. I wonder why.

    • Lots of reasons, probably, but here’s my suggestion to you: Stop doing that!

      Please don’t stop visiting here, though.

  12. I love this post Ann! Animated faces give a lot away about our thinking …. so I’m working on changing my thoughts instead of my face…. lol
    Tuning in to other expressions is a try gift though.
    The other side of the coin eh?

  13. Thank you. I have been told that my face is an open book expressing in a loud voice how I feel.

  14. People smile at you, Ann. In real life, that’s what they do. We have absolute proof in the form of your blog. There you are, worrying. And there they are, smiling at you. You are held in so many hearts, and you don’t even know it. I think your cats know it, but they won’t say.

    • I do know such things on some level, thanks to you and others.

      I hold you in my heart, too.

      The more I consciously hold all this in my heart … the less room there is for worry. Yes! I shall keep working on this. Thank you.

  15. Worry doesn’t take up space, though. It’s a field, like a boson. It energizes and electrifies and alarms and regenerates and yet it’s weightless. Like the internet.

    You’re not going to be able to displace your worry. But when you show it to us, we are enlarged by it. If we can comfort you, that is a blessing for us.

    • Consider yourself blessed. And, I am still trying to figure out my relationship with worry. I believe I don’t need it. It would be great to be able to choose when and how to engage with it (like the internet).

  16. Well, I wouldn’t want to try to define your relationship with worry. But I hope that you know that it’s a part of you that has taught me so much about myself, that has been a light to me. I probably wouldn’t be here if you weren’t a worrier. Which is not to say that if you conquer it, I won’t celebrate. I will. But — you do ‘worry’ in a very meaningful way.

    • My worry (and I) thank you, meaningfully. And, again, I appreciate that worrier and warrior sound so much alike.

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